“The unionists who showed up to greet the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, were kept behind a fence. Supporters of the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania were not allowed on the premises of the presidential residence and watched the greeting ceremony through the bars in the fence.
We recall that during her election campaign, Maia Sandu promised she would pull down the fence surrounding the presidential residence shortly after taking office. After being sworn in, however, Maia Sandu changed her mind, saying this is no longer a priority”, Accent TV, part of the media holding controlled by the former president, Igor Dodon, claims. The news was distributed by other media institutions who backed Igor Dodon in the election campaign, such as moldova24.info, breakingnews.md, evenimentul.md.
NARRATIVES: Maia Sandu is breaking her promise; Maia Sandu is acting disrespectfully towards unionists (who supported her in the presidential runoff).
BACKGROUND: Chișinău authorities’ relations with unionists, namely supporters of the unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, have always sparked disputes in society and given rise to press comments ever since the repression of unionist actions during the communist rule until 2009. Unionists accused right-wing Cabinets at the time of doing nothing or not enough to achieve this “national objective”, while left-wing parties and representatives of national minorities accused them of seeking to “destroy Moldovan statehood”.
Grassroots support for unionism has been growing significantly in the Republic of Moldova in recent years, now accounting for a third of the population, according to the latest surveys. This would normally translate into a larger political representation (yet paradoxically, unionist parties have witnessed an accelerated decline in recent years, confirmed by their poor results these parties and their candidates obtained in successive elections). Unionists supported Maia Sandu in the presidential election, as Sandu five years ago said she would vote in favor of the unification with Romania in the event of a referendum.
During the election campaign, but also before officially being sworn in, Maia Sandu said she would have the fence surrounding the presidential residence removed. The fence was erected by former communist president Vladimir Voronin after the April 2009 protests. It’s worth mentioning that Sandu officially took over as president on December 24 (Thursday), on Christmas Eve, then after the weekend Klaus Iohannis paid a visit to Chișinău on December 29 (Tuesday).
Media outlets that highlighted the fact that unionists were kept “behind the fence” and Maia Sandu broke her promise to have the fence removed are the same which previously criticized Maia Sandu’s initiative. In fact, Igor Dodon himself argued against this idea.
PURPOSE: To depict Maia Sandu as “a traitor” of her own voters, in this case, unionists. To describe the Moldovan President as someone who doesn’t deliver on her promises.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The “UNIREA-ODIP” Association announced they would stage an action during the visit to Chișinău of president Klaus Iohannis, in order to hand him an open letter. Organizers announced they would stage their action across the street from the presidential building and did not express any intention of being received by the president.
“Tuesday, December 29, at 11:15 hours, unionists with the “UNIREA-ODIP” Association will greet Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, holding the map of Greater Romania and accompanied by an open letter addressing the Romanian head of state. The welcoming party will convene across the presidency (154 Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt blvd.).
According to the leader of “UNIREA-ODIP”, Vlad Bilețchi, the open letter addressing the Romanian official will also express gratitude for the numerous investments and assistance packages Bucharest has provided for the development of the Republic of Moldova (the refurbishment of nursery schools, the donation of school buses, the refurbishment of several cultural institutions, a significant amount of medical equipment to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.). Moreover, unionists will also present a series of demands, including the creation of a Reunification Ministry, in charge with liaising with the Republic of Moldova, as well as lifting the ban on Romanian citizen George Simion, a current member of the Romanian Parliament”, the organization writes in its announcement.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Maia Sandu said dismantling the fence surrounding the Presidency building is a priority.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: Igor Dodon, in order to highlight Maia Sandu’s future political blunders; unionist parties who seek to boost the number of their voters in the upcoming election.