Today 17 September 2019, Tuesday - Last updated at 16 September 2019
Abonamente

News 3 August 2019, at 08:02

Disinformation and European erosion in Romania

Marime Font

Romania has a reputation as one of the most pro-EU and pro-US countries in Europe.

Public opinion barometers demonstrate it. For geopolitical and historical reasons, the Eastern European state has struggled to normalize its relation with Russia. Although Russian business in present in the Romanian economy, especially in the energy field, cooperation between the two nations is still far below potential. Cooperation levels are unlikely to improve in light of recent attempts by Moscow to meddle in Romania’s path toward European integration.

Even in Romania, where public opinion is unlikely to deviate from its strong pro-European orientation, the Kremlin is deploying its established disinformation techniques. Focusing on the long-term, Moscow hopes to exploit the cleavages that polarize Romanian society and degrade EU – Romania relations. A discussion of the Kremlin’s strategy will hopefully elicit vigorous policy improvements and mitigate damage done to both Romanian society and the country’s relationship with its EU counterparts.


Overview of the narratives

In Romania, there are several anti-EU narratives on which a growing nationalistic movement bases its propaganda. Among these, the Kremlin promotes those (in bold) it identifies as most helpful to its strategy:

Unpacking Russian disinformation efforts

Among the groups most susceptible to influence by pro-Kremlin propaganda are Romanian nationalists driven by strong social conservative and anti-capitalist outbursts. They often castigate Romania’s alliance with the West, militate for a non-aligned and “independent” path for the country, and argue in favor of a friendly relationship with Russia. The usual message conveyed is that of a bleak international milieu in which the West and American hegemony are blamed for disguised imperialism. Undoubtedly, repetition of this narrative by not-so-marginal political leaders has political consequences.

“Romania as a colony” is one of the frames that, worryingly, has gained ground in the discourse of mainstream politicians and parties. The narrative grew out of the growing tension between Romania’s ruling party and EU officials. Certain prominent political personalities frequently promote the colony idea. These communicators are not necessarily connected to Russia, but they have been useful “dummies”; the Kremlin has tried to popularize these personalities and the Kremlin-friendly narratives they voice. However, some of these individuals and groups have become fringe elements after losing in May’s EU elections.

Similarly, religious conservatives constitute another vulnerable group predisposed to favor pro-Kremlin propaganda. As per this group, the dysfunctionality of the decadent West is evident when compared with Romania’s ethically superior traditional society and religious beliefs. There is an entire movement in the country preaching against multiculturalism, Islam, political correctness, and “sexo-Marxism.” The Kremlin could easily exploit the religious stratum’s preexisting skepticism of the West to drive a wedge between the country and the European Union.

Finally, communist nostalgics constitute another group vulnerable to exploitation by pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns. Generally, Romanians nostalgic for communism have been affected by the chaotic transition in Romania from centralized governance to global capitalism, often being economically marginalized. There are active Facebook pages that frequently post pictures with claims of how well Romanians lived under Communism compared to the uncertainty characterizing today’s life. Romanians with this communist lean are also particularly prone to conspiracy theories.

The role of the media and the policy response

The Romanian media landscape appears to be fertile ground for misinformation. Some websites, although marginal, even have an overt pro-Russian inclination, as documented by EU vs Disinfo. These websites converge with Kremlin-sponsored disinformation in their aversion toward the West and their propensity for conspiracies and spreading panic. To attempt to distract from their overt bias, these websites also publish articles that are skeptical—and sometimes critical—of Russian actions in Romania’s vicinity. These platforms serve as multipliers for narratives that promote the Kremlin’s goal of weakening Romania’s pro-Western sentiment. More importantly, they allow pro-Russian internet platforms and trolls to blend in in an informational spectrum characterized by an appetite for this type of nationalistic sentiment.

None of the traditional media outlets transmit or retransmit pro-Kremlin narratives, with the exception of a pre-election day interview with the Russian ambassador on one of Romania’s main news channels. However, in their search for “sensational” stories, mainstream media outlets may reproduce news reports concocted by pro-Kremlin news agencies. For instance, the “Soros” narrative has also made several headlines in Romania, affecting political personalities including a former prime minister caught up in a fake news campaign that claimed he was the kin of the American billionaire.

At the policy level, the Romanian National Defense Strategy for 2015-2019 explicitly identifies Russia as a threat to Romanian and European security. In an implicit reference to the Kremlin’s destabilization efforts, the strategy report also names “cyber threats initiated by hostile entities, state or non-state” and the “perpetuation of the frozen conflicts in the Black Sea Region and instability in the Western Balkans” as crucial security issues for Romania. Likewise, the 2016 Military Strategy of Romania names hybrid warfare, intelligence operations, and cyberattacks on its list of potential military risks and threats. At the same time, despite overt political acknowledgement of the threat posed by the Kremlin, Romania’s response strategy is relatively passive compared to other EU states such as the Baltics.

