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Romania in 2021: Top FAKE NEWS & DISINFORMATION debunked by Veridica

Romania in 2021: Top FAKE NEWS & DISINFORMATION debunked by Veridica
©Romanian anti-vaccine activists display a huge metaphoric human head with syringes tucked into the scalp while attending a protest against new measures ordered by the Romanian government during the fourth wave of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, 02 October 2021.  |   EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

The Covid pandemic and the sovereigntist and identitarian themes dominated the false narratives promoted in Romania in 2021. In most cases, they were narratives taken over from outside or versions of such narratives adapted to the Romanian context. The main sources were the Russian false narratives and those promoted by ​​the radical right. Another source for the pandemic and coronavirus narratives was China, which was directly interested in diverting attention from the way it approached the pandemic in its early stages.

Top 5 narratives
  1. Romania is a colony of the West. The meta-narrative appears in numerous FAKE NEWS and pieces of DISINFORMATION that targeted the Romanian audience in 2021. The broad category of this meta-narrative also includes a number of specific narratives - a second-hand NATO state that “pays tribute” by acquiring second-hand technology, a country led by Western ambassadors, looted by foreigners who have seized its resources, dictate its policies, decide its future and treat Romanians as they please.
  2. Romanians’ Christian identity is threatened by foreign forces and ideologies (the EU, Soros, sex-Marxists). They undermine traditional values ​​(primarily the family), seek to impose gender or LGBTQI ideologies, and even ban Christian holidays and names, according to a wide range of false narratives promoted in Romania by publications that amplify the Kremlin propaganda, as well as some that are inspired by the ​​American alt-right or the European right. It is practically a variation of the Russian theme of the (Orthodox) city under siege (the degenerate “Gayropa” ideology). Anti-immigrant propaganda (migration being a threat to racial identity) falls into the same category, but as Romania is more of a secondary transit country for migrants, interventions on this topic are rather secondary. The church, groups such as the Coalition for the Family or parties like AUR (The Alliance for the Union of Romanians) have taken up the mission of defending Romanians' identity.
  3. Throughout history, Russia has been a friend of Romania and has fought for its liberation. The narratives about the Russian-Romanian friendship seem to ignore Moscow's many acts of aggression, seizure of territories - primarily the one enshrined in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact - and a number of other acts that have cost Romania a lot, such as the seizure of the Treasury or plundering the economy through the so-called SovRoms. Russia is engaged in an extensive process of historical revisionism, one of the main objectives being to change the narrative of World War II so that the USSR appears as an aggressed state (its aggressions against the Baltic states, Romania, Poland and Finland being “forgotten”) which has the unique merit of having won the conflagration. This historical revisionism is translated in Romania by resurrecting the historical theses from the communist period. At the same time, a campaign is underway to victimize Russia, whose image is allegedly suffering from the West’s hostility and propaganda.  
  4. The anti-Covid measures decided by the authorities are ineffective. In 2021, the campaign challenging the sanitary measures taken to combat the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continued. The lockdown and the use of masks were termed as ineffective, alternative treatments were advocated, promoted by obscure doctors or influencers without medical training, which did not receive the approval of the Romanian or European health authorities (Arbidol, Ivermectin), and the effectiveness of anti-Covid vaccines was challenged. Such false narratives are often promoted with the help of pseudo-scientific data - either false or out-of-context information, a particular category being that of adverse reactions to vaccines - as well as by medical staff, usually specializing in fields that are in no way related with virology, or so-called alternative medicine experts.
  5. Anti-Covid measures violate fundamental freedoms. This type of discourse has become increasingly heated in the context of debates over the introduction of the digital Covid certificate, which has been said, for example, to violate the constitutional right to work (although the Constitution clearly provides in Article 53 the possibility of restricting the exercise of some rights and freedoms in order to protect public health). The narratives in this category all start from the deliberate confusion between issues of a political nature (fundamental rights and freedoms) and of a sanitary nature (health policies, decided on the basis of expertise and scientific data).
Top 5 FAKE NEWS
  1. FAKE NEWS: Romania is ruled by foreign ambassadors. Romania is ruled by foreign ambassadors, an online publication writes, referring to an older narrative used extensively in recent years by populist, nationalist or corrupt figures. This time, the argument used to support the narrative is a statement by Senate Speaker Anca Dragu, saying she has regular meetings with representatives of the diplomatic corps.
  2. FAKE NES: Russia, the victim of Western propaganda.   Moscow's military exercises in Crimea are legitimate because they take place on Russian territory, the Russian Ambassador to Bucharest Valeri Kuzmin said in an interview in which he resumed a series of Kremlin propaganda theses, including some on World War II. Kuzmin also said that Russia had every right to conduct large-scale military exercises on its territory, except that, under international law, the Crimean Peninsula, illegally annexed following a military invasion in 2014, is not part of its territory.
