The Role of the Mass Media in the Run-Up for the 1989-1992 Military Conflict in Transdniestria, Information Blockade and the Manipulation of Public Opinion


1. At the beginning was the word

The political, social and ethnic dissatisfaction, which had been spoken out only in the kitchen ar the household level, is splashed out in the mass media. The Gorbachev’s glasnost abo-lishes all the earlier forbidden topics and for this reason the news-papers, the radio and the TV acquire an extremely weighty status. At the end of the 80’s the society begins to be divided on the basis of the ethno-political principle owing to the media to great extent. The Russians read only Russian periodicals, which put forward such tasks as the preservation of the USSR, the hostility of the idea of the republic’s sovereignty, the boycotting of the Moldovan language as a pretender to the status of the official language. The national radical ideas were permeating many Moldovan periodicals. If the Russian newspapers were defending everything, which was connected with the Soviet era, the national periodicals were opposing the established order by all means. The: release from the tutorship of “the elder brother” was the’ main subject of their diatribes. They shouted to the Russians:

“Suitcase, Railway Station, Russia”. The verbal hostilities between the Russian and the Moldovan periodicals were gradually transforming into a wicked quarrel and paving the way for a mili-tary conflict.

2. Impotence of power

The absolute impotence of the authorities served as an. ori-ginal catalyst, making for the slide of the society towards con-frontation. The nihilism of the Law on the part of the citizens reached the top. To ignore the Law and the authorities became a behavioral norm. It was most clearly revealed in settlements and cities, inhabited by various ethnic groups. Chisinau was boycotting Moscow’s decisions,” Tiraspol and Comrat were opposing any de-cision by Chisinau: Down with the Moldovan as the Official Language; No to Latin Alphabet; Down with Tricolor and so on. Even the most moderate newspapers puffed up the confrontation between the radicals and the authorities, as well as the confron-tation between ethnic groups. In the most critical moment the were recurring to the mass media as to the supreme institute of de-mocracy, thus flaring up the public opinion to its extremity.

3. Extremities complement one another

The radically minded people in the person of the nationalists come to power, boosted by the wave of this confrontation. The forces of the Interfront consolidate to oppose them. These extremist political forces skillfully complement each other by providing repeatedly a cause for reciprocal hostility. The Chisinau authorities pave the way for the separatism. The leaders of the separatists skillfully use the situation by provoking the authorities for com-mitting imprudent steps. Tiraspol, which leaders still defend their interests in the Moldovan Parliament, becomes the center of oppo-sition against Chisinau. The nationalistic press criticizes them with acrimony. The parliamentarians are beaten by the entrance to the Moldovan Parlament. These actions provoke retaliatory actions in Tiraspol and Comrat. Protest meetings are staged, the born Mol-dovans are beaten and humiliated at their working places, the institutes of the Chisinau authority are ousted everywhere on these tho territories. The mass media whip up passions to the puffing up these sad events by interpreting them in their own exaggerated way. The contending newspapers quote each other and accuse each other of calumny. The new periodicals, ready to wage the war to the final end, appear. These are “Trudovoy Tiraspol” on the one hand and “Desteptatea” on the other hand. Hysteria acquires unprecedented scope on the pages of these newspapers, the fact that in the midst of these verbal: hostilities the editor of “Trudovoy Tiraspol” is taken to, a; mental hospital. The Gagauz-Eri, followed by the TMR are proclaimed as centers of separatism. Few days remain! Before recurring to arms. The first shots were made on November 2, 1990, The military conflicted was unchained on March 2, 1992.

4. Moscow Game

The historians consider such excesses to be usual when the empire is fragmented. The interest of the former center is; clearly seen in the inspiring, effecting and supporting the similar processes. As far back as in 1989 the Kremlin warned the Moldovan politicans that the independence of the republic will result in several tiny republics in each uyezd. It was proved that the 14th Russian Army was an important supporting factor for the separatists. The Moscow press played a particular role in flaring up this conflict. The tactics of selective informing, manipulating the public opinion, distortion of feality, silencing events important for Moldova – all these methods of the Russian mass media played its role. Moldova was presented to the world in the most unattractive image. Moldova was defeated in the information war by the Russian mass media before the beginning of the military actions. In retaliation to Moscow di-atribes arid instigated by the local super-patriotic press the poli-ticians thrown themselves into this fratricidal war.