The Republic of Moldova is already taking in refugees from Afghanistan, according to a false narrative that recently surfaced in Chișinău. The narrative is part of a wider series of fake news and disinformation launched in several countries after Afghanistan fell into the Taliban’s hands.
NEWS: “The Republic of Moldova is gladly taking in refugees from Afghanistan”, bloknot-moldova.md writes, referring to a post on Facebook, according to which on August 28, over 60 passengers of an aircraft flying from Bucharest to Chișinău were Afghans, Syrians or even Taliban”. According to the source, the said passengers already had stay permits for the Republic of Moldova.
The news has been picked up by a number of Russian-language media outlets, whereas syfeed.com also headlines “Moldova is already receiving Afghan refugees”, claiming they enter the country via Romania and have stay visas.
NARRATIVE: The pro-European administration in Chișinău has accepted Afghan refugees (considering the Republic of Moldova is a poor country and cannot even ensure decent incomes for its own citizens).
BACKGROUND: The USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has generated a genuine wave of false narratives, wrapped up as fake news and disinformation, which were published in various countries and were mostly launched by Russia. Veridica has actually analyzed several such narratives launched in the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.
The issue of refugees has become a particularly important topic in the Republic of Moldova. There’s already a famous false narrative spread during the campaign for the 2016 election, which was based on a pamphlet: a number of media outlets wrote that Maia Sandu, who at the time was facing pro-Russian Igor Dodon, had allegedly come to an agreement with the West to take in 30,000 Syrian refugees should she win the election.
The citizens of the Republic of Moldova, considered one of the poorest countries in Europe, fear the risk of an “invasion” of refugees from other states, especially since they also come with religions of their own.
It is against this backdrop that news broke of the arrival of Afghan refugees, which was based on a post on Facebook by a Moldovan citizen who claimed that most passengers onboard a Bucharest-Chișinău flight were allegedly Afghan and Syrian nationals.
The topic was very shortly picked up by the Socialists’ camp, who asked the authorities to “[provide clarifications] over the piece of information carried by the media, according to which the Republic of Moldova takes it upon itself to take in Afghan refugees”.
PURPOSE: To spread panic at society level about the Republic of Moldova getting “invaded” by Afghan refugees. To disseminate the idea that the pro-European regime is carrying out orders coming from other countries, to the detriment of its own citizens.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: Even if the Republic of Moldova did sign the joint declaration ensuring the safe travel of people evacuated from Afghanistan, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will take in Afghan refugees, as the Party of Socialists suggests.
On August 19, Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliță ruled out the Republic of Moldova taking in refugees as a possibility.
Furthermore, on August 31, Parliament Speaker, Igor Grosu, said this topic has not been brought up again. “We’ve had a grassroots discussion about this request. We need to see what we can do and the extent to which we can contribute”, the Moldovan official said.
Considering the Republic of Moldova is Europe’s poorest country, currently facing a frozen conflict, it doesn’t exert too much appeal, not even for Afghan refugees, much less as it did for Syrians.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The Republic of Moldova joined another 100 countries in signing a joint declaration for ensuring safe travels from people being evacuated from Afghanistan.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: The Bloc of Communists and Socialists, in order to induce panic in society and discredit the pro-European government.