Seminar in Balti. Disinformation in the media
On September 14, the Moldovan section of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) held another training seminar in Balti as a part of the project “Mass Media, Opinion Formation, Human Rights”
The seminar was attended by journalists, teachers of local schools and universities, local municipal councilors, civic activists.
It should be noted that the seminar took place a month before the elections to local government authorities.
The main struggle unfolded between the two pro-Russian parties – the Party of Socialists led by the current President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon and “Nasha Partiya” led by the businessman Renato Usatii.
In order to understand the existing situation in the city, one needs to take into account the historical background.
The city of Balti is located in the northern part of Moldova and is the second most populated city in Moldova. Currently, most industrial enterprises in the city are out of work and the number of empty jobs is catastrophically small. People are forced to leave or sell their personal things in order to survive.
According to the census survey in 1930, when Bessarabia was part of Romania, there were 35 thousand people in Balti, among them 20 thousand of Jews, 10 thousand of Moldovans, and 5 thousand of Russians and Ukrainians. The situation changed within the period from 1941 to 1943, when most of the Jews were destroyed or deported by the Romanian authorities.
During the Soviet period, industrial enterprises were actively built in Balti. Experts from all over the Soviet Union were involved for their construction.
In the early 1990s, many Jews voluntarily left Moldova for Israel.
Today Balti is a Russian-speaking city and this should be taken into account when preparing different events.
Here are the data of census survey taken in year 2014:
50.8% of the population of Balti qualified Russian as the language they usually speak. The Moldovan language in this column was indicated by 31.2% of population, Romanian – by 16.6%, Ukrainian – by 1.1%, Gypsy – by 0.1%.
These data are significantly different from the data for the country as a whole. Thus in Moldova only 14.5% of the population reported that they usually use the Russian language. 54.6% noted that they speak Moldavian, 24% – Romanian, 2.7% – Ukrainian and Gagauz each.
Among the places where there is a large number of speakers of Russian, one can mention Gagauzia (41.3%), Taraclia region (39.5%), Bessarabia region (34%), Chisinau municipality (25.6%).
The census survey taken in year 2014 also revealed data on the ethnicity of residents.
60.6% of residents of Balti city called themselves Moldavians, 18.5% – Ukrainians, 16% – Russians, 2.9% – Romanians, 0.2% – Bulgarians and Roma each, 0.1% – Gagauzians. 1.5% of the population called themselves representatives of other nationalities.
And now Balti remains a pro-Russian city. This is evidenced by the results of elections to local government authorities in 2015, when the pro-Russian businessman Renato Usatii won the post of mayor of the city with a result of 74%.
The majority of votes in the Balti municipality also received the pro-Russian party “Nasha Partiya” led by R. Usatii.
The central authorities of the Republic of Moldova negatively perceived this situation. And during all subsequent years, the municipal councilors of Balti and of those regional centers where “Nasha Partiya” won were subjected to pressure and discredit.
In April 2017, the delegation of “Nasha Partiya” informed the Council of Europe of crimes against local councilors on the part of the regime led by the chairman of the Democratic Party of the Republic of Moldova V. Plahotniuc.
It came to the point that in January 2018, local councilors of the Balti Municipality on behalf of the “Nasha Partiya” launched a hunger strike in connection with the persecution of police, prosecutors and the National Anti-Corruption Center, which were fabricating criminal cases without having legal grounds.
Obviously, all the events taking place in the country and particular in Balti were accompanied by an appropriate propagandist company that distorted the facts about what was really happening in Balti.
And all the more useful was the holding of our seminar in this city.
Picture No. 4. A poster in Balti. Advertising of an independent news portal.
The referent N. Smurgun in her report demonstrated examples and methods of disinformation, which are often resorted to by the Moldovan mass media.
This happens especially often in the pre-election period, when it is important to deride the opponent, and when the situation changes very quickly and at the same time the person no longer has time to react quickly, exposing another fake.
So in 2016, before the next presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova, information was thrown in the mass media that Maia Sandu, a presidential candidate from pro-European forces, was ready to accept in Moldova a large number of refugees from Syria.
It is no secret that the majority of the population in Moldova reacted negatively to such an idea. Since Moldova is a Christian country, a fake proposal to let in a large number of Muslim citizens was likely to influence the decision of the electorate. As a result of the elections, Maia Sandu lost the elections with a 4% difference to the current pro-Russian president Igor Dodon.
Another example of the manipulation of public opinion not only within Moldova, but also at the international level was demonstrated by the referent.
Silvia Radu, the Minister of Health of the Republic of Moldova, declared in May 2019 from the tribune of the World Health Assembly, that life expectancy in Moldova has increased since 2016 by two years and the merit belongs to the reforms carried out by the government in the field of health. Now, said the Minister (now ex-Minister), every Moldovan citizen “has full access to medical services”.
Furthermore, according to statistics the average male life expectancy in Moldova was 66.3 years. Thus, averagely men after retirement live only about three years. May we remind you that from July 1, 2019, the retirement age for men is set at 63 years, with a working experience of 34 years. At the same time, the male life expectancy is reduced – in 2018 men lived 0.4 years less compared to the previous year.
The referent emphasized in her report that the ability to determine fake news is one of the necessary qualities of a modern person, and the role of civil society in promoting this knowledge is essential. Disinformation spreads over the network almost instantly. Education in this area should not be stopped even for an instance, since the effect of using fake, especially in the political struggle, is huge and the temptation to use distorted facts will always exist. And our task is to inform civil society about the ways and methods of combating disinformation and to minimize the effect of using dishonest methods in the media space.
After the presentation of the report a heated discussion took place, in which journalists, teachers and civil activists of Balti city took part.