Monitoring Russian TVs in Moldova: Manipulation, Propaganda and Disinformation


Russian televisions retransmitted in Moldova promote manipulation and propaganda, and deliver pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, anti-European and anti-Occidental messages, conclude two new monitoring reports.

The monitoring aimed to analyze possible manipulation and propaganda messages disseminated by the most important TV channels from Russia, retransmitted in the Republic of Moldova – Pervyi Kanal, RTR, NTV, REN TV, and STS – with reference to the most important topics of the day at the regional and international level.

The monitoring was conducted by the Association of Independent Press (AIP) in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), a SEENPM member.

The first monitoring was conducted between March 27 and April 26, 2017. According to Petru Macovei, executive director of the AIP, and Nadine Gogu, executive director of the IJC, who coordinated the monitoring process and worked on the report, several evident manipulation and propaganda techniques have been found, including:

  • biased presentation of events,
  • exacerbation of facts,
  • unilateral coverage based on a single source,
  • selective presentation of information,
  • manipulation of images etc.

For example, Perviy Kanal most frequently sent messages such as: “Ukraine is weak, it breaks down and lies”; “Ukraine is seized by chaos”; “God is on Russia’s side”; “Russia should be more aggressive with Ukraine”; “Europe is getting weaker.”

As for the behavior of hosts of shows on Perviy Kanal and REN TV, Petru Macovei mentioned that they express their views and take the liberty of interrupting experts in the studio: “Pro-Ukrainian guests are verbally assaulted without hosts intervening to stop it”. The same situation has been found at the other three channels.

The second report covered the period of April 11-26. Experts found that the five channels continued presenting unilateral, propagandistic and manipulative information.

They identified several methods of manipulation, including:

  • selective and unbalanced presentation of facts;
  • interpretation of source statements or selective quoting of sources;
  • labeling;
  • presentation of opinions (including those of reporters) as facts;
  • presentation of information from one source etc.

For example: Pervyi Kanal delivered in its news such messages as: “US actions in Syria violate international law and damage the fight against terrorism”; “Ukrainian law enforcement is not professional and cannot guarantee safety for the people”; “Russia is a savior for Syria”.

Referring to talk-shows, Nadine Gogu noted that they lacked analytical elements and that pluralism of opinions is mostly simulated by inviting experts that support only one point of view. The situation is similar at the other monitored TV channels.

According to Petru Macovei, with the exception of STS, the most of the monitored televisions can be described as “battlefield status reports”. They use military narrative and terminology, stories about the army, army readiness, war are widespread.

“The newscasts and editorial policies of Russian TV are aimed at psychological preparation of the population for a military disaster”, the expert said.

At the presentation of the reports, attended by a range of stakeholders, Maria Ciobanu, member of the Parliamentary Commission for the Media, noted that this topic is very relevant and suggested that the final report should be discussed within the parliamentary commission she represents, so as to analyze and find solutions to fight these phenomena.

At the same time, according to the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC) member, Artur Cozma, the regulatory body cannot intervene in such cases, since “the notion of propaganda is absent from the national legislation”.

The final report, as well as recommendations, will be sent for examination to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, BCC, the Information and Security Service and to other authorities responsible for the media and security.

The monitoring reports are available in local language: Report 1 & Report 2

The article is a contribution by the Independent Journalism Center in Chisinau, a SEENPM member.