In Romania, the spread of pro-Kremlin misinformation is very subtle, since language and historical barriers impede the precise retransmission of propagandistic messages with maximum efficiency. Romanians are also hesitant, for justified historical reasons, to embrace Russia and the Kremlin. Thus, the Kremlin’s disinformation considers country specifics and chiefly exploits local political squabbling, as well as institutional and democratic weaknesses – an aspect of its disinformation strategy that should not be ignored by decision-makers. Useful political dummies and online disinformation can lead to degradation of Romanians’ already-low trust in national institutions and, subsequently, to contestation of the EU model. As such, Romanian policymakers and citizens need to recognize the gravity of the threat posed by disinformation and formulate a stronger response to mitigate its negative effects.

By Radu Magdin, for Disinfo Portal

Radu Magdin is a Romanian analyst and vice president of the think tank Strategikon.
https://www.stopfake.org 

 Urmărește știrile Timpul.md pe Telegram
blog comments powered by Disqus

Din aceeaşi secţiune

Cele mai noi ştiri de azi

News 9 September 2019, ora: 12:07

Moldova not recognizing so-called elections in Crimea and Sevastopol

Moldova not recognizing so-called elections in Crimea and Sevastopol

Moldova does not recognize the so-called elections that were held in Russia-annexed Crimea and Sevastopol on September 8, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova has reported.

( ) Read all

News 8 September 2019, at: 19:29

The Washington Post: Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election

The Washington Post: Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election

 UKRAINE’S NEOPHYTE president, Volodymyr Zelensky, took a big step this week toward proving that he will be, as he promised, the most pro-reform president in Ukraine’s history. On Monday, he laid out a breathtakingly ambitious five-year plan including virtually every measure the...

( ) Read all

News 7 September 2019, ora: 19:23

Film director Oleg Sentsov among 70 released in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap / VIDEO

Film director Oleg Sentsov among 70 released in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap / VIDEO

 Russia and Ukraine carried out a long-awaited swap of 70 prisoners on Saturday, in a deal hailed by President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “first step” towards ending their conflict.

( ) Read all

News 1 September 2019, ora: 08:51

ECHR to consider Ukraine's ‘Crimean’ lawsuit against Russia in September

ECHR to consider Ukraine's ‘Crimean’ lawsuit against Russia in September

 In September, the European Court of Human Rights will consider an interstate case on a lawsuit filed by Ukraine against Russia on March 13, 2014, regarding the violation of human rights in the territory of the annexed Crimea.

( ) Read all

News 31 August 2019, ora: 10:20

Vladimir Putin and his minions continue to whitewash the Stalinist past (washingtonpost.com)

Vladimir Putin and his minions continue to whitewash the Stalinist past (washingtonpost.com)

This past week, the Russian Military Historical Society — a government-affiliated body headed by Vladimir Putin’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky — concluded its second research expedition to the Sandarmokh forest in the northwestern region of Karelia. Its purported aim was...

( ) Read all

News 29 August 2019, ora: 07:14

Soviet Symbols Aren't 'Funny,' Lithuania Tells Amazon

Soviet Symbols Aren't 'Funny,' Lithuania Tells Amazon

 Lithuania has urged American online retailer Amazon to stop selling clothing featuring the hammer and sickle and other Soviet symbols, which it says are offensive to victims of Soviet-era persecution.

( ) Read all

News 16 August 2019, ora: 08:55

PM’s Plan to Commemorate Victims of Totalitarianism Divides Moldova

PM’s Plan to Commemorate Victims of Totalitarianism Divides Moldova

 Move by pro-EU Prime Minister to turn August 23 into a day of remembrance for victims of totalitarianism may trigger an ideological fight with her pro-Russian coalition partners – who celebrate the victory in 1944 of the Soviet Red Army on that day.

( ) Read all

News 15 August 2019, at: 18:43

The Washington Times Kremlin rewriting World War II history

Kremlin rewriting World War II history

 Sept. 1 marks the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland — an event that heralded the beginning of World War II. Two years later, the United States entered the war as an ally of both Great Britain and the Soviet Union. By that time, France and numerous other...

( ) Read all

News 9 August 2019, ora: 18:38

What are Moscow’s protesters supposed to be guilty of?

What are Moscow’s protesters supposed to be guilty of?

 Protesters in Moscow have been charged with violating three articles of Russia’s criminal code. Stanislav Andreychuk and Denis Shadrin, experts from Golos, consider the most outrageous examples.

( ) Read all

News 8 August 2019, ora: 20:54

7 facts about the Lithuanian language

7 facts about the Lithuanian language

 The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest languages in the world.

