Civil society strengthens commitment to protect national security under new hybrid threats

The Republic of Moldova continues to face a string of hybrid threats, many of them being rooted in the past, while others escalating since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The regions of the country where there are more Russian speakers and Moscow sympathizers are more affected. In these regions, the influence of pro-Russian forces and fugitive oligarchs who seek to spread all kinds of narratives, including anti-European ones, is particularly felt, ascertained journalists and activists who participated in a project implemented by the Foreign Policy Association (APE).

In a press conference hosted by IPN, Natalia Stercul, APE executive director, said that the project “Strengthening civil society’s engagement in national security protection under new hybrid threats” is implemented in partnership with Nord News, the European Center “Pro-Europe” in Comrat and the Security Zone platform. “The project activities included awareness-raising and information campaigns on new resilience measures against hybrid threats, cyber protection and promotion of security and defense culture, as well as improvement of media literacy. I want to draw special attention – we are convinced that this initiative has strengthened cooperation between the relevant actors to address issues related to the national security of the Republic of Moldova,” stated Natalia Stercul.

Victor Gaideec, a Nord News journalist, said northern Moldova remains extremely sensitive to hybrid challenges. Pro-Russian politicians continued to spread false information, taking advantage of people’s difficult economic situation. There was a lot of talk about the fact that Moldova buys gas at exaggerated prices. During the election campaign, it was speculated that thanks to Ilan Shor, the fugitive politician, gas in the north of the country would be bought for 10 lei per cubic meter. The most popular Telegram channel in northern Moldova, Balti Online, regularly distributes materials that promote Ilan Shor’s team and discredit the authorities, including through lies. The channel promotes Moscow’s narratives in the Russo-Ukrainian war, presenting news about Ukraine only in a negative context. The authorities must step up their efforts to combat threats to security and stability and do so more efficiently and professionally, without forgetting about cooperation with representatives of the press and civil society.

Snejana Caledji-Matkovskaya, executive director of the European Center “Pro-Europe” based in Comrat, said the mechanisms and tools for manipulating public opinion are largely the same. A huge negative influence is exerted on civil society. For this reason, the Association focused on campaigns to combat propaganda and inform the population, including about the benefits of the European integration that people in the region oppose due to the narratives promoted by politicians who want to maintain their electorate.

“Disinformation intensified together with the coming of the new regional power, the current Bashkan who is a representative of the unconstitutional Shor Party. Rallies, demonstrations, concerts were continuously organized, but the population doesn’t ask who finances them, where the money comes from. When asked by journalists, the organizers avoid naming the sponsors,” stated the activist.

The APE project is funded by a grant from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting with support from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Note: IPN News Agency offers the right of reply to persons who consider they were touched by the news items produced based on statements made by the organizers of the given news conference, including by facilitating the organization of another news conference in similar conditions.

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