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FAKE NEWS: Maia Sandu is both for and against the Transnistrian separatists

Transnistria
©EPA/STR  |   A general view of the checkpoint at the border of Moldova and the breakaway Transnistrian Republic, near Bender, 65 km Vest from Chisinau, 17 April 2014.

After meeting with the Kremlin envoy Dmitri Kozak, Maia Sandu was simultaneously accused of representing the interests of the separatist regime in Tiraspol and of supporting a so-called blockade imposed on Transnistria by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

NEWS: “The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, assured the deputy head of the Kremlin presidential administration, Dmitri Kozak, that she cares about the wellbeing of the separatists in Transnistria, Telegraph.md writes. This was stated by Kozak after the meeting with Sandu, at the Presidency. In particular, Putin's envoy was asked by a journalist if there had been talk about Ukraine and Moldova potentially setting up a blockade of Transnistria. The Russian official dismantled the rumor, saying that Maia Sandu assured him that there would be no blockade. Moreover, the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova is negotiating with the Ukrainian side the lifting of certain restrictions for Transnistria, which should enter into force on September 1, 2021.“Journalist: Dmitry Nikolaevich, there are fears in Transnistria that blockade measures would be set up in early autumn, by both Moldova and Ukraine, targeting Transnistria. Were there any talks on this matter?Dmitry Kozak: Maya Grigorievna assured me that no one should have such worries, there will be no blockade and they are doing everything to prevent this from happening on September 1, if any restrictions come into force; negotiations are underway with Kiev, starting from the fact that citizens of the Republic of Moldova live on the territory of Transnistria”, the Russian official stated.

We recall that Dmitri Kozak came to the Republic of Moldova at the invitation of Maia Sandu.”

NARRATIVES: 1. Maia Sandu is defending the separatist regime in Transnistria; 2. Moldova and Ukraine intend to organize a blockade of Transnistria.

CONTEXT:  The deputy head of the Kremlin's presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak, paid a visit to Chisinau on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, where he met with President Maia Sandu and members of the new government. According to a statement from the Presidency, the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict was also addressed during the meeting. “We have reconfirmed the position of the Republic of Moldova in relaunching the settlement process by exclusively peaceful means, using political and diplomatic tools and the existing negotiating framework, while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within its internationally recognized borders”, the head of state reiterated. This was the first visit of a Russian dignitary after the inauguration of the new pro-European government in Chisinau. Dmitry Kozak, a close collaborator of Vladimir Putin’s, holds one of the highest positions in the Kremlin: deputy to the presidential administration. Also, in 2018, he was appointed special envoy of the Russian president for economic and trade relations with the Republic of Moldova. Kozak has been known in Chisinau since 2003, when he drafted a plan to resolve the Transnistrian conflict, also known as the Kozak Memorandum. The plan provided for the federalization of the Republic of Moldova, which would have given Tiraspol a veto right on key issues regarding Moldova's policy. The document, which was to be signed in Chisinau by Vladimir Putin, was rejected by the Republic of Moldova at the last minute.The Transnistrian issue is the most sensitive topic in the dialogue between Chisinau and Moscow. The 1992 war, triggered and supported by the Russian Federation, turned into a frozen conflict after the ceasefire agreement was signed. The Kremlin refuses to withdraw its troops and arms from the Transnistrian region, as it should, in line with its commitments, and continues to support the separatist regime in Tiraspol. This frozen conflict allowed the Republic of Moldova to remain within the area of ​​Russian influence. Also, political control over Chisinau is maintained through threats concerning the debts for the gas consumed by the Transnistrian region.

PURPOSE:  The narratives aim to compromise President Maia Sandu, associating her with the separatist regime in Tiraspol. At the same time, the news, which does not present real and complete information on the measures that will enter into force on September 1, promotes the false message conveyed by the Tiraspol regime regarding a so-called “blockade” of the region, thus shifting the emphasis from the compliance with the legislation in force.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The blockade measures mentioned by the quoted source do not exist. In reality, these are some requirements regarding the circulation on Ukrainian territory of vehicles registered in the Transnistrian region. From September 1, 2021, in Ukraine access will be allowed only to those vehicles from the Transnistrian region that have license plates with the inscription MD (“neutral”). Cars registered in the Transnistrian (illegal) secessionist region were not allowed to drive outside the Republic of Moldova anyway, except for Ukraine. And that since 2018, when Chisinau and Tiraspol agreed that cars in the Transnistrian region should be registered under “neutral” number plates. For this purpose, territorial offices of the Public Services Agency of the Republic of Moldova were opened in Tiraspol and Râbniţa, and the mechanism for assigning such plates was simplified. This requirement was due to enter into force on 15 January 2021, but was postponed until 1 September, on the grounds that the population was not sufficiently informed about these measures.The “economic blockade” narrative was used before by the former separatist leader in Tiraspol, in the 2006 election campaign in the Transnistrian region, when businessmen on the left bank of the Dniester had to comply with the legal framework of the Republic of Moldova in order to be able to carry out foreign economic activities. The narrative has been recently resumed, in the context of the parliamentary elections in Chisinau, by the very State Duma of the Russian Federation.Regarding the narrative according to which Maia Sandu “will negotiate for the benefit of the separatists”, the head of state has never made statements in support of the separatist regime in Tiraspol. Against this background, the regime, the secessionist, illegal administration of the Transnistrian region, should not be mistaken for the population there, who are citizens of the Republic of Moldova, equal in rights with other citizens on the right bank of the DniesterIt is also worth noting the turn that the narratives take. In the election campaigns and after Maia Sandu won the presidential election, disinformation was promoted that she would destabilize the situation in the Transnistrian region and trigger a new conflict. Now, however, a totally different story is being told, namely that Maia Sandu would negotiate in favor of the separatist regime in Tiraspol.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: Maia Sandu had a meeting with Dmitry Kozak, with whom she discussed the main issues on the Moldovan – Russian agenda, including the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict.

As of September 1, 2021, only cars from the Transnistrian region that have “neutral” license plates with the inscription MD will be allowed to drive across Ukraine.

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  • Publication / Media:
    Telegraph.md
  • Date of publication:
    12/08/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Maia Sandu’s supporters, who must be discouraged
  • Political affiliation:
    PSRM
  • Key narrative:
    Maia Sandu supports separatism in Tiraspol
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  • After meeting with the Kremlin envoy Dmitri Kozak, Maia Sandu was simultaneously accused of representing the interests of the separatist regime in Tiraspol and of supporting a so-called blockade imposed on Transnistria by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. Maia Sandu is defending the separatist regime in Transnistria; 2. Moldova and Ukraine intend to organize a blockade of Transnistria.
  • PURPOSE: The narratives aim to compromise President Maia Sandu, associating her with the separatist regime in Tiraspol. At the same time, the news, which does not present real and complete information on the measures that will enter into force on September 1, promotes the false message conveyed by the Tiraspol regime regarding a so-called “blockade” of the region, thus shifting the emphasis from the compliance with the legislation in force.
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