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Demagog - Chisinau Report (2021)

DEMAGOG. The Chisinau Report, No. 4: The disinformation testing ground

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Russian secret intelligence had allegedly prepared a set of actions – mostly manipulation, provocative actions, disinformation and propaganda – in order to influence the presidential election in the Republic of Moldova. The information was carried by the German daily Bild (although it had been previously publicized in Chișinău as well), which writes that Moscow might be applying the same tactics for the election in the Bundestag in the upcoming autumn. Therefore, Moldova was supposed to be a testing field. In 2020, the plan didn’t go through, but Veridica has discovered some of its elements apparently being employed in the campaign for the parliamentary election of July 11. Of course, we cannot rule out the possibility this is all just coincidence. However, these “coincidental” actions add splashes of color to an election race where one newly-founded party launched its candidacy symbolically with one woman rising from a coffin. No, it’s not the Vampires’ Party, in case you were wondering, but one of the makeshift parties that enrolled in the campaign with no real chances of ever meeting the electoral threshold, but which can, however, stir public opinion, harass larger parties, come up with all sorts of outlandish proposals and ideas and confuse voters. Basically, these parties are the equivalent of online trolls. Crude public performance is not specific to makeshift parties alone, as it can also be noticed in better faring parties. They use their media exposure to manipulate, disinform and badmouth their political opponents, thus contributing to the flow of fake news on the market. The Bloc of Communists and Socialists and AUR seem to thrive on such campaigns, which are also fueled by Kremlin-linked media. Their favorite target remains president Maia Sandu, which is (rightfully) seen as the driving force of PAS, a party that may very well secure majority in Parliament. This week, for instance, Veridica has debunked fake news about manipulating statistics in favor of Maia Sandu, her alleged links with fugitive oligarchs and her unrestricted use of the Intelligence and Security Service. All this while, we are told that non-governmental organizations (which Maia Sandu and PAS obviously work for) are on the brink of destroying the country, while the current “regime” – another reference to Maia Sandu, despite the fact that the president’s prerogatives are rather limited, and the country continues to be run by the Socialists and their allies – is ready to apply for NATO accession.

Fake News & Disinformation
FAKE NEWS: NGOs funded by the West are destroying the Republic of Moldova (Cornel Ciobanu)

The non-governmental organizations funded from the West are directly involved in the election campaign in the Republic of Moldova, according to an article published by Rubaltic.ru, which largely takes over the theories used in the presidential campaign by the Socialist Bogdan Țîrdea. The attack on civil society is in fact targeting the Action and Solidarity Party, the Socialists' main contender in the early parliamentary elections of 11 July.

FAKE NEWS: Chisinau wants to be part of NATO (Cătălin Gomboș)

The “regime” in Chisinau wants to have the Republic of Moldova join NATO and is ready to make “unfriendly” gestures towards Russia, according to a false narrative promoted by Sputnik. The starting point of the narrative was the participation of a single Moldovan army platoon in a multi-national exercise to which, in the past, Russia would also be invited.

FAKE NEWS: Maia Sandu directed the secret services to eliminate candidates running against PAS (Mădălin Necșuțu)

Maia Sandu wants to eliminate electoral competition in favor of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), which she led before becoming president, according to a false narrative promoted by AUR and the pro-Russian forces in Chisinau. The promoters of the narrative knowingly ignore the political and administrative realities of the Republic of Moldova, in an attempt to undermine the party that stands as favorite in the polls.

FAKE NEWS: Maia Sandu is not really fighting corruption (Mariana Vasilache)

Maia Sandu does not have any important achievements in the fight against corruption during the first 6 months of her term because, in fact, she does not want to fight the phenomenon. This false narrative is promoted by the Kremlin channel, Sputnik, which in the context of the election campaign in the Republic of Moldova tries to undermine the anti-corruption discourse and manipulates information by ignoring the principle of separation of powers.

FAKE NEWS: In Moldova, Covid-19 statistics are manipulated to serve Maia Sandu (Cornel Ciobanu)

Statistics on the number of Coronavirus infections are manipulated to serve the political interests of Maia Sandu, according to the Socialist MP Bogdan Țîrdea, one of the most active promoters of false narratives in Moldova. The statistics narrative is false too, and, just like the previous ones, has been amplified by several publications.

Narratives
  • Externally funded civil society is a danger to the Republic of Moldova, and Maia Sandu and PAS are representatives of civil society.
  • The Party of Socialists is one of the very few that fight to defend the interests of the Republic of Moldova.
  • NATO provokes Russia through military exercises.
  • The Chisinau regime wants Moldova to join NATO.
  • Cooperation with NATO is a hostile move towards Russia.
  • Maia Sandu involves SIS in the election campaign against certain candidates that run against PAS.
  • The most powerful institutions in the Republic of Moldova work for certain pro-European parties.
  • Maia Sandu only mimics the fight against corruption and has no major achievement in this field.
  • The grand corrupt and oligarchs responsible for stealing the billion are at large thanks to Maia Sandu, and she will rule with some of them after the elections.
  • Maia Sandu is to blame for the fact that those who stole the billion are at large, because she dissolved Parliament.
  • Someone (meaning the West, USA) is manipulating statistics on the number of infections with the new coronavirus in the Republic of Moldova, to serve the interests of Maia Sandu.
  • Statistics on the number of infections are not credible.
Editorials & Analysis
Moldovan elections: who’s who (Mariana Vasilache)

23 candidates are participating in the campaign for July 11th parliamentary elections, fighting for the 101 seats in the Chisinau Parliament. The problems facing the Republic of Moldova, such as poverty, corruption and the oscillation between East and West, are also reflected in the electoral messages used by the competing parties, and the central themes of the election campaign are the geopolitical vector of the Republic of Moldova and the fight against corruption.

The Moldovan testing ground for Russian intelligence's propaganda (Mădălin Necșuțu)

Russia allegedly had a plan to influence the 2020 presidential elections in Moldova, but abandoned it when it came to light. An analysis of the current campaign suggests, though, that at least in part, ideas devised by the Russian secret services are still being put into practice.

 

Demagog 2021 is the Veridica project for monitoring the election campaign for the early legislative elections in the Republic of Moldova. The Chisinau Bulletin is a weekly synthesis of the main fake news, disinformation and narratives used in the campaign, but also of the editorials and analyzes written by our team.

 

 


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