The same power centres that control the media in Macedonia also have a monopoly over information in countries like Moldova
Those familiar with the situation in Macedonia realized long ago that much of the media here are controlled by foreign structures, primarily the US government, and groups such as the George Soros network. This is done with the purpose of advancing US foreign policy interests in Macedonia. Media created or richly funded through USAID projects, the US Embassy in Skopje, various EU-funded programs, and even countries such as Qatar with its Al Jazeera network, are acting in unison and promoting policies whose goal is to rename Macedonia, redefine the meaning of the word “Macedonian” and end any thought of Macedonia acting as an independent, sovereign entity in the region.
But similar events are developing in other countries as well. The sources of funding, the issues that are pushed, the interference in domestic affairs.... the same thing is happening in many countries, especially in smaller countries that find themselves in fault lines between major powers, and all have strikingly similar experiences to those of Macedonia. One of them is Moldova, which can be seen through a report published by journalist Sam Ursu. Ursu detailed the leading media outlets in Moldova that influence the shaping of public opinion in this small country, but from the perspective of a Macedonian reader, the article is eerily similar, and could easily be published in Macedonia.
Ursu begins by noting that, while you would expect Romania and Russia to have active propaganda campaigns aimed at Moldova, that is not exactly the case.
- Considering the fact that Romania and Moldova share a common official language, you’d think that there’d be a lot of crossover in terms of media. In practice, however, that’s simply not the case. TVR or Romanian public television does broadcast in Moldova, but the vast majority of the content is identical to what Romanians see and doesn’t, therefore, really ever cover Moldova. Likewise, Romanian government radio also re-broadcasts in some cities in Moldova. There are no Romanian newspapers printed in Moldova with the exception of Adevarul, which runs a special supplement about Moldova that is sometimes sold in Moldova. However, it’s really difficult to find and not sold at most news outlets. Pro TV, which was formerly owned by an American media group but now is owned by a Chinese conglomerate, also broadcasts in Moldova. It does not, however, have a separate news desk for Moldova and so, therefore, focuses nearly exclusively on Romania. Other than that, Romania’s influence on the media landscape is minimal, Ursu writes.
Similarly, with Russia, "Considering that the vast majority of people in Moldova speak Russian and get their news from Russian-language sources, you might think that the Russian government is heavily involved in producing news in Moldova. However, this doesn’t seem to be true. There is a website (Sputnik) that produces news in both Russian and Romanian about Moldova that is owned by the Russian government, but that’s about it. Furthermore, all television news broadcasts from Russia are banned by law in Moldova. As far as I can tell, all of the other Russian-language media is entirely domestic in nature and therefore completely unrelated to the Russian government. The Moldovan government, for instance, publishes a Russian-language newspaper (Nezavisimaya Moldova), but it isn’t financed or controlled in any way by Russia".
So who controls the media in Moldova then? According to Ursu, all the replies to this question lead to one place – the US Government and affiliated groups such as the Soros foundation.
- If you come across a story in English about Moldova on the internet, there’s a good chance that it’s from Balkan Insight (BI). BI doesn’t exclusively focus on Moldova. In fact, its Moldova coverage is just a very small fraction of is total reporting. But when it does write about Moldova, it gets a (relatively) lot of play on social media. And they tend to write ridiculous pieces that aren’t even factually true and thus easily disprovable. BI is published by BIRN which is financed by a consortium of governments and NGOs, including the German Marshall Fund, the British government, the EU, and the Dutch government. BIRN also receives substantial financial support from the United States both directly and indirectly (such as the fact that the US gov’t is the primary funder of the German Marshall Fund)
- Moldova.org – The other big player in creating and promulgating English-language news about Moldova is the Moldova.org NGO. They have a very active presence on social media. Officially, Moldova.org is entirely independent, but it is based in Washington, D.C. and operates from of the United States. Their homepage clearly states that they’re financed by both the American Embassy in Chisinau and the National Endowment for Democracy. When I pointed this out, he blocked me on Twitter :) Moldova.org consistently runs very strongly pro-American articles and essays.
- Promo-LEX – Operating primarily in the Romanian language but also with some important English-language material, Promo-LEX is an organization based in Moldova. They regularly do legal analyses of current issues and have a number of lawyers on staff, and their white papers are often cited by foreign governments and international agencies. Their official motto is “Advancing democracy and human rights.” They, too, claim to be completely independent but they are financed by a whole slew of western governments and organizations, including the Soros Foundation, Swedish government, German Marshall Fund, the British government, the EU, and, of course, the United States via several different agencies and organizations.
