21 October 2020

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises


20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated

Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

"Soft Power" Against "Rough Power" or Work One Enjoys Never Feels Too Hard

The attempt to present the election campaign in Moldova as a "war between the East and the West", undertaken lately at the instigation of the private American global intelligence agency Stratfor, is wrong at least for one simple reason - that only one side is fighting, imitating the so-called "soft power".
Irina Severin, 25 October 2010, 15:56

To understand what really is taking place, it is important to clarify the terms: what is meant by the term "soft power" in the West and what it means  in the East.

The War into One Gate

The term "soft power" was coined in 90's and is initially defined as "a power of a positive example". Such a "soft power" in respect to Moldova is possessed by the European Union, which not only does not force Moldova to cooperate or become closer, but on the contrary, lays down lots of difficult to execute conditions, thereby restricting the possibility of the two becoming closer more rapidly. The EU's policy is simple - the more you resemble us, the faster we will become closer - neither sooner, nor later. It is not surprising that as soon as the forces identifying themselves as havingthe European approach to development came to power, Europe has been demonstrating an openness towards Chisinau that had not even been dreamt of before.

Recently Russia has also been trying to use the principle of the "soft power", interpreting it through  copying the  outer manifestations of  Western "soft power". Russia has started funding non-governmental organizations and mass media outlets; however only those that are ready to advance Russian interests, which often come into conflict with interests of the populations of these countries.  For example, Russia has been promoting the idea of the Eastern vector in Moldova's development, while the overwhelming majority of the country's population supports the idea of European integration. Russia's problem lies in the fact that it is not capable of offering a universal idea which would be attractive for other countries. The communist ideology was such an "export idea" for Russia in the 20th century. Nowadays it takes exclusively marginal positions in the world. The West is naturally attractive for Moldova owing to its practical realization of the idea of democracy, which is, if nothing else, the most efficient model of social order. Its implementation is beneficial, first of all, for the countries which try to adopt it, and that is why it makes no sense to impose it.

No Matter What You Assemble - You Get the Kalashnikov Gun

Meanwhile, Russia is inclined to consider democracy as an exclusively hostile ideology implanted by the West to strengthen its influence in the region. The peculiarities of this perception leave their imprint on real actions. As a result of its viewpoint, Russia is indeed fighting with the West for the influence in this region, while it is enough for the European Union just to stay a positive example, attractive for Moldova thanks to its pragmatism and to the fact of its existence itself. Unfortunately, in this virtual duel Russia so far has nothing to oppose (or to offer Moldova) - it cannot boast of either an efficient management system, or a high standard of living, or protection of its population's rights. In its fight against democracy and political correctness, Russia is forced to support anti-democratic regimes, and to stimulate their establishment, considering them as natural partners in the war against the West.

As a result, Russia's attemptsto oppose the natural attractiveness of the West, and the pursuit of democracy in Moldova and other countries, as a "soft power" brings to mind the old Soviet anecdote - "no matter what you assemble, you get the Kalashnikov gun". The "soft power" in the Russian political science  usage is a synonym for "information warfare". The information warfare concept is simple - a set of measures thanks to which the population of the "country of destination" starts acting against its own interests, sacrificially defending Russia's interests. The media and political campaigns aimed against political leaders, forces and ideas disliked by Moscow have become a norm in Moldova. However, they are initially doomed to failure as only hopeless political forces and politicians (or they become such as they participate in joint projects) undertake their realization.

The outcome is that  Russia's attempts to apply the "soft power" inevitably become replaced by"rough power", the concept of which stipulates the use of economic power against other countries along with direct force. Nobody in Moldova is surprised by the recurrent introduction of unannounced commercial embargoes. While the responsibility for introduction of embargoes is elegantly shifted onto the Chief Sanitary Inspector of Russia, Onischenko, when it comes to political and media campaigns Moscow prefers acting indirectly, using political and geopolitical players who enjoy the trust of the audience, to whom the political message is addressed. Particularly, "Ostankino" cannot influence the pro-Romanian audience.

False Flag Operations

There is nothing new here - the political technology is called the "false flag operations". It is not a secret that Russia has kept serious influence in Romania since socialist times. The economic crisis has also contributed considerably to the strengthening of this influence. Russia prefers to use the bearers of its influence discreetly by  directing their actions to the needed channel, rather than parading its influence. 

In this context, the revelation by the private intelligence agency Stratfor which reported recently that  Romania had received an "order" from the West to finance non-governmental and media organizations in Moldova, and to establish investment funds in the context of the war between Russia and the West, should hardly be taken seriously. The real "soft power" does not resort to irrational or shadowy actions. However, this message is interesting in how persistently it has been promoted lately. Somebody must have been trying either to distance themselves from some projects already underway or to dissociate themselves beforehand from scenarios which we can so far only guess.

The positioning of Moldova, by the Russian political establishment, as the "second Kyrghizia" causes concern especially in the context of the experiences of 7th of April (in Moldova - in 2009 and in Kyrghizia - in 2010).

As for the Stratfor agency, only Russia totally trusts its reports - the Agency traditionally presents interpretations of international developments in a way which is advantageous for Russia, although the form is adapted to the West's perception. It is not surprising that Stratfor is considered by many as rather a lobbying organization called upon to throw wanted ideas into the informational field, and, what is especially important, from an American perspective.

The opposition between the West and the East itself in Moldova is a dilemma which has been artificially imposed from outside. There is no serious political force in Moldova that would not  declare integration into the EU as its goal, since it is a safe subject for the election campaign.

Romania as a state has been acting openly, as Europe has in this context. Despite the heavy economic crisis, Bucharest has provided considerable assistance to Moldova. Romania has already provided 7 million dollars to Moldova out of 100 million euros promised to Moldova earlier this year to help those who suffered from the floods. Meanwhile, Russia's promise to provide 500 million dollars to Moldova given after the events of 7th of April 2009 has remained unfulfilled.

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