The ghost of the evil Stranger (coming from the West) has been haunting last week’s fake narratives in Chisinau. Dodon’s opponents are being assisted by foreign advisors who are on the payroll of Moldova’s fugitive oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc; embassies are coordinating Maia Sandu’s election campaign; the EU is fomenting a post-election Maidan, and the US is undermining the peace process in the breakaway region of Transnistria. Fortunately, there is some good news as well: the economy is in full swing, and prosecutors are chasing the oligarch even beyond Moldova’s borders, in places like Romania, France and Switzerland. And Russia is making it even better by being the odd one out in all this malevolence and showing that a friend in need is a friend in deed. Beyond all this commotion - and apparently quite impervious to it – the heroes of the Soviet Union are staring confidently into the bright future, while reminding passers-by across Chisinau about the Golden Age of yore.
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1. Fake News Week, in Brief
During her term as Prime Minister, Maia Sandu did not carry out any reforms required by the European Union to unlock Macro-Financial assistance from the EU, according to some virtually identical stories published by several Russian, and Romanian language media outlets. The news is based on an economic expert’s Facebook claim that he has conducted a “complex study”; however, the claim is not backed up by any details about the study or its methodology. The aim seems to be to undermine Maia Sandu’s reformist image; in addition, it is suggested that former prime-minister Pavel Filip (who was a member of Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party) and current premier Ion Chicu (pro-Dodon) have carried out several reforms, despite the fact that financial assistance was blocked during Filip’s term, while, after the ousting of Maia Sandu, Chicu’s government missed the final tranche.
Maia Sandu is assisted by advisors and experts who are paid by the fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc. One of them, a Romanian citizen, used to advise Plahotniuc and is now also working for Renato Usatii, who is Igor Dodon’s main competitor for the votes of the pro-Russian electorate. The allegations will be investigated Moldova’s Intelligence and Security Service (SIS).
The assets of the fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc will be seized in Switzerland, France and Romania, as a result of the efforts of Moldovan prosecutors. The narrative, taken over by the mainstream media in the Republic of Moldova and Romania, is released in the election campaign to help Igor Dodon present himself as a fighter against corruption.
The Socialist Party affiliated media launched a campaign based on a World Bank report stating that the Republic of Moldova would grow by 3.5% in 2021. However, the coverage of the report does not mention that the World Bank expects a 5.2% downturn this year, so in 2021 the economy will be below last year’s level.
It is not the first time that the Republic of Moldova juggles numbers in the government’s own interest.
Russia delivers whatever Moldova needs - even the snow removal equipment for the coming winter.
The embassies are coordinating Maia Sandu’s campaign, and because the United States is increasingly present in the region, the EU intends to destabilize the Republic of Moldova after the elections.
2. Disinformation of the week
The United States wants to appoint a pro-Western government in Chisinau, and for this is willing to undermine the stability of the Republic of Moldova, undermining both a possible coalition between the Socialists and Maia Sandu and the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, where Russia would be willing to cooperate with Washington.
3. The narratives of the week
- The “Pro-European” Maia Sandu did nothing to implement European reforms during her term as Prime Minister.
- Dodon’s opponents are supported by Plahotniuc and manipulated by foreign advisers.
- The Dodon regime is fighting the oligarchic system and seeks to reclaim the people’s fortune.
- The current government manages internal affairs efficiently and ensures a robust economic growth.
- The West interferes in the internal affairs of the Republic of Moldova and extensively in the former Soviet states (still considered Russia’s area of influence).
- The embassies are coordinating Maia Sandu’s campaign.
- The EU intends to destabilize the Republic of Moldova after the elections.
- The EU is in competition for control of the region with the United States, which is trying to extend its dominance through the Bucharest-Gdansk highway.
- The USA seeks to influence the outcome of the elections in the Republic of Moldova.
- The West / USA undermines the stability of the Republic of Moldova (prevents a PAS-PSRM coalition) but also a possible peace process in Transnistria.
- The civil society in the Republic of Moldova (NGOs) is on the payroll of the West.
- The Republic of Moldova plays an important regional strategic role, for this reason the West is trying to bring it under control.
- Russia helps the Republic of Moldova and its citizens.
- The Republic of Moldova is part of the Soviet area and, implicitly, of the “Russian World”.
4. The Soviets of the Week
30 years after the collapse of the USSR, the monuments erected to celebrate the heroes and its mythology continue to mark the urban space in the Republic of Moldova. These monuments have a dual-purpose: they are reminders that keep Moldova anchored in the Soviet past, and they mobilize pro-Russian, nostalgic, sovereignist forces.
Mariana Vasilache and Aurel Obreja