The Platform for discussions focused on combating disinformation had its second working session

2024.02.08 Dezinformare Maria Procopciuc Print version


The Platform for discussions focused on combating disinformation in a national, regional, and international context, represented by journalists, students, teachers, and non-governmental organizations active in the field of disinformation, had its second working meeting. At the event have been presented two articles by two participants in the Training Program on Critical Thinking and Media Literacy. The articles  analyzed two impactful news topics, distorted or presented in an intentionally erroneous way, for the purpose of disinforming the Moldovan public opinion.

Cătălina Cernei tried to find out how, in some media sources, historical events related to the Romanian holiday "December 1" are manipulated for political purposes. She analyzed how "Komsomolskaya pravda v Moldove" and "Moldavskie Vedomosti" reflected on their web pages, the way in which the day of December 1, 2023, dedicated to the National Day of Romania, is being celebrated in the Republic of Moldova. The author found that the portals did not reflect the way Bessarabian Romanians marked this day, but only wrote about the public actions organized by certain groups against the celebration of Romania's National Day, thus distorting the historical facts in a way that promotes the ideology Moldovanism.

"Several news portals wrote about this event, but the articles published by "Komsomolskaya pravda v Moldove" and "Moldavskie Vedomosti" stood out with their obvious intention to misinform and manipulate public opinion.  "Komsomolskaya pravda v Maldove" ( has its roots in the Soviet totalitarian regime. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, it continued to operate, expanding to many post-Soviet countries, including the Republic of Moldova. has been part of Ilan Şor's "media empire" since the fall of 2023. At "Moldavskie Vedomosti", following the content they publish on the website, one can see the pro-Russian trend. On its Facebook page, the paper publishes and distributes daily posts that have a pro-Russian tone, posts that promote nostalgia for "Soviet Moldova etc.",, said Cătălina Cernei.

Ion Bunduchi, director of public policy within the Electronic Press Association, said that this kind of analysis is a very good and useful exercise, because it directs the public's attention to some important things and processes for society. The expert suggested to the author of the analysis, to complete the recommendations section, with a point, which would provide the closure of the "Komsomolskaya Pravda" portal in the Republic of Moldova. "Why should this portal exist in Moldova? We see how many messages are there in the public space that inertia we assimilate and remain thus mentally in the Soviet period. One goal of our enemies is to keep us with the mentality of where we came from. That's why this nostalgia is still very pronounced and there are still a lot of tools that maintain this nostalgia. Someone is interested in still having "Komsomolskaya pravda" in Moldova, a branch of a foreign newspaper. Maybe it's time to rethink our media space. Such propaganda tools are harmful because they keep us in the past", said Ion Bunduchi.

Oxana Iuteș, the director of Internews Moldova, suggested to the author, that when she produces such articles, not stop at just one or two media institutions, but take five or six and include materials that respect journalistic ethics and that do not respect, to show that balance that must be in the journalistic approach to a subject.

Irina Bejan, the executive director of the Regional Center for Community Development, analyzed how some public persons manipulate national security topics to destabilize public opinion, before the elections. The case study presented was the topic "gas for 10 lei". According to Irina Bejan, the efforts of some politicians aimed to destabilize public opinion, namely the ex-deputy with a criminal record, Ilan Șor, led to the promotion of disinformation at the highest possible levels. Thus, on the eve of the general local elections in the fall of 2023, the disinformation campaigns, promoted including by the new head of the UTA Gagauzia, Evghenia Guțul, exploited the insecurity of citizens frightened by the high prices of fuels and energy resources, circumstances that generated a favorable predisposition for the launch of a new fake in the online environment, namely "gas for 10 lei".

"These statements by the mayor, regarding the procurement of "gas for 10 lei" appeared in the media space before the elections and were promoted by the fugitive oligarch and other exponents of the ex-Sor Party. In the end, they not only failed to legally connect any household, but they could not even follow the legal route to reach the meters. We can affirm that these statements were smokescreens, thrown to influence both the general local elections and the emotional state of the citizens, who are daily victims of a hybrid war, with reduced energy security guarantees, are easier to influence and misinform. The messages of these politicians, such as that only those who will support the Şor Party in the elections will benefit from this cheap gas, prove that the statements are only political, not assumed. Şor and his affiliates are not the first to make electoral promises that have not been fulfilled. There were also unrealized and already forgotten promises, such as one thousand lei to the elderly; maternal capital of 10,000; teachers will be remunerated like bankers, and bankers - like teachers; free public transport; the creation of NORDLand, etc., mentioned Irina Bejan.

According to Ion Bunduchi, the topic of the study was chosen successfully, because Moldovans have a weakness for wanting everything to be as cheap as possible, and those who launched this idea knew where to aim and this is why their narrative was succesful. "It is very good that credible media sources were not overlooked in this analysis, even if in the country we should also have some state entities, which when a dangerous narrative for the country is identified, take measures, come up with reactions ", the expert pointed.

Carolina Ungureanu, project coordinator, deputy director of IDIS "Viitorul", remembered that the exercise on writing analyses/articles is a practical activity part of the Training program on critical thinking and media literacy, in which about 35 people participated, who now have the opportunity to apply the acquired knowledge in practice, in the writing of analyses/articles, which are presented within the Discussion Platform.

The Discussion Platform was launched on October 16, 2023, within the project "Supporting critical thinking and resistance to disinformation in the Republic of Moldova", implemented by IDIS "Viitorul", in the period January 2023 - October 2024, with the financial support of the Embassy of Finland to Bucharest. At the first meeting, the first five articles were presented. In total, seven articles were developed out of the total of 15 provided for in the project. The Discussion Platform aims to facilitate cooperation between the public, journalists, and the regulatory agency in the context of the fight against disinformation in a national, regional, and international context. Also, this aims to ensure a participative environment for debate, with workshops where topics related to critical thinking, media literacy, analysis, resistance to disinformation, and reflecting information of public interest are discussed in an unbiased manner.

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