“A monument devoted to fascists was inaugurated in the Republic of Moldova”, a number of media outlets in Russia have headlined, based on a piece of news published by “Steaua Roșie” news agency, actually referring to a cemetery in Fălești devoted to Romanian fallen soldiers. Arctus.livejournal.com uses the article to bring back in the limelight the narratives about the Romanian Army allegedly having exterminated the civilian population in the Republic of Moldova and about the existence of two different peoples – Romanians and Moldovans.
NEWS: “In the city of Fălești in the Republic of Moldova, authorities have inaugurated a monument devoted to Romanian fascists, portraying them as liberating heroes. Attending the event were the Romanian consul in Bălti, local authorities, representatives of Parliament and historians […] Moldova’s occupation by fascist Romania was the bloodiest chapter in the history of this country. Romanians slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people in Moldova, shot, hanged and maimed people irrespective of their nationality, destroyed the cultural heritage of the population […] Romanians emerged as a people a few centuries later than Moldovans, at the end of the 19th century. They were descendants of Moldovans”.
NARRATIVES: “Romanian troops mass-exterminated the local population of modern-day Republic of Moldova during World War II. 2. Romanians and Moldovans are two different peoples. 3. Romanians are descendants of Moldovans (and Romanian developed from Moldovan). 4. There’s a risk of a resurge of fascism in the Republic of Moldova (particularly after the right wing won the election).
BACKGROUND: The narratives about the Romanian army and the existence of two different peoples were first used by Soviet propaganda, then they were circulated by various pressure groups in Russia and the Republic of Moldova after the latter proclaimed its independence in 1991.
Soviet historiography, literature and cinematography depict Romanian soldiers who fought in WWII as fascists who exterminated the local population. It is a carryover of an older narrative, emerged shortly after 1918, about “the Romanian gendarmes” and the abuses they committed against the local population after Bessarabia’s unification with Romania.
Soviet historiography, which continues to be championed by a number of historians and politicians today, also promoted the existence of two distinct nations. Moldovans and the “Moldovan language” are considered the precursors of Romanians and the Romanian language. Those who advocate this narrative portray Moldovans as descendants of Stephen the Great, and consider the classic authors of Romanian literature, such as Ion Creangă, Mihai Eminescu or Vasile Alecsandri, to be Moldovan writers.
In the Republic of Moldova, the authorities have renovated or rebuilt a number of cemeteries or monuments devoted to the Romanian soldiers who fought in the Second World War. This has been criticized or opposed by certain politicians and local authorities, which is also what happened with the cemetery in Fălești.
PURPOSE: To bring back to the fore the debate on the identity of the majority population in the Republic of Moldova. To promote the idea about the development of pro-fascist groups in the Republic of Moldova (particularly in the context of the victory of the pro-European right wing in the latest round of election in this country).
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Romania’s reason for entering the Second World War was not to invade some foreign territory, but to liberate Romanian territories occupied by the USSR in the wake of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. For this reason, the military campaign on the Dniester enjoyed the support of a large part of the population, and Romanian troops were received as a liberating force, especially as during the period Bessarabia had been occupied by the Soviets, the occupation regime had persecuted the local population on a large scale, also triggering a wave of deportations. As a whole, the people of Bessarabia were never targeted by such an extermination campaign or war crimes. Such crimes did exist and were perpetrated by order of the Romanian authorities, but they primarily targeted the Jewish population, as they did elsewhere in Romania and in other territories controlled by the Nazi and their allies.
The renovation of a cemetery of Romanian soldiers is a commemorative action paying homage to those who fought in the war, and most states who took part in the war have similar projects. The society in the Republic of Moldova has zero tolerance for the radical far right, proof thereof being the low score obtained by the Alliance for the Union of Romanians in the parliamentary election of July 11.
Soviet narratives about the existence of two distinct peoples – Moldovan and Romanian – are not supported by any historical documents, which attest to the formation of the Romanian people and language on the territory of the former Kingdom of Dacia, in the wake of its being annexed by the Roman Empire. The narrative about two different people and languages was promoted originally to justify Moscow’s actions regarding the concession of Bessarabia after the union with Romania in 1918, then to explain the existence of two countries sharing the same culture and language – Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: During World War II, both the Romanian Army and the Soviet one committed crimes and abuses.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: Moscow, in order to publicize identity-related topics that divide Moldovan society; the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, in order to maintain fear at society level, particularly among national minorities, over the threat of fascism and Romanianization of the Republic of Moldova.