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Religion and Forced Displacement in the Republic of Moldova

Article by Andrei Avram

July 23, 2020

Religion and Forced Displacement in the Republic of Moldova


Large-scale emigration has represented the single most important social – and even existential – challenge to the Republic of Moldova since the country proclaimed its independence in August 1991. Between 1989, when the last Soviet census was carried out, and 2018, the population of the young state decreased by almost one million citizens, from 3,657,665 to an estimated 2,681,735 by the end of 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.[1] A similar trend can be noticed in the breakaway region of Transnistria, which counted only 475,100 inhabitants in 2015; a decrease of over 200,000 compared to 1989.[2] The process of migration overwhelmed both state institutions and Moldovan society at large; leaving them faced with the concomitant tasks of democratic state-building and the transformation from a Soviet-style command economy to a market-based system. It was against this backdrop that religious life in the country, especially the majority Orthodox Christian faith, experienced an almost spectacular revival, while also having to respond to the most pressing social issues, including the consequences of migration both within the country and in the ever-growing diaspora.


Religion, ethnicity and population

The religious demographics of the Republic of Moldova is dominated by Orthodox Christianity, which could have (had) the potential to serve as a unifying factor in the ethnically diverse society, which has been divided almost evenly between supporters of European integration and those who would prefer closer ties with Russia. However, the Orthodox faith has become embedded in societal debates regarding the identity of the Republic of Moldova, which has since 1992 been the venue of competing Orthodox churches, namely the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Metropolis of Bessarabia, subordinate to the Romanian Orthodox Church. The latter represented the reinstatement of a similar structure that existed in the inter-war period when the historical province of Bessarabia (which comprises most of today’s Republic of Moldova, except for Transnistria) had been part of Romania and has been promoting a pan-Romanian identity based on the view that Moldovans are, in fact, Romanians and that the Moldovan nation is a construct from Soviet times. The former takes a more inclusive view of its Moldovan flock, which comprises not only the majority Romanian-speaking population, but also the sizeable, mainly Russian-speaking ethnic minorities. It has also been promoting the worldview of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers itself to be entrusted with the safekeeping of the identity of the former Tsarist Empire, which included Bessarabia.[3]


According to the latest Moldovan census of 2014, 90.1 per cent of the population is Orthodox Christian.[4] A more recent survey from January 2019 gives an even higher figure, finding that 91.4 per cent of respondents were faithful of the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova and 3.7 per cent of the Metropolis of Bessarabia.[5] Moreover, the degree of religiosity is also significant. In a survey carried out in 2014, 31.3 per cent of respondents stated that they went to church either often or at least once a month, a figure that was higher than a decade earlier, when it stood at 22.6 per cent. Furthermore, the proportion of those who never went to church decreased from 25 per cent in 2003 to only 10.3 per cent in 2014.[6] Among religious minorities, only the Baptist faith has a following of more than 1 per cent of the population.


The diverging views on identity are also reflected in the statistics regarding the ethnic structure of the country. Thus, 73.7 per cent of respondents declared themselves to be Moldovans in the 2014 census, with a further 6.9 per cent stating they were Romanian. Ethnic minorities include Ukrainians (6.5 per cent), Russians (four per cent), Gagauz (4.5 per cent) and Bulgarians (1.8 per cent). While the religious demography of the internationally unrecognised, so-called Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (known internationally as Transnistria) is similar to that of Moldova as a whole, with approximately 90 per cent of the population belonging to the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova[7] (albeit with no parishes of the Metropolis of Bessarabia), its ethnic fabric is significantly different, with only 28.6 per cent Moldovans, and with Russians comprising 29.1 per cent and Ukrainians 22.9 per cent of the population.[8]


