Pro-Russian voices legitimised in the context of Romanian-Ukrainian tensions on minorities in Bukovina

Case study: Perceptions and context for the self-victimising declarations of a pro-Kremlin Romanian cleric from Ukraine

February 1, 2023

In Romania, the attitude towards the Romanian minority in Ukraine has been historically a vulnerability to pro-Kremlin propaganda. Nationalist and pro-Kremlin voices argue that Ukraine is systematically hostile towards the Romanian minority, continuing the policies of Soviet times. In that, they exaggerate the real issues that do exist in Ukraine, as well as positions taken by Romanian diplomacy in its efforts to promote the rights of the Romanian diaspora. The result is an overlap between mainstream and radical positions, which is exploited by radical voices to gain legitimacy.

Monitoring report on the perceptions among the Romanian far-right of the Ukrainian law on minorities. Case study

9 January 2023

On December 13th the Ukraine Rada adopted a new law on ethnic minorities aimed ostensibly at counteracting Russian influence but also allegedly affecting other minorities including Romanians, Moldovans, Hungarians and Poles. The law was poorly received both by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs[1] and by the public opinion. Romanian critics have complained that the law is discriminatory, disloyal to the Romanian state (due to the latter’s involvement in helping Ukraine) and running counter to the recommendations of the European Commission. The Romanian MFA also complained specifically that Ukraine did not consult either the Venice Commission or the Romanian state[2]. Other voices counteracted saying that the law was an effect of the war and Romanian critics should refrain for the time being[3]. Hungary had similar complaints[4].

Monitoring report on the evolution of the main pro-Kremlin voices on Facebook. Early warning

9 January 2023

This report will be looking at recent evolutions in the share of voice of the main pro-Russian actors on Facebook. It is important to note that the main voices who promote toxic narratives about the war in Ukraine are, by and large, the same voices who promote far-right narratives and the same people who have promoted anti-vaccination narratives. All these narratives generally align with the Russian interests in Romania. The purpose of Russian information operations is not necessarily to sway the Romanian population to regard the Kremlin’s actions favourably, but rather to sow discord within Romanian society and between Romania and its allies. As such, it is relevant to also look at their relative influence more broadly, as we do in this report.

Disinformation in a regional context during the war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has allowed some nationalist groups and even regional governments to reopen discussions on territorial revisionism and tensions with neighbours, but also to use the energy crisis that the war has created in Europe to criticise the West and attempt to demobilise popular support for Ukraine.

Click to download

Evolution of disinformation and information manipulation in Romania, in the context of the war in Ukraine

Russia’s war against Ukraine has opened a brand-new front for disinformation and propaganda. ‘Byproducts’ of war, such as economic shortages and the energy crisis are all exploited to deepen the anti-Western sentiment manifested by part of the Romanian population, and to widen the internal divisions in Romanian society. The influx of refugees fleeing the war (and some of the decisions the government in Kyiv took regarding ethnic minorities) is exploited by pro-Russian propaganda in addressing ultra-nationalist/anti-Ukrainian sentiments entertained by part of the Romanian population.

Click to download

Is Romania ready to combat disinformation and communicate effectively?

GlobalFocus Center has undertaken a series of interviews with relevant experts, including representatives of state institutions, politicians and independent experts in order to determine the state of government and civil society preparedness to identify and counter information manipulation and malign influence, gaps in preparedness and􀀃knowledge, and based on that, to recommend courses of action. Based on these interviews and further research we have reached the conclusions outlined below.

Click to download