Moldavia – A land overshadowed of War

A film by Irene Langemann
45 min., 2004, ARD Mediathek

Since 24. Since February 24, 2022, the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the people of the Republic of Moldova have been afraid that their country could be next on Putin’s list. President Maia Sandu addressed the threat on the second day of the war in a television broadcast: “We have military activities close to the borders of Moldova. This is a dramatic situation for our neighboring country. For us, it is extremely threatening.”
The concern is justified. Since 1992, Moscow has controlled the breakaway region of Transnistria and stationed troops there. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Russian politicians and propagandists have been sending veiled threats toward Moldova, even announcing an imminent Russian invasion. Many Moldovans prepared to leave the country: “We were afraid, we were sitting on packed suitcases,” says Elena Cernei, who lives near the Ukrainian border. “We did not know what would happen the next day.
In the months that followed, gas and electricity prices exploded, and inflation soared to more than 30 percent. More than 600,000 refugees arrived in Moldova. With a population of 2.6 million, this was an immense challenge for Europe’s poorest country. The war in Ukraine and Russian propaganda polarized society. In the fall of 2022, pro-Russian protests broke out against the pro-European government, which had a secure majority in parliament. Paid demonstrators were brought to the capital Chisinau from all over Moldova. The protests were organized and financed by the Moscow-aligned opposition and the corrupt, fugitive politician Ilan Şor. Their goal was to destabilize the political situation. Author Irene Langemann was there with her Moldavian team. The result is a portrait of a torn and divided society.
The story describes how the war in Ukraine has changed the lives of people in Moldova. Anatolie Dicusar, a businessman, can barely keep his company afloat because of the skyrocketing prices. He has set up a clothing store for refugees in his workshop. Blogger and musician Vova Karmanov has stopped making music. Instead, he reports on the frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space. President Maia Sandu fights tirelessly for democracy and freedom. On 3.3.2022 she applied for EU membership. Since 24. June 2022 the country is an official candidate.
In the year 2023 the situation in the country became critical. On 10. February the government resigned. Three days later, Maia Sandu announced that Russia was planning to destabilize Moldova: The plan included sabotage actions involving militarily trained individuals from countries such as Russia, Belarus, and Serbia disguised as civilians. They prepared violent actions, including attacks on government offices and kidnappings.
The story follows the personal fates of the protagonists as well as the social and political events in Moldova since the beginning of the Ukrainian war.

Commissioned by WDR. First broadcasted ARD 5.4.2023

Link to Mediathek