Disinfo: According to the West, Russian language is a threat to open and transparent elections in Moldova

Summary

In order to prepare a draft amendment to the Electoral Code of the Republic of Moldova, the United States and the United Kingdom have allocated a special grant aimed at “enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”. It turns out that according to the presented project, the Russian language is the biggest threat to “open and transparent” elections in Moldova. Therefore, it was proposed to cancel the ballots in Russian and leave them only in the state language.

Disproof

This claim is in line with a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative alleging that Russophobia and anti-Russian attitudes are rampant in countries of the former Soviet Union; especially in cases where those countries receive Western support. Pro-Kremlin media often portray former Soviet countries as "Russophobic" for taking steps to protect and prioritise their national languages, which were suppressed for decades through the linguistic imperialism strategy of Russification during the Soviet period. Ukraine is a particularly common target of these narratives, among other countries.

The Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova proposed a draft amendment to the Electoral Code in order to improve electoral practices. The drafting of the amendments was funded by USAID through the project ”Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”, implemented in 2017-2020 by UNDP Moldova. The draft contains 15 amendments, one of which concerns the proposal to print ballots only in Romanian, Moldova's state language, and not in Russian in elections where the ballots just contain the name of the candidate. "Standardisation of the text in the state language would significantly optimise the resources, including human resources, needed to accomplish this [electoral] process,” says the explicative note of the project. Ballots in Russian would continue to be printed in cases of a referendum, where voters have to read and respond to a question. The project is exposed to public debate.

Moldova's state language is Romanian. Since the 1990s, Moldovan law has required all public officials to speak Romanian, including members of the police, the army, and the judiciary. In a 2014 census, four-fifths of Moldova’s 3 million inhabitants said that they considered Romanian to be their native language. The remainder of the country speaks primarily Russian, prevalent primarily in the ethnic-Russian north or the semi-autonomous republic of Gagauzia.

See similar cases here, here, and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 197
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 13/05/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Moldova
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Russian language, Russophobia, Elections
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