From February 21-25, 2022, the Independent Journalism Center monitored and analyzed the informative, analytical and/or military audio-visual programs broadcast from the Russian Federation by national audio-visual media service providers. These are the following television stations Primul în Moldova / Первый канал (First Channel), NTV Moldova / HTB (NTV) and RTR Moldova / Россия – РТР. All three nominated TV stations have significant audience figures. Moreover, two of them (Primul în Moldova / Первый канал and NTV Moldova / HTB) are found in Multiplex A with national coverage, which, according to official data, would cover more than 98% of the population.
Through this monitoring, we aimed to identify and describe the trends and propaganda elements distributed by the Russian media with access to the information space of the Republic of Moldova. The monitoring period coincided with the start of the war in Ukraine, which was attacked by the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the morning of February 24, 2022.
On the evening of February 21, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, had a speech broadcast by two of the monitored TV stations: Primul în Moldova and NTV Moldova. Putin’s speech abounds with negative labeling and hate speech against Ukraine.
Subsequently, on the day of the outbreak of the war, during which several local TV stations intervened with special editions, to inform every hour about the armed conflict on the border with the Republic of Moldova, the three monitored TV stations chose to broadcast movies or other types of programs, ignoring the subject of war. Without prior notice to the audio-visual regulatory authority, the monitored TV stations have given up broadcasting news, analytical, political and military programs from the Russian Federation. On the first day of the war, they announced only in the evening news about the “Russian special military operation in Ukraine,” as the Russian Federation called it, followed by silence over events in Ukraine.
Pursuing the way in which the three stations in the Russian Federation approach the subject of the armed attack on Ukraine, we conclude that the media institutions in the Republic of Moldova, which take over their products, have aligned themselves with this strategy.
The IJC’s monitoring has shown the widespread use of various techniques of propaganda and manipulation of public opinion, including:
➢ repetitive approach to the same topics;
➢ image transfer: negative for Ukraine, USA, EU and international structures and positive for the Russian Federation;
➢ labeling: positive for the Russian Federation and negative for Ukraine;
➢ use of the image of the enemy, relevant especially for the USA, EU and NATO;
➢ use of speech with elements of incitement to hatred;
➢ use of elements of dramatization, intrigue and threat;
➢ attributing, obviously, a positive and pacifying model to the Russian Federation.
In conclusion: the informative programs and those of military and political nature rebroadcast from the Russian Federation abound in propaganda elements, do not correspond to the legal provisions of the national legislation and represent a risk for the information space of the Republic of Moldova.
Olga Gututui, media law and policy expert