( ) Read all

News 6 August 2019, ora: 07:01

Bloomberg World's Richest Lose $117 Billion in One-Day Market Meltdown

World's Richest Lose $117 Billion in One-Day Market Meltdown

The wealthiest 500 people on Earth lost 2.1% of their collective net worth on Monday as U.S. stocks plunged in their biggest drop this year. 

( ) Read all

News 4 August 2019, ora: 17:54

Foreign Policy The Longest Wars

The Longest Wars

 One of the most celebrated diplomats of his generation, Richard Holbrooke helped normalize U.S. relations with China; served as U.S. ambassador to a newly reunified Germany and then to the United Nations; and, most famously, negotiated the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in...

( ) Read all

News 3 August 2019, ora: 08:01

Turkey Jails Another Professor Deported from Moldova

Turkey Jails Another Professor Deported from Moldova

Turkey has jailed another of the seven teachers controversially deported from Moldova last year – handing down a stiff prison sentence of 12 years.

( ) Read all

News 30 July 2019, ora: 09:15

Dodon Ally Becomes Moldova’s New Anti-Graft Chief

Dodon Ally Becomes Moldova’s New Anti-Graft Chief

The appointment of Ruslan Flocea as new head of the National Anti-corruption Centre, CNA, sees another former adviser to the Pro-Russian President taking a top job in the Moldovan state.

( ) Read all

News 29 July 2019, ora: 08:24

Exclusive: Russia wants short-term gas deal with Ukraine before bypass routes complete (reuters)

Exclusive: Russia wants short-term gas deal with Ukraine before bypass routes complete (reuters)

Russia wants to strike a short-term deal with Kiev on gas transit to Europe when the current 10-year agreement expires in order to buy time to complete pipelines that will bypass Ukraine, four sources familiar with Russian thinking said.

( ) Read all

News 27 July 2019, ora: 09:30

Naftogaz CEO hopes to strike deal with Moldova on use of Ukrainian GTS, USFs

Naftogaz CEO hopes to strike deal with Moldova on use of Ukrainian GTS, USFs

Kobolyev noted that cooperation with Moldova will ensure an additional load on Ukrainian storage facilities and gas transmission systems.

( ) Read all

News 26 July 2019, ora: 10:25

Russia says it will ban think tank formerly run by U.S. ambassador

Russia says it will ban think tank formerly run by U.S. ambassador

Russia said on Thursday it was preparing to ban the Atlantic Council, a think tank formerly run by the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, which Russia's prosecutor general described as a security threat.

( ) Read all

News 26 July 2019, at: 09:33

Moldova, A Wine Experience Out Of The Ordinary

Moldova, A Wine Experience Out Of The Ordinary

Looking for a combined wine and gastronomy vacation? Looking for something adventurous and a bit off the beaten track? Try Moldova. This is probably not the first country that pops up in your mind. Some people may not even know it as a wine country. But it definitely is one. And an old one at that.

( ) Read all

News 25 July 2019, ora: 10:32

Moscow’s Man Eyes Second Term as Moldova’s President

Moscow’s Man Eyes Second Term as Moldova’s President

As he seeks re-election in 2020, Igor Dodon has made no secret of his close ties to the Kremlin – but critics cay his assiduous courtship of Russia has not brought Moldova any obvious benefits.

( ) Read all

News 23 July 2019, ora: 15:37

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

The Commission has resumed budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova by disbursing €14.54 million today to support the implementation of the EU-Moldova free trade agreement, to finance vocational education trainings and to assist the implementation of the visa liberalisation...

( ) Read all

News 21 July 2019, ora: 22:16

Forbes Russia's Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: 'Largest Data Breach In Its History'

Russia's Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: 'Largest Data Breach In Its History'

 Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSB—Russia's Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media,...

( ) Read all

News 20 July 2019, ora: 09:52

Ukraine's Constitutional Court Upholds Law Equating Communism To Nazism

Ukraine's Constitutional Court Upholds Law Equating Communism To Nazism

Ukraine's Constitutional Court has upheld a law that equates communism to Nazism and bans the dissemination of its symbols, a law that has prompted angry protests from Moscow.

( ) Read all

News 19 July 2019, ora: 17:38

Turkish Court Jails Professor Deported from Moldova

Turkish Court Jails Professor Deported from Moldova

One of the seven Turkish teachers controversially deported from Moldova to Turkey has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for terrorism-related offences.

( ) Read all
Current tier / breakpoint: xs sm md lg xl (= visible only on this breakpoint)

.hidden-xs-down .hidden-sm-down .hidden-md-down .hidden-lg-down

.hidden-xs-up .hidden-sm-up .hidden-md-up .hidden-lg-up .hidden-xl

.hidden-xs (only) .hidden-sm (only) .hidden-md (only) .hidden-lg (only) .hidden-xl (only)