NEWS: MEJDURECIE.MD writes that Moldova’s Constitutional Court decisions nullifying the special status of the Russian language are aimed at winding up the country. The author refers to two rulings of the Constitutional Court – one passed on January 21, 2021, which renders unconstitutional the Law on the functioning of languages spoken in the Republic of Moldova, voted at the end of 2020, and a second one, passed on June 4, 2018, under which the Law on the functioning of languages spoken in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic of 1989 is rendered obsolete. “There is a third ruling, in which the Court decided that Romanian is the state language in Moldova, despite the fact that the country’s fundamental law stipulates the official language is Moldovan. These resolutions of the Constitutional Court, whose members are citizens of the neighboring state, create the premises for the progressive unification of the Republic of Moldova with Romania”, the article also reads.
The author further notes there are two competing models of state structure in the Republic of Moldova. The first revolves around the idea of Moldova being a multinational state. “This ideological cornerstone allows for upholding the Moldovan state for the time being and enables negotiations with Transnistria over territorial disputes. Endorsed by legislation on the functioning of languages and other judicial documents, this concept has also become an agreement/compromises reached by all the other linguistic communities in our country. This reflects the existing communication behaviors at various levels”.
“The second model is adopted in Romania, which has an official language, used by all the other national minorities for communication and social integration purposes. Moldova’s integration into Romania comprises several steps and is being implemented at various levels. Economically speaking, Romania is Moldova’s number one trade partner). The two countries’ gas and electricity national grids are inter-connected. The Romanian and Moldovan cultures and information systems are aligned. Romanian passports are issued to Moldovan citizens. Under European regulations, laws in the two countries are also harmonized. Now, the old system of languages maintained on the left side of the Prut river needs to be discarded. We’re ostracizing the Russian language, and the foundations of the current multinational Moldovan state will be shattered. All that remains is the Romanian paradigm, with its history, language and laws”.
According to the aforecited source, right now the country and the Constitutional Court are under the control of Romanian citizens, who’ve made it their mission is to take the power reins in their hands across the Prut river and who’re vamping up a legal justification for their actions. The next step is for unionist and pro-European parties to win the early Parliamentary election. “By securing a majority in Parliament, unionist and pro-European factions will be able to dominate pro-Romanian lobbying in Moldova, thus paving the way for the gradual and irreversible fusion of the two states. Should this happen, we will witness the reintroduction of broadcast restrictions for Russian TV channels, the large-scale manipulation of the population designed to destroy the paradigm of the Moldovan multinational state and usher in a propaganda of Western and NATO values”.
“The Russian language was a sort of Rubicon in the clash of these two models. Eliminating its special status is tantamount to eliminating the Moldovan state over the course of time. This is a moment of tremendous importance which discussions in the public sphere have overlooked”, the author concludes.
The Moldovan Constitutional Court ruling not not to give a special statute to the Russian language is a step towards the destruction of the state and union with Romania. The narrative is seeking to push the fake notion that Moldova is a multi-national state, just like the former USSR, and like in the former USSR, Russian should be the lingua franca.
NARRATIVES: 1. The Republic of Moldova will disappear as a state once the Russian language loses its special status. The Russian language is the binding element of Moldovan statehood. 2. Romania wants the Republic of Moldova to disappear. 3. President Maia Sandu and the members of the Constitutional Court, who are also Romanian citizens, are challenging the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova and passing laws to facilitate the unification with Romania. 4. Ethnic minorities on Moldova’s territory will fall subject to discrimination. 5. The Moldovan multiethnic state is part of the Russian world.
BACKGROUND: The Russian language serves as perhaps the most effective instrument for promoting the Kremlin’s interests in post-Soviet space and for maintaining the so-called “Russkyi mir”, the Russian world, an ideology promoted under the Russian Empire and later in the Soviet Union. Defending the Russian-speaking population is also a reason used to justify military intervention, which is what happened very recently in Ukraine, where the Russian Federation annexed Crimea and backed the separatist forces in Donbass. In the Republic of Moldova, part of the Russian-speaking population supported by Moscow created a breakaway regime in 1990 in Tiraspol, which considers itself part of the Russian world, although a third of people in the region call themselves Moldovan and another third Ukrainian.
Beyond Transnistria, the territory that remains under the control of the authorities in Chișinău has always seen politicians and political factions that rely on left-wing, Russian-speaking and pro-Russian voters, and have always sought to strengthen relations with Moscow. Some voices have even claimed Moldova has been subservient to Moscow, as is the case of former president Igor Dodon, whose actions and discourse over the course of his term in office and after losing the 2020 presidential race seem to indicate he is more interested in serving the Kremlin’s interests rather than his own country’s. The law on the functioning of languages in the territory of the Republic of Moldova was voted by PSRM and Şor Party deputies in December, 2020, during a Parliament meeting amidst heightened tension generated by the opposition’s protests. The law was endorsed together with a number of other controversial pieces of legislation, aimed at stirring up a public debate, and which are dangerous in their ability to cause a rift in Moldovan society. These actions come against the backdrop of retaliation from PSRM after Socialist leader, Igor Dodon, lost the presidential election. They serve to buy political capital and at the same time regain the Kremlin’s trust. For that matter, the identitarian discourse on the Moldovan or Romanian language and the status of the Russian language is successfully used as a ploy by representatives of various parties in nearly all election campaigns.
