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The Republic of Moldova, targeted by Russian propaganda

Supporters of Shor political party are trying to get to the Great National Assembly Square, during a protest in Chisinau, Moldova, 30 October 2022.
©EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU  |   Supporters of Shor political party are trying to get to the Great National Assembly Square, during a protest in Chisinau, Moldova, 30 October 2022.

While the Kremlin backs the criminal opposition in Chișinău, which is trying to destabilize the Republic of Moldova in order to take power and discard any criminal investigation against itself, Russian propaganda touts the protests staged by Shor Party, the anti-Western statements of the former Socialist party and criticizes the current head of state, Maia Sandu. Veridica has reviewed the main narratives advocated by the Russian government media with respect to the Republic of Moldova.

Russia is trying to change the orientation of the Republic of Moldova with the help of pro-Russian politicians

The complicated situation in the Republic of Moldova, caused by the Russian war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and the unprecedented inflation, are deliberately heightened by pro-Russian parties in Chișinău, which moved to the opposition after losing the 2021 parliamentary election. We’re referring to the Party of Socialists and Shor Party, whose leaders are subject to criminal investigations or have received criminal sentences.

For a number of weeks, Shor Party has been organizing rallies in downtown Chișinău. Organizers pay participants to attend, investigative journalists have shown, while anti-corruption officers have caught party representatives carrying millions of lei in bags, which they were planning to hand out to protesters.

At the same time, the former president of the Republic of Moldova and former leader of the Party of Socialists (PSRM), Igor Dodon, who is currently on house arrest (pending an investigation where he faces a number of charges, including high treason, illegal party funding and illicit enrichment), is making declarations and giving interviews to the Russian media, criticizing in particular the European track of the Republic of Moldova, also promoting disinformation about NATO and the involvement of Moldova in the war in Ukraine.

PSRM and Shor Party MPs have actually paid recent visits to Moscow, where they met State Duma officials.

Moscow’s actions undermining the Republic of Moldova also involve the FSB intelligence service, according to a recent series of documents consulted by The Washington Post. The information has also been confirmed by an independent investigation carried out by Rise Moldova and the “Dossier Center”.

The Government in Chișinău and Maia Sandu, in the crosshairs of Russian propaganda

The presidential administration in Moscow is regularly issuing special instructions for media outlets under its control, which stipulate how the war in Ukraine and related events should be reflected in the press. The instructions are transmitted to public workers, public figures, pro-Kremlin bloggers, and consist of messages they should convey in their public appearances that must fall in line with the official Kremlin rhetoric. The October 4 instructions analyzed by MEDUZA journalists include a number of propaganda themes, including the one about the “New World Order”. News agencies must then inform their audiences that countries from the former USSR had better “heed Ukraine’s example” for fear of damaging their relations with Russia. The list of bad examples also includes Moldova and president Maia Sandu, the aforementioned source writes.

Therefore, the Kremlin’s official channels are critical of the Moldovan administration. In recent weeks, Moscow-based news outlets have been redistributing a large number of statements made by pro-Russian politicians in Chișinău, who criticize the Republic of Moldova’s European integration efforts and the West. Here are a few telling examples of headlines published by Ria Novosti, Sputnik and TASS: “Ex-president of Moldova Dodon doubts the success of the republic’s European integration”; “Dodon: the West’s criminal ploys may lead to war in Transnistria”; “Dodon believes NATO is interested in reigniting the conflict in Transnistria”. Ria Novosti even goes as far as publishing a broad interview given by wanted fugitive Ilan Shor, depicting him as a politician oppressed by Moldovan authorities, although failing to mention he has been fleeing the sentenced handed to him in the court of first instance in the “billion-dollar theft” case.

Of all government officials, president Maia Sandu is the number one target of Russian propaganda. One the Kremlin’s prominent mouthpieces, Tigran Keosayan (husband to Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief at RT, the most important foreign propaganda media organization), told Radio Sputnik that president Maia Sandu is “a Romanian who took power in Moldova in order to bring the country to ruin”. Simonyan also asks “why energy bills have increased so much and why long-term contracts have not been signed? How will people be able to heat their homes with winter approaching?”

“Dodon claims Sandu is turning Moldova into a police state”, TASS headlines, an agency that regularly distributes the statements made by the former pro-Russian president, currently on house arrest. “President Sandu’s policy-making might start an open conflict in Transnistria and create a new war zone in order to justify the ‘friendly’ involvement of NATO troops from Romania”, Radio Sputnik also quotes the former Moldovan president. Ria Novosti  published a commentary made by former Prime Minister Vlad Filat (sentenced in 2015 in the billion-dollar fraud case), who is equally critical of Maia Sandu’s domestic policies.

“Opposition protest at the US Embassy in Chișinău: stop Sandu the monster”, “the Moldovan opposition is accusing the EU and the USA of breeding monsters”, writes another Russian website, EurAsia Daily, “Sandu is preparing to declare a state of war in Moldova and change the Constitution”, the aforementioned source also claims.

Ilan Shor, a wanted oligarch, is Moscow’s new favorite

Protests staged by Shor Party in the Moldovan capital-city are anti-Western and enjoy the political and media endorsement of Moscow, although they are described as popular protests. The Moscow-based news agency Ria Novosti headlines: “We don’t need Europe!”, “no end to the protests in Moldova”, “protesters in Chișinău have picketed the Presidency building, demonstrators calling for the resignation of president Maia Sandu, the Parliament and Government, as well as for early elections”; “A national salvation committee will be created in Moldova as the country is on the brink of a social and economic catastrophe”. The media outlet also writes that “the Government of the Republic of Moldova is controlled from the outside”, again referring to the statements made by fugitive Ilan Shor.

Furthermore, Ilan Shor claims Russia will deliver natural gas at preferential prices for Orhei and import fruit and vegetables produced by farmers in this city. These statements were also picked up by Russian agencies, which seek to suggest that Moldovan citizens who support Russia will have a lot to gain. Rosselhoznadzor, Russia’s phytosanitary service, has announced it lifted the embargo on the fruit and vegetables produced by a number of economic operators from Orhei, after two Shor Party deputies paid a visit to Moscow. Experts believe this was a political move designed to endorse the controversial pro-Russian politician from Moldova. It sends a message, loud and clear, to pro-Russian voters in the Republic of Moldova: Shor has Moscow’s support.

Tags: Russia , Maia Sandu , propaganda
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