On May 21, 2023, the Facebook user “Дженни Бурджанадзе” published an excerpt from a documentary produced by German journalist Markus Lanz. The documentary deals with the current situation in Moldova against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine. According to the description of the post, the story shows that the majority of the population of Moldova is anti-Western, is nostalgic about the socialist past, condemns the current regime and its leader Maia Sandu and has a negative attitude towards the Western leaders, Biden and Zelenskyy.
The excerpt from a documentary by German journalist Markus Lanz is being circulated on Facebook without full context. In the section, the respondents’ comments are selectively cut from the film and used to show the alleged anti-Western sentiment of the Moldovan population, while according to recent polls, the majority of the population, 63%, support EU membership.
Respondents’ Attitudes in Markus Lanz’s Documentary
The documentary – Moldawien ungeschminkt – by the German journalist and ZDF TV host, Markus Lanz, was published on May 18, 2023.
After arriving in Moldova, Lanz visited the separatist region of Transnistria and the autonomous territorial unit of Gagauzia, and Odesa, Ukraine. The story is mainly about how different attitudes that are present in Moldova and how different positions and interests are brought together in the region. In the documentary, the German journalist talked to respondents of different generations and asked them questions about their attitudes towards the Moldovan government, the West, Russia, the Soviet Union and the war in Ukraine. Lanz himself notes at the beginning of the documentary that the younger generation is pro-European, while the older generation is nostalgic for the Soviet Union. In the video distributed on Facebook, the comments of the respondents who are more pro-Russian are collected from the documentary. It is worth noting that people with different positions are interviewed in the story. For example, the story shows the demonstration of pro-Russian activists and supporters of the fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor and their pro-Russian positions, although Lantz also spoke to Natalia Zaharescu, an investigative journalist, who noted that the journalistic investigation revealed that the organizers of the demonstrations paid citizens to participate in the protests.
Most of the pensioners interviewed at the beginning of the documentary emphasize the difficult economic situation in the country. Among them there are indeed those who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union and those who blame Zelenskyy for the war, although there are also negative attitudes towards Russia: for example, one of the sellers working in the market accused Russia of terrorism in a conversation with Lanz, and a mechanic whom a German journalist spoke to in Transnistria accused Russia of terrorism in Ukraine. He drew a parallel between the war and the 1992 conflict in Moldova and criticized Russia’s behavior in Ukraine. Among the respondents there are those who blamed both sides of the conflict.
Notably, Lanz had a longer conversation with Iulian Groza, currently a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS) and former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova, who was actively involved in the process of Moldova’s integration with the European Union. Groza notes that after the start of the war, a serious energy crisis arose in Moldova, and the country’s Western partners significantly helped the country to overcome this crisis. He also talks about the difficult political situation that exists in the country and emphasizes the importance of building strong and democratic institutions. Groza also notes that there are pro-European and pro-Russian groups in Moldova, and different interests are at stake.
Lanz also spoke with Moldovan investor Ceslav Ciuhrii. Chuhrii noted that Moldova is in a transition period and also plays the role of a certain corridor in the international arena, which is why it is significantly dependent on its partners. According to him, integration with the European Union will contribute to the development of the country.
Lantz also talked to Eleonora Cercavschi, a school teacher in the village of Doroțcaia. In Dorotskaya school, the educational process takes place in two sessions. Students from Transnistria attend classes in the second part. From Cercavschi’s conversation, it can be seen that Russian propaganda has a great influence on the curriculum in schools in the Transnistria region, and many historical events are taught in a distorted manner.
Lanz also spoke to students who attend school in the village of Doroțcaia from Transnistria. As they say, the main reason for going to this school is to get a better education that will give more opportunities in the future. One of the students mentioned that after studying in the schools of Transnistria, he will be able to continue his studies only in Russia, and he wants to go to the US. The attitude of the rest of the students is similar – the desire to get a better education and gain more opportunities.
