Maia Sandu grants Syrians the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova, while Moldovans are leaving the country, writes Komsomolskaya Pravda, which publishes a presidential decree granting citizenship to nine people. Thus, a narrative is resumed from the 2016 presidential elections when fake news was spread that 30 thousand Syrian refugees would be brought to the Republic of Moldova.
NEWS: “Every third person who received citizenship from Maia Sandu is from Syria”, writes KP.md, referring to a decree signed by President Maia Sandu, on May 11, 2021, granting citizenship of the Republic of Moldova to 32 people. “While Moldovans are leaving the country, Syrians are coming in their place. Maia Sandu granted citizenship to 9 Syrians in May. In a month, 32 people received Moldovan citizenship. The decree was signed by Maia Sandu. It is worth mentioning that most of the people who received Moldovan citizenship, 9, are from the Syrian Arab Republic. Also on the list are people from Jordan, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey. Moldovan citizenship was also granted to persons from the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Italy”.
NARRATIVE: While Moldovans are leaving the country, Maia Sandu grants Syrians the citizenship of the Republic of Moldova.
CONTEXT: In 2016, following an aggressive fake-news campaign against pro-European candidate Maia Sandu, the presidential election was won by pro-Russian Igor Dodon, the leader of the Party of Socialists. One of the most disseminated fake news of that campaign was that Maia Sandu promised Europeans that she would accept 30,000 Syrian immigrants in Moldova, in exchange for support from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The information came in the context of Europe facing a wave of immigrants from Africa, and, the previous year, the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis had been exploited by the Kremlin's propaganda, which tried to create an apocalyptic image of a genuine barbarian invasion in the face of which Europe was collapsing. This false perspective on the crisis was also promoted in the Republic of Moldova, where the Russian media enjoys a significant presence.
The information on bringing refugees was taken over by a lot of sites affiliated with the Socialists, and the PSRM newspaper "Socialistul" amplified the disinformation, writing that Maia Sandu would accommodate the refugees in the houses left by the Moldovans who went abroad. The news was also taken over by the most watched TV stations in the Republic of Moldova, controlled by the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who helped Igor Dodon win the presidential seat back then. Moreover, a Youtube channel “Syrians Without Borders Foundation”, created around the elections and disbanded immediately after the election, broadcast a video in which three Syrian students from the Medical University of Chisinau said that they wanted to see as many Syrians as possible settling in Moldova. The journalists from Ziarul de Garda wrote then how the lie on the Syrians grew: from a pamphlet site, to the most watched television in the country.
Currently, the Republic of Moldova is preparing for early parliamentary elections, the main competitors being the pro-Europeans from PAS, who rely on the positive image of the party's founder, Maia Sandu (officially neutral, as president, but clearly associated with the party) and a pro-Russia alliance formed by the Socialists and Communists of the former presidents Igor Dodon and Vladimir Voronin.
PURPOSE: The news is trying to bring back to the public attention the disinformation about Syrian immigrants and aims to discredit Maia Sandu in the context of the election campaign for the parliamentary elections to be held on July 11 in the Republic of Moldova.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The idea that the Syrians would replace the Moldovans is ridiculous: according to estimates, there are up to one million citizens living outside the Republic of Moldova, while the quoted article itself talks about granting citizenship to nine Syrians. In 2018, for example, the total number of asylum seekers reported for the previous 20 years was 2400, and that of refugees present on the territory of the Republic of Moldova at that time - 400.
Moreover, citizenship is not granted automatically - it is a complex procedure, which the president of the country only validates by signing the decree, when it is completed.
Thus, according to the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Moldova, Moldovan citizenship can be acquired also through recognition or naturalization. The citizenship of the Republic of Moldova can be granted upon request to the foreign citizen or stateless person with legal and habitual residence on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, who observes the provisions of the Constitution, took the test to assess their level of knowledge of the state language and has had legal sources of income on Moldovan soil for several years.
According to the same law, the President of the Republic of Moldova issues the decrees granting citizenship. However, the files for acquiring citizenship are drawn up by the Public Services Agency, which receives applications for acquiring citizenship of the Republic of Moldova, verifies the documents submitted, collects data about the applicant, prepares an information note and, together with the opinions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, of the Intelligence and Security Service and at the request of the applicant, sends them to the President of the Republic of Moldova to be signed.
A project supported by the Canadian embassy in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Moldova