Protesters have been marching on the streets of Moldova for months because of rising energy and food costs. But while the cost-of living crisis is causing pain, the government says that outside forces are fuelling the unrest.
Pro-Western leaders accused Russia defaming the gas supply cuts to increase prices and spread propaganda, as well as backing a plot against them.
Moscow and the politicians of Moldova‘s proRussian SOR party contest the claims.
Marina Tauber (SOR party vice president) says, “We are supporting protest because life became too difficult in our country.” “We, the parliamentary faction and parliamentary party, don’t feel this [Russian] interference.”
According to Maia Sandu, President of Moldova, they are fighting a hybrid conflict and are being attacked by Kremlin interference. This is an attempt to destabilize Ukraine’s neighbors.
According to the interior ministry, there has been an “explosion in security threats” over the past year. This includes hundreds of hoaxes, a coup plot, and an online disinformation campaign.
Watchdog MD, a monitoring group, claims that Russian disinformation has rocketed tenfold since the conflict in Ukraine.
Next month, the funding for the small team will expire.
They will continue to compile lists with concerning content that has been shared thousands upon thousands of times.
These posts include fake polls that compare the president to Hitler and footage of an old military parade, relabelled as Romanian troops heading towards the Moldovan border.
It claims it is part of a propaganda campaign Russia is using to disrupt the peace.
“We are not under siege as the Ukrainians, but we feel the pressure from here, Kyiv, you may know. Andrei Curararu, Watchdog MD analyst, says that the future of the country is at stake.
Russia is a strong country
However, public opinion is split.
Many people in Gagauzia, a pro-Russian autonomous territory, feel closer to Moscow and the West.
Recent polls showed that 93.8% of respondents had a positive or very positive attitude towards the Russian Federation.
Most people trust Russian mass media more than those from Moldova.
No one in the capital’s market, Comrat, believes Russia to be a threat.
Valentina, a cheese seller, fondly recalls their time in Soviet Union.
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“Do you think Russia is trying to hurt Moldova?” I’m curious.
She replies, “No… All our lives we lived under Soviet Union and our country did nothing bad to us.”
“And you trust President Putin?” I’m curious.
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She says, “I believe that everyone is worthy of protection.”
Leonid, a shopkeeper, shares his thoughts and says: “I am not happy with the current situation in Moldova.
“Why must we only look at the West?” Why can’t Russia be our first choice? It is a strong country. You underestimate Russia. He says Russia is underestimated.
However, Moldova’s leaders aren’t sharing this trust and continue to fight disinformation that they claim is meant to spread panic and unease.