Noteworthy that the respondents who were most critical of the Moldovan government and the West in the documentary are from the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, which is not mentioned in the description of the post disseminated on Facebook. The largest part of the inhabitants of Gagauzia are the Orthodox ethnic minority of Turkish origin, the Gagauz. In a conversation with Lanz, Groza notes that the Gagauzia region has been the target of Russian propaganda and influence for years, and therefore the region has the largest number of pro-Russian people. According to Groza, after the start of the war, separatist sentiments in Gagauzia amplified, and there is a problem of integrating this region with the rest of the society in Moldova. Oleg Garizan, the mayor of one of Gagauzia’s settlements, Copceac, in a conversation with a German journalist, notes that currently the EU countries are helping the region the most financially, Turkey is in the second place, and Russia is in the third place. However, when answering the question about the Russia-Ukraine war, Garizan noted that the population living in Gagauzia is mostly pro-Russian.
What are the attitudes of Moldova according to latest polls?
According to the last two sociological studies of the International Republican Institute (IRI), Moldovans perceive the relations with the European Union more positively than with Russia. According to the February-March 2021 survey, 80% of the population as a whole assessed Moldova’s relations with the EU positively (14% – very good, 66% – somewhat good), 51% assessed relations with Russia positively (5% very good, 46% – somewhat good).
According to the latest October-November 2022 survey, 82% evaluate relations with the European Union as positive (31% – very good, 51% – somewhat good). It should be noted that the population of Moldova denotes equal importance to the EU and Russia as economic partners. According to the last survey of 2022, 67-67% of the respondents named both the EU and Russia as important economic partners of Moldova. As for the importance of a political partner, 66% name the European Union, and 59% name Russia.
However, when it comes to joining the European Union, 63% of residents express the desire to join the Union. (36% strongly support joining the EU, and 27% somewhat support the process)
As for Moldova’s domestic politics, although the support of the country’s president Maia Sandu and her party has decreased compared to 2021, compared to other political leaders, Sandu still benefits with the most trust and her party the most support.
According to the surveys of February-March 2021 and October-November 2022, the first 5 parties are distributed as follows, by population support:
|Political Party “Action and Solidarity” – 33%||Political Party “Action and Solidarity” – 24%|
|Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova – 19%||Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova – 15%|
|Political Party “Our Party” – 6%||Political Party “Șor” – 10%|
|Political Party “Șor” – 5%||Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova – 5%|
|Political Party “Dignity and Truth”– 5%||Political party “National Alternative Movement (MAN)”– 3%|
In 2021, 41% of the population considered Sandu as the most reliable politician, in 2022 this number decreased to 26%, although she still remains in the first place in terms of reliability. In 2021 and 2022, former President of Moldova, Igor Dodon, is in second place, in both years he was considered the most trusted politician by 19% of the population.
As for the Russia-Ukraine war, according to a survey published in April 2023 by the local non-governmental organization WatchDog.MD, 43.3% believe that the current situation in Ukraine is an unjustified invasion of Russia, 22% believe that Russia is protecting the population of Donbas from an attack by Ukraine, 11.4% believe that that the operation to liberate the country from the Nazis is underway in Ukraine, 1.9% believe that Russia is fighting NATO/protecting its own interests. The majority of the population blames Putin and the Russian Federation for provoking the war. The answers to the question of who is most responsible for provoking the war in Ukraine were divided as follows:
- Putin – 22.4%
- Russian Federation – 22.0%
- The US – 18.1%
- Ukrainian Government – 14.2%
- NATO – 7.6%
- Both countries – 2.3%
- The EU – 1.6%
About the Source:
War-related disinformation amplified by the Facebook user Дженни Бурджанадзе-ს and its alternative account “Jeni Burjanadze” has been debunked by Myth Detector a number of times in the past. For more, see:
- Disinformation as if Hackers Leaked a Private Photo of Olena Zelenska
- The Shot Presented as a War Crime Committed by the Ukrainian Soldiers is actually from a Pornographic Video
- Were Russian Language Teachers Arrested in Kharkiv?
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