Moreover, the Russian Federation is subverting any attempt at establishing closer ties with Bucharest and the European Union, including by stirring up the pro-Russian, nostalgic population, as well as national minorities.
The majority population in the Republic of Moldova has always been made up of Romanian ethnics, speaking Romanian. Some of them identify themselves as Moldovans and claim they speak Moldovan. The latest census carried out in 2014 reveals that less than 20% of the country’s population belongs to different ethnic groups, namely 6.6% Russian, 4.1% Gagauz, 1.9% Bulgarian, 0.3% Roma, and 0.5% other ethnic groups.
These minorities also spoke Russian in the Soviet period, when Russian was the official language. The Republic of Moldova did not introduce policies to promote and preserve the languages of minority groups, which happens in European states, but virtually agreed Russian should take their place. Therefore, Russian plays a twofold role: it is a means of inter-ethnic communication, a role usually attributed to national languages (which should be Romanian in this case), and it is the language of national minorities. As such, it enjoys the protection usually given to these languages. The confusion deliberately created between the language of inter-ethnic communication and the language of minorities serves to strengthen the position of the Russian language.
PURPOSE: Promoting Russian as the official language, undermining Romanian identity in the Republic of Moldova, as well as giving rise to frictions and turmoil across society by inciting the Russian-speaking population and other ethnic groups using this language.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The law under challenge could strengthen/legitimize the status of the Russian language in the Republic of Moldova, but it has nothing to do with the rights of other ethnic groups, nor with what the author has called “a model of state structure”. On the contrary, as the Constitutional Court also notes, the law confers the Russian language a privileged position in relation to other languages of ethnic minorities in the Republic of Moldova, which is at odds with the Constitution.
The author claims that, if the Russian language is deprived of its special status, then the Republic of Moldova will disappear as a state. Yet the Law of 1989 on languages used in Moldova, which stipulates that Russian is a language of inter-ethnic communication, is not referred to in the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova voted in 1994 and was declared obsolete in 2018. During that time, the Republic of Moldova did not disappear as a state, nor did it unite with Romania.
Moreover, the publication misleads its readers, writing that, in 2013, the Court “recognized Romanian to be the state language in Moldova, although the text of the Constitution refers to it as Moldovan”. Romanian is the correct name of the official and constitutional language in the Republic of Moldova, the Constitutional Court ruled in 2013, noting that the text of the Declaration of Independence of 1991, which uses the term “Romanian language”, prevails over Article 13 in the 1994 Constitution, which uses the term “Moldovan language”. Under the aforementioned Article, the Moldovan state recognizes and protects the right to preserving, developing and using the Russian language and other languages spoken on the country’s territory.
The author argues that several high-ranking officials hold Romanian citizenship, and this allegedly challenges the Republic of Moldova’s statehood. The Romanian citizenship, currently held by a large part of Moldova’s population, is not obtained like that of any other state. It is, in fact, reacquired after having been lost by the parents and grandparents of Moldovan citizens, who were born and lived in Romania. The current territory of the Republic of Moldova was part of Romania over 1918-1940 after the country’s assembly (the legislative body in Chişinău at the time) voted in favor of the unification. The country was subsequently occupied by the USSR in 1940 under an additional secret protocol in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, signed by the USSR and Nazi Germany. In 1991, Romania became the first state to officially recognize the independence of the Republic of Moldova.
The hypothesis asserting that Moldova is a multinational state and that “this ideological cornerstone allows for upholding the Moldovan state” by means of the Russian language, is an outgrowth of Soviet paradigm. In the USSR, Russian was the official language of all the republics, used by the people in the Union to communicate. The Moldovan/Romanian language with Latin script became an official language in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova only in 1989, against the backdrop of the national liberation movement and mass demonstrations in Chişinău, which led to the creation of the Grand National Assembly in August, 1989.
The rights of Russian speakers are observed and safeguarded in the Republic of Moldova, also under Article 13 in the Constitution. The Republic of Moldova has schools with exclusive Russian-language teaching, and this language is also taught in nearly all schools with Romanian-language teaching. Furthermore, ethnic minorities, not just Russians, speak and study Russian, to the detriment of their mother tongues. What is more, the State Register of Legal Decisions and the Official Journal of the Republic of Moldova are also translated into Russian.