  3. FAKE NEWS: Europe on the brink of a catastrophic power outage. A major power outage, which could last up to two weeks, is imminent in the European Union, stated part of the Romanian media, starting from an alleged warning from the Austrian defense minister. In fact, the Austrian army only considers the possibility of a power outage as part of its crisis prevention program and has launched an information campaign for the population that is by no means unusual.
  4. FAKE NEWS: The European Commission “cancels” Christmas and bans the use of the Christian name Mary. The European Commission wants to “cancel” Christmas in a bid to impose a language that undermines the European’s Christian identity. This false narrative refers to a set of communication guidelines that has been withdrawn by the Commission in the meantime. The guide does not seek to impose anything on the EU citizens - it is strictly about the way in which the European officials communicate, in order to make sure that such communication does not harm the feelings of any minority or EU citizen.
  5. FAKE NEWS: Romania has sent military equipment and troops to Ukraine and NATO will let it stand alone. Romania has been dragged into a trap by its NATO allies to send military equipment, troops and instructors to Ukraine, but when Russia will start the war against this country, Bucharest will be left to stand alone, according to a false narrative published by Evenimentul Zilei.
Top 5 DISINFORMATION
  1. DISINFORMATION: Masks and lockdown are useless, Covid-19 exposure ensures herd immunity. The virulence and origin of SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19, prevention measures, treatments, etc. were all the target of controversial narratives. One of the most common methods was to cite people in the medical system who, for one reason or another, had different opinions. This is also the case with this disinformation that started from the controversial Flavia Groșan, the doctor who claimed to have discovered an extremely effective anti-Covid treatment, said that the measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were ineffective and cited an alleged British example of herd immunity. Her statements were widely taken over and underlined by publications that were skeptical about the vaccine.
  2. DISINFORMATION: The killing of the bear Arthur proves Romania is a Western colony. The hunting of a trophy bear by a Lichtenstein prince was used as a pretext for the resumption of narratives that present Romania as a Western colony. The disinformation sought to take advantage of the wave of outrage triggered by this case, which is already the subject of a criminal trial for poaching and illegal use of a firearm.
  3. DISINFORMATION: Romania was liberated by the Red Army and the Tudor Vladimirescu division, made up of anti-fascist volunteers. 77 years since the Tudor Vladimirescu Division entered Bucharest, the Russian Embassy in Romania reiterated a number of older narratives about Romania’s liberation by the Red Army, the role played by the abovementioned division, made up of former Romanian prisoners of war, as well as about Romania’s cooperation with the USSR. In fact, the “volunteers” were forced to choose between becoming doomed prisoners in Siberia (comrades of theirs had died both on the way to and in the camps) and the possibility of their rights being reinstated.
  4. DISINFORMATION: Romania is becoming an orthodox front against the West. A political force will rise in Romania that will take power to fight for the country’s sovereignty and for the Orthodox Church, the Kremlin’s mouthpiece, Sputnik, writes. Mention is made specifically of AUR, a party that grew in the niche of populist nationalism occupied in the West by far-right parties that are well-regarded by the Kremlin.
  5. DISINFORMATION: Romania-NATO’s dumpster. Romania has become a dumpster for the military equipment discarded by other NATO member states, which is illustrative of its servitude towards the Allies. The narrative aims to weaken the audience’s trust in the international structures that Romania is part of and which ensures its security and development opportunities – the US and NATO. It also relates to the false narrative about the Western colony.
3 most outlandish narratives
  1. The zombie apocalypse is coming in 2021, but humanity will be saved by robot people and the church. Sputnik attributed to Nostradamus prophecies that “confirm” conspiracy theories, modern false narratives, and risks considered by scientists. The zombie apocalypse, world hunger, catastrophic solar storms, an asteroid hitting Earth, chips implanted in soldiers are some of the conspiracy theories that go into this category of bizarre fake news promoted by the Kremlin mouthpiece.
  2. Ceausescu was a great leader of sovereign Romania. Sputnik has joined the trend that is trying to rehabilitate Nicolae Ceausescu and accredit the idea that he was a great leader and a great patriot, and Romania allegedly flourished when he was in power. Concepts are circulating that meet with sovereignism, national-communism and proto-Cronyism.
  3. The Great Reset seeks to kill the elderly with coronavirus and vaccines. The elderly population is the target of a real purge campaign in which they are isolated from the rest of the population, exposed to coronavirus infection and injected with “vaccines” that kill them. This is fake news published in Romania that takes elements from older narratives, including some promoted by Russia and China, as well as a more recent conspiracy theory of the Great Reset.

 


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