A fierce discussion broke out recently in a post office in Mândra, a village in central Moldova. The impromptu debate centered on the question of whether Russia deserves blame for the ongoing war in neighboring Ukraine.
As a news program aired on the Kremlin-funded TV station Perviy Kanal in an adjoining room, most of those involved in the discussion decided that Moscow should be cast as the conflict’s altruistic hero. After all, they explained, television news reports say so.
For other Moldovans, especially residents in the capital Chișinău, such sentiment can be cause for concern. Given that Moldova is dealing with its own standoff with pro-Moscow separatists, who control the breakaway region of Transnistria, some worry that Russia’s conflict with Ukraine could possibly embroil their own country.
Reports from Russian TV stations depicting Moscow and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as valiant crusaders for justice have “become a real issue of national security now, more than ever,” said Dionis Cenusa, a political analyst at the Expert Group, an independent think tank in Chișinău. “Not only in one specific village, but across the country.”
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Victoria Puiu is a journalist who writes for the weekly newspaper Timpul (Times) in Chișinău, Moldova.