- IJC – Known in English as the “Center for Independent Journalism” or in Romanian as the “Centru pentru Jurnalism Independent”, the IJC is based in Moldova and describes itself as a defender of…. well, you guessed it, independent journalism. They claim to be independent, but they are funded by a host of western governments and organizations, including the Soros Foundation, Swedish government, German Marshall Fund, the British government, the EU, and, of course, the United States via several different agencies and organizations.
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – Although RFE/RL’s coverage in Romania ended in 2008, RFE/RL has continued to broadcast in Moldova right up to the present day.
RFE/RL is entirely funded by the United States government. RFE/RL also publishes a (digital only) newspaper called Europa Libera in the Romanian language.
- OCCRP – The “Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project” (OCCRP) does not focus exclusively on Moldova but on activities all across the world. The OCCRP is funded entirely by the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Program, the Soros Foundation, and the United States government. The OCCRP also regularly trains journalists from across Europe, including Moldova, on how to do their jobs and “expand their professional network.” The OCCRP also works with Bellingcat, the hysterically anti-Russian disinformation outlet.
- GIJN – The Global Investigative Journalism Network is just what it says, a network of different media outlets. They cover news from the entire world in eight different languages. Founded and run out of the United States, the GIJN is funded by the Soros Foundation, Google, the Omidyar Network, and several US-based thinktanks.
- Southeastern European Times ceased operations in 2015, but it’s important to remember that the American military financed a newspaper for many years that covered Eastern Europe, including Moldova.
- LCRM – It’s not often that you read something from the LCRM or the “Legal resources centre from Moldova”, but they do sometimes provide legal analysis in both Romanian and English of issues in the news in Moldova. Founded and run from Moldova, LCRM is financed by the Soros Foundation, the Dutch government, the EU, the government of Sweden, and, of course, the United States government.
- Moldova/Media Azi – Publishing in Romanian primarily but also Russian and English, Media Azi (“Media Today” in English) is based in Moldova and advertises itself as an NGO that focuses on “journalistic integrity.” Moldova Azi is financed by the United States government, the Dutch government, and the government of Sweden.
- StopFals – This is a website which is supposed to combat “fake news” in the Moldovan media. StopFals (which means “stop fake news” in Romanian) publishes articles from contributors, including from the CJI (Center for Independent Journalism). StopFals publishes in both Russian and Romanian. StopFals heavily advertises around Moldova on billboards and via other media. StopFals is financed by FHI 360 and the United States government.
- ICFJ – Yet another one of those “international networks” of independent journalists, the ICFJ or “International Center for Journalists” rarely write anything about Moldova. They do, however, work with the OCCRP, administering a US government grant of 6.3 million dollars. The ICFJ is based in Washington, D.C. Finding who funds the ICFJ isn’t easy, but it looks to be mostly Google and big American media companies like Fox News and CNN. They also receive money from the United States government, including USAID and the NED.
- IRI and NDI, the two international organizations of the main US political parties, are founded by the US Government and set up as a non-profit organizations. The IRI is specifically concerned about fighting “Russian soft power and propaganda.” The IRI rarely writes about Moldova, but they do occasionally conduct surveys and do other research in Moldova when paid to do so by the NED (American government).
- Transparency International Moldova – The local chapter of an international organization, Transparency doesn’t write “news” articles, but it does publish reports that are widely cited by news outlets. Transparency is financed by the governments of Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, the EU, Germany, and the United States, including the NED.
The list put together by Sam Ursu goes on. The American journalist estimates that USAID has spent 17.4 million USD in Moldova only in 2018, and that other US funded agencies have spent additional nine million USD, with much of the money going toward shaping Moldovan public opinion. Other sources of funding that also push pro-American propaganda in Moldova include the Atlantic Council, the Jamestown foundation, the Carnegie foundation, while similar positions are also pushed by the European Endowment for Democracy. And then there is George Soros.
- The Soros Foundation has been caught red-handed breaking the law in trying to seize control of the government of Moldova. Remember how they did it? By funnelling slush money through think tanks. Nonetheless, the Soros Foundation continues to operate in Moldova and often coordinates with the US government and the EU. The Soros Foundation is also heavily involved in promoting “independent” journalism in Moldova, Ursu writes, reminding the public of the 2014 incident when Soros was predicting a Russian invasion of Transnistria. "It's easy to laugh now, but at the time, his prediction was taken quite seriously".
Ultimately, these outlets keep pushing the same position, year after year, Ursu writes, and it all adds up, building toward the state of Moldovan public opinion.
- You may not have heard of all of the media outlets that were listed here today, but that doesn’t mean they’re not very busy. Week after week, month after month, year after year, it’s exactly the same. The bulk of everything you have ever heard or seen about Moldova in the news is more or less paid propaganda. It might be well-written (although it often isn’t), it may be based on facts, and it may be persuasive, but it sure as hell isn’t independent, Ursu concludes.