The Russian Federation’s Embassy to Bucharest states that the statements that Ambassador Valeri Kuzmin made – on the topic of a referendum on the potential union of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, and of the Russian intervention in Georgia – at a conference in Suceava, statements that sparked reactions from the Romanian public opinion, were misinterpreted, possibly because of the “not quite accurate” translation and the taking out of context.
“The embassy considers it necessary to present the authentic words used by the Russian diplomat, because their misinterpretation may be the result of a not quite accurate translation in the Romanian language, and of the selective quoting of some separate phrases by taking them out of a wider context,” reads a letter posted on the embassy’s Facebook page in regard to the ambassador’s participation at the “Developing entrepreneurial relations with the Russian Federation” conference that took place in Suceava on Thursday.
The referendum in Crimea and the situation of Romania and the Republic of Moldova
According to News Bucovina, at the conference the Russian diplomat stated: “In Romania, I heard, not seldom, what would be the legal side or how Romania and the Republic of Moldova should unite: based on the historical right or with the help of a referendum. Considering these details, I would propose you should stake on the idea of a referendum, bearing in mind that such a situation occurred in Crimea,” Kuzmin said.
Likewise, after he invoked the situation in Crimea and the referendum for the independence of Catalonia, the Russian ambassador was asked how he sees the situation of Bukovina, which was split in two. According to News Bucovina, his answer was: “Considering these elements, you can analyse the situation in Bukovina too.”
The embassy presents the context in which this topic was tackled, stating that “the ambassador made a punctual reference to an analysis of the favourable and unfavourable factors for the development of commercial-economic cooperation with Romania at this stage,” also conducting an analysis of the essence and consequences of the “illegal” sanctions adopted by the EU and several other countries against Russia relating to “the alleged illegal annexation of Crimea.”
In this context, the diplomatic mission claims, Kuzmin “demonstrated that a democratic referendum was carried out in Crimea in March 2014, one in which over 83 percent of the population of the peninsula took part, 90 percent of whom voted in favour of Crimea becoming part of the Russian Federation as its subject,” which makes the EU sanctions against Russia not only illegal but also ignoring the democratic will of the people of Crimea.
“Exactly in this context, V.I.Kuzmin expressed the allegation that all these circumstances and arguments can be perceived fairly adequately in Romania, because he has repeatedly noticed in the Romanian media and blogosphere discussions about ‘what can be the basis of carrying out the union of Bessarabia with Romania: based on the results of a referendum or based on a certain historical right to this territory,’” the embassy explains.
Likewise, according to the posting, Kuzmin was asked “persistent questions” in what concerns the outlook on Romania’s union with the Republic of Moldova and with the territories of other neighbouring countries, his answer being that “at one point, both Russia and Romania recognised the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, which was particularly noted in the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova on 19 November 2001.”
“In any case, the people of the Republic of Moldova have the right to determine their own destiny in the form they see fit,” the embassy concludes.
Russia’s intervention in Georgia
The diplomatic representation considers incomplete and incorrect also the way Kuzmin’s statements about the August 2008 events in Georgia were reflected, the diplomat objecting to the way the events were interpreted, namely as a Russian invasion of a sovereign state. The rector of the ‘Stefan cel Mare’ University of Suceava sarcastically told Kuzmin that the tracks of Russian tanks are still visible 25 kilometres from Tbilisi and maybe their braking systems should be fixed.
“He [the ambassador] emphasised that the Russian armed forces carried out ‘an operation of constraining Georgia to peace, after Mikhail Saakashvili, the country’s then-president, who is now protesting in downtown Kiev, ordered the use of multiple rocket launchers against the peaceful city of Tskhinvali,’” the embassy claims.
On disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion
According to News Bucovina, the rector of the University of Suceava also allegedly told the ambassador that his speech was less about the economy and was centred more on defences, congratulating him for the fact that his visit looks more like a visit meant to improve the Russian Federation’s image in the region.
“At the university, we are used to listening to all points of view and today we must learn – and actually hold classes – to protect ourselves from manipulation, because we are aware we are surrounded by manipulation techniques on all sides,” Rector Valentin Popa said.
“Concerning the replies from the audience, according to which cases of disinformation and manipulation of public opinion often appear today, V.I.Kuzmin noted that this is the mistake often made precisely by the Romanian media and social networks. The most common method on this plane is that of switching around the causes of an event or of a phenomenon and its consequences. For instance, the Russian side’s critical reaction to any political provocation becomes an occasion for a new wave of attacks on Russia, on its foreign policy and leaders. Such a practice, according to the ambassador’s assessment, inevitably poisons the atmosphere of bilateral relations,” the Russian embassy points out.