Religion-state relations

Although the law on religious groups adopted by parliament in May 2007 stipulates both the equality of all religions before the law and public authorities (article 15, paragraph 1), and the principle of state non-intervention in religious affairs (article 15, paragraph 2), the same legal act contains a provision highlighting that the state ‘recognises the significant importance and the primordial role of the Christian Orthodox religion and, respectively, of the Orthodox Church of Moldova in the life, history and culture of the people of the Republic of Moldova’ (article 15, paragraph 5).[9] A similar provision exists in the corresponding Transnistrian ‘law’, albeit only mentioning the role of Orthodoxy and not of the Moldovan church.[10] This may reflect the fact that although the Eparchy of Tiraspol and Dubăsari is subordinate to the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, it is known to have a de facto special status, having been founded as a compromise between the Transnistrian authorities and the Russian Orthodox Church in light of the unrecognised status of the region.[11]


The Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova has at times been said to have benefitted from preferential treatment regarding taxation and donations of public property upon which to build churches; allegations which the Moldovan Orthodox Church has consistently denied.[12] The dominant position of the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova is also reflected in its close cooperation with state bodies. Thus, it has concluded several cooperation agreements with institutions such as the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family,[13] the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice. In coordination with the Ministry of Labour, for instance, the Metropolis has developed a network of social services, including day-care centers and shelters within churches and monasteries, while the church also provides spiritual guidance to army personnel and police officers, as well as prison inmates.[14]


According to its website, the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova has specialised departments for religious education, pastoral work in the army and in the sector of internal affairs, youth work, social and charity work, cultural relations, spiritual work in hospitals and pastoral work in prisons.[15] A similar organisational structure exists within the Eparchy of Tiraspol and Dubăsari.[16] The homepage of the Moldovan Orthodox Church also lists six subordinate social-philanthropic institutions, including an orphanage and social centers.[17] It is not church policy to provide information on social work carried out in individual parishes and eparchies.[18] However, the Metropolis highlights the importance of individual parish social and charity work, as well as the need for cooperation with social, health and educational workers in each community.[19]  The media has in the past noted critically that the activity reports of the above-mentioned structures are not published on the official website of the Moldovan Orthodox Church.[20] The Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, while publishing press releases on individual social activities, maintains that it does not wish to praise its acts of charity.[21]


The Metropolis of Bessarabia has not as yet been in a position to conclude cooperation agreements with state institutions, yet it is active in the social field. It channels most of its charity work through the Diaconia Social Mission, which in 2018 had an annual budget of 459.000 euro.[22] Key social projects include support for vulnerable families and single mothers, food and clothing donations, assistance for the integration of orphans, canteens for elderly citizens, children’s and youth camps etc.[23] Notably, Diaconia cooperates with the (small) Roman Catholic community – and Caritas Vienna and Ambrosiana are among the international donors of the organisation.[24] Unlike the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, which has its own Theological Academy in the capital, most future priests of the Metropolis of Bessarabia study in Romania.[25]


Religion and forced displacement

The first significant wave of migration in the Republic of Moldova took place in 1992, when, during (March – July) and in the immediate aftermath of the short, yet bloody civil war between Chișinău and Transnistria, approximately 100,000 people fled to third countries and 51,289 were registered as internally displaced persons (IDPs) on territory controlled by the constitutional authorities.[26] A significant proportion of IDPs settled in the capital, where some were provided with housing.[27] However, after the end of hostilities the majority of IDPs returned to the Transnistrian region, with only 200 IDP families remaining on the right bank of the Dniester as of 2012. Furthermore, almost all people who had fled to Ukraine (60,000) also returned to their homes.[28]


The process of mass emigration from the Republic of Moldova started in 1993 against the background of worsening economic conditions. Indeed, by the end of the 1990s, the country’s GDP had dropped to one third of its pre-independence level, and a World Bank study estimated that in 1999 about 80 per cent of the population were living below the poverty line.[29] Destination countries were mainly Russia and, initially to a somewhat lesser extent, European Union (EU) member states. By 2004, the country had lost almost 300,000 residents compared with 1989 figures. The process of emigration subsequently intensified, reaching an annual figure of approximately 50-60,000 persons.[30] In 2018, remittances constituted 16.2 per cent of the country’s GDP; the 11th highest proportion in the world and the third highest among CIS countries.[31] Notably, whereas in the 1990s migration had been largely a male phenomenon, the intensification of the process of migration and especially the possibility of migration to EU countries, where care workers were sought after, led to a ‘feminisation’ of migration.[32] By 2017, the majority of Moldovan emigrants were women.[33] Moreover, Moldovan emigrants have a relatively high level of education, with 28 per cent being university graduates.


