December 13, 2017  |  Updated July 5, 2018

The Wrath of Trolls

By Corina Rebegea

This article was originally published by CEPA.

On 27 November, the U.S. State Department issued a press statement expressing concern about legislation it said could undermine anti-corruption efforts and weaken judicial independence. It urged the parliament to “reject proposals that weaken the rule of law and endanger the fight against corruption.” The statement echoes criticism of the bill coming from Romanian civil society organizations, professional associations and members of various legal bodies. In addition, protesters and other critics claim the proposed changes will gravely affect the independence of the judiciary, including that of anti-corruption special prosecutors.

The U.S. communique polarized Romanian politicians and ordinary citizens, triggering criticism even from pro-American mainstream politicians who accused Washington of interfering with Romanian domestic affairs. But it also gave the Russian disinformation machine an opening to roll out its anti-Western narrative about U.S. neocolonialism robbing Romania of its sovereignty. With the multitude of voices inundating both mainstream and fringe media, outlets like Sputnik and its informal affiliates online—mainly pro-Russian Facebook activists—have hyped up the nationalist undertones they try to stimulate in Romania.

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