The Chisinau authorities are threatening to leave Gagauzia without autonomy, according to a false narrative carried by the Russian publication Trud.ru. This is accompanied by specific Russian propaganda theses regarding the Republic of Moldova - the West's control over the country, the “danger” of the union with Romania and the “fake” fight against corruption.
NEWS: “Against the background of the 'special operation' in Ukraine dragging on, Washington and Brussels are pushing the once-friendly republics of the former USSR not only to distance themselves from Moscow, which they have already done, but also to get rid of the domestic opposition that is calling for the annulment of sanctions and dialogue with Moscow. Little Moldova is not an exception and risks being caught between two fires in the midst of an economic crisis, caused by high gas prices in Europe. President Maia Sandu obediently fulfills the recommendations coming from the White House, putting pressure on the opposition. And the fight against corruption serves as a pretext.
Now they are using national autonomies.
In 1994, Gagauzia was ready to join Russia in order not to become a hostage to the course of reunification with Romania, but gave up this intention in exchange for the status of autonomy. Today the Gagauzians oppose the pro-Western course promoted by Maia Sandu. They do not want to repeat the experience of being part of Romania.
It seems that president Maia Sandu went to Gagauzia only to emphasize the authorities’ harsh push towards the “pro-European identity” and to silence those who oppose or are undecided. The fact that Gagauzia has the constitutional right to its own opinion is simply ignored. And now Chisinau threatens to take away the autonomy status of the Gagauz people”.
NARRATIVES: 1. The authorities in Chisinau are being manipulated by the West. 2. The fight against corruption is, in fact, a pretext for eliminating the (pro-Russian) opposition. 3. Chisinau intends to deprive Gagauzia of its autonomy status.
CONTEXT/LOCAL ETHOS: One of the main theses of the Kremlin propaganda and the pro-Russian media in the Republic of Moldova, after the victories of Maia Sandu and her party in the 2020 presidential and 2021 parliamentary elections, is that the pro-European government in Chisinau is controlled by the west. These messages became stronger after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, against the background of the economic crisis and rising inflation, which hit the Republic of Moldova hard, but also in the context of the opening of cases of illegal financing of the main left-wing parties, protest actions against the government began in the Republic of Moldova. They also intensified in the Gagauz autonomous unit in the south of the country, where separatist messages were also heard. In early September, president Maia Sandu visited the region, where she met with pro-Russian deputies from the region, who criticized her, among other things, for not talking to Moscow in person to get a lower gas price.
PURPOSE: To induce the idea that the Republic of Moldova is led by a Russophobic regime, thus justifying the pressures or even a possible military intervention by Russia. To incite Russian-speaking national minorities, especially in Gagauzia.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The authorities in Chisinau condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but did not officially join the sanctions imposed by the West. Prices, especially for energy resources, have risen internationally, one of the main causes being Russia's war in Ukraine. The Republic of Moldova is more vulnerable to external economic shocks, having a small, open economy and being practically totally dependent on imported energy resources.
The Unit of Gagauzia, in the south of the Republic of Moldova, where the majority of the population is Russian-speaking and pro-Russia, established its autonomy in 1994, and no one from the country's leadership has made any statement about the possibility/necessity of withdrawing this status. Just as there is no official discussion, neither in Chisinau, nor in Bucharest, about a potential union between the Republic of Moldova and Romania.
A large part of the cases opened recently and targeting opposition politicians are about actions committed in previous years, some of which were opened before, but the investigations were dragging on. In particular, representatives of the Shor Party, led by the fugitive politician Ilan Shor, convicted by the first instance in the large-scale bank fraud case of 2014, and former president Igor Dodon are targeted. He is involved in several cases of corruption, illegal financing of the party, and treason.
And the statement that “Gagauzia has the constitutional right to its own opinion” is false. The Constitution of the Republic of Moldova does not contain such provisions. It is true, however, that a special law on the status of autonomy provides that “in the event of a change in the status of the Republic of Moldova as an independent state, the people of Gagauzia have the right to external self-determination”.
In fact, it is not for the first time that there is an attempt to present corruption cases as part of the pro-European Government’s fight against its political opponents.