The demographic structure of Moldovan emigration has had serious consequences. In a country in which traditionally women were responsible for raising children and caring for elderly relatives, the ‘feminisation’ of migration has generated a wide range of social problems. Furthermore, data provided in 2017 by the Ministry of Education puts the figure of children with one parent abroad at over 77,000.[34] Also, the compound effect of the high level of education of emigrants and the growing number of women leaving the Republic of Moldova has led to staff shortages in the education and healthcare sectors.[35]


Moldovan authorities were unprepared for the challenges associated with managing the consequences of emigration at home, and with systematically engaging with the country’s new diaspora. During the early 1990s, a Department of Migration did exist within the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, but the lack of efficiency thereof led to the creation of the State Service of Migration in 2001, the priorities of which were the preparation of a legislative framework on migration management, as well as drafting agreements with other countries regulating the status of Moldovan migrant workers.[36] In 2002, the first such document was concluded between the Republic of Moldova and Italy, and by 2006 a total of 19 similar bilateral agreements had been signed.[37] By comparison, until 2001 such agreements had only existed with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.[38] However, the State Service of Migration was subsequently dissolved and diaspora engagement was – rather strangely – placed under the authority of the Bureau of Interethnic Relations (which is also responsible for national minority policies), before the Bureau for Diaspora Relations was operationalised within the State Chancellery of the Prime Minister in 2013.[39]


The Bureau for Diaspora Relations is responsible for coordinating state policies towards the diaspora. Yet despite this role, it has never truly had exclusive competence in this regard, requiring coordination with several ministries, including the departments responsible for labour and social policy, health, education, foreign affairs and internal affairs.[40] The ‘Diaspora 2025’ National Strategy, adopted in 2016, lists six ministries besides the Bureau for Diaspora Relations as having competencies in drafting and implementing policies related to migration.[41] Institutional volatility and the need for complex processes of coordination between various agencies represent one of the challenges in calibrating policies on diaspora engagement, especially since Moldovan administrative culture does not entail loyal cooperation between state bodies. In fact, different state institutions use different methodologies to determine the number of Moldovans abroad, leading to divergent data sets. Furthermore, there appears to be no systematic coordination between what has been the declared objective of Moldovan diaspora policy, namely fostering the return of emigrant workers, and domestic economic, social and labour policies and strategies. The International Organization for Migration notes, for instance, that there are no national assessments of the effects of emigration on the labour market and only sporadic research into the effects on social security.[42]


A special note should be made regarding the lack of reliable statistics on the Moldovan diaspora. The difficulty in establishing the number of Moldovan migrants abroad has two main reasons. First of all, the vast majority of Moldovan emigrants still maintain official residency status in Moldova, meaning that more approximate methods of calculating their number are necessary. The most recent methodology, which was presented by the National Bureau of Statistics in July 2019, defines an emigrant as a person who over the past 12 months has spent a total of 9 months outside the country, after having spent 9 months over the past 12 months in the Republic of Moldova.[43] Based on this system of determining the population, the ‘realistic’ number of people living in the country was estimated at 2,681,735[44] – and thus almost one million (!) fewer than in 1989. These numbers also offer only a partial picture, since circular migration represents a significant characteristic of Moldovan emigration patterns. For instance, in 2017 about 160,000 people left the Republic of Moldova, while almost 110,000 returned.[45]


A more significant problem is determining the number of Moldovan citizens by country of destination. The main reason for this is the high number of Moldovans who have taken the citizenship of other states. Notably, according to official Romanian statistics, between 2002 and March 30th 2018, 521,025 Moldovan citizens had obtained Romanian citizenship.[46] Since Moldovan citizens cannot work without a permit in the EU and therefore use their Romanian passports when settling in Western Europe, they cannot be statistically separated from Romanian citizens from Romania. Thus, the discrepancies between registered Moldovan citizens and the actual number thereof are quite high. For instance, in 2016 the Italian Ministry of Labour quoted  a figure of about 150,000 Moldovan citizens registered in the country, which is the second most popular destination for Moldovan emigrants, whereas expert estimates put their actual number at almost 240,000. In other countries, the proportion of Moldovans registered as such by the authorities is even lower. In Germany, for instance, the 15,000 Moldovan citizens recorded in 2015 are estimated to represent only between 25 and 30 per cent of their true number, whereas in the United Kingdom about 90 to 95 per cent are in possession of EU passports.[47]


Even outside the EU it is hard to pinpoint the number of Moldovan emigrants. In Russia, which remains the single most important destination country, official data from 2016 provided a figure of 487,911 Moldovan citizens residing in the country.[48] Yet since 2006, when Russia introduced a so-called repatriation program, Moldovan citizens, including those who were not of Russian descent, have made use of this path to emigrate, and once having obtained Russian citizenship no longer appear in the respective statistics. This also holds true of Transnistrians, who have facilitated access to Russian citizenship.[49] Their emigration from the region to Russia therefore does not count as immigration from the point of view of the Russian authorities.


Despite being overwhelmed by the consequences of mass emigration, Moldovan state institutions do not appear to have systematically engaged with religious communities in order to jointly address the social consequences of emigration, both with regard to its impact on domestic affairs, and when it comes to engaging diaspora communities. In fact, the ‘Diaspora 2025’ National Strategy makes no mention of churches at all. This is especially paradoxical, since one stated objective is related to the consolidation of associations of Moldovans abroad, and in many countries, such as Russia, Italy or Portugal, the first such associations were centered around parishes where Moldovan emigrants converged.[50]


Notably, there has not been a systematic, centrally coordinated process of setting up Moldovan Orthodox churches abroad. Rather, individual Moldovan priests settled in Western European countries have over time established new parishes in countries such as Italy, France or Belgium.[51] Only later did the Moldovan Orthodox church start to systematically send priests abroad.[52] For canonical reasons, these cannot be subordinated to the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, but are included in the structure of the Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe, which is under the direct jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is only in Italy that in May 2019 the creation of a Moldovan Vicariate under the authority of said Exarchate was authorised by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, thus placing the 37 Moldovan churches in Italy under the authority of the Moldovan bishop Ambrozie of Bogorodsk for the first time.[53] As for the Metropolis of Bessarabia, its faithful in the diaspora are known to join Romanian parishes established by the Romanian Metropolises abroad, e.g. the Romanian Orthodox Metropolis of Western and Southern Europe or the Metropolis of Germany and Central Europe.[54] To a certain extent, the division of Moldovan Orthodoxy at home is thus reflected in the European diaspora as well, although this should not necessarily be overstated since some Moldovans may visit Romanian churches, which exist in a much higher number of places abroad. By contrast, in Russia Moldovans tend to visit local churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, although the building of the first Romanian-speaking church in the Siberian city of Surgut was blessed by Metropolitan Vladimir of Moldova in 2015.[55] Furthermore, since 2015 a church in Moscow – the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary – has functioned as the Representation of the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova in Russia.[56]


Moldovan churches in Western Europe play an important role in maintaining the culture and identity of parishioners, although there seems to be no systematic approach to the engagement of the local diaspora, with activities appearing to be the result of the initiatives of the local priest or community. Among the most widespread activities hosted or organised by Moldovan churches are Sunday or parish schools (e.g. in Mestre, Padua, Turin and Parma in Italy or Faro in Portugal), Romanian-language classes (e.g. in Montreuil in France and Padua in Italy), and the celebration of Moldovan holidays (e.g. Independence Day in Faro).[57] In 2015, Moldovan churches in Italy also organised the Week of the Orthodox Diaspora,[58] although this appears to have been a one-off event, whereas the Romanian Orthodox Church introduced the celebration of the Sunday of Romanian migrants on the first Sunday after