Andrei Rusu: Goal of Russian propaganda is to discredit Moldova’s relations with Western partners

Russia is waging a hybrid information war against the Republic of Moldova and the goal of the Kremlin’s acolytes is to discredit the official Chisinau’s relations with the Western partners, Whatchdog expert Andrei Rusu stated in IPN’s public debate “What interests does “struggle for peace” hide in wartime?”. According to him, the Moldovan authorities should more often explain to society the actions taken in the military sector in order not to leave room for interpretations and to stop the spread of fake news.

The Whatchdog expert noted that Russia is trying through propaganda and disinformation to induce the idea that the rapprochement with the West means drawing states into war. This narrative is intensely used by the Kremlin’s acolytes in the Republic of Moldova, who argue for neutrality and for keeping the defense and security system in a deplorable state.

“The narrative that the West is dragging the Republic of Moldova into war is not new. This untruth was promoted not only in the Republic of Moldova. It was also actively promoted in Ukraine before the full-scale invasion, and in Georgia in 2008, when this country wanted to become a member of the EU and NATO and Russia started the war in South Ossetia. The goal is to discredit any relationship with partners from the West, which is beneficial to the Republic of Moldova. Propagandists try to induce false messages that Europe is arming us, Europe is sending all kinds of military observers. There was even a falsehood about the French military attaché. It went only to one person, a woman, but Russian propaganda created a falsehood that an entire delegation was coming. Another example concerns the Piranha armored vehicles. Irina Vlah was outraged by the fact that Germany sends us Piranha armored vehicles. Those armored vehicles were transmitted to the Peacekeeping Battalion that is now active in Kosovo,” said the media monitoring expert.

Andrei Rusu also said that Moscow is intensifying its false narratives in all the Eastern European state in order to keep them in its sphere of influence. The Kremlin’s rhetoric is replicated in Chisinau by politicians, such as Igor Dodon, Irina Vlah and Ilan Shor, who intensely promote their messages especially in social media.

“The Russians have launched a fiction that NATO wants to open cyber laboratories in Eastern European states to launch campaigns against the Russian Federation, which is not true. NATO is securing its eastern flank from the Russian Federation’s disinformation campaigns. The only state that is waging a hybrid information war in this area is the Russian Federation. We feel it on our own skin. For example, we see how Ilan Shor circulates all kinds of untruths in the social media. When Antony Blinken was in Chisinau, Ilan Shor disseminated a video saying that the U.S. was in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and now they are coming to the Republic of Moldova to bring war, as if Russia, which is the successor of the USSR, was not at war in Afghanistan, in Syria and in other parts of the world. Russia condemns our military exercises, which are taking place legally on our territory, but I have never seen Igor Dodon or Irina Vlah condemn the military exercises that Russia is conducting in the Transnistrian region, illegally,” the Whatchdog expert stated.

He noted that in order to debunk disinformation, the Moldovan authorities must effectively tell society about the actions taken and cooperate with large international companies in order to regulate the online information space.

“The authorities must appear in public as much as possible and inform about the actions they are taking so as not to give those who are affiliated to the Kremlin the opportunity to interpret or launch falsehoods about actions in the field of defense. Society should also get involved. The youngest, who understand how Russian propaganda works, should talk to relatives and inform them about the untruths circulating in the information space. This is how we can build resilience in society. With regard to the advertisements sponsored by Ilan Shor or Veaceslav Platon, which contribute to the disinformation of society, a solution would be for the Republic of Moldova to connect to the EU Digital Services Act. Thus Moldova will become a stronger voice in the international space and will have a say in disinformation in social media because now no international company takes into account the position of our country. A year ago, the SIS sent a letter to the META platform to block the pages of Ilan Shor, Marina Tauber and other acolytes, but only a year later was the decision taken,” said Andrei Rusu.

The public debate entitled “What interests does “struggle for peace” hide in wartime?” was the 307th installment of the series “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. The project is supported by the German “Hanns Seidel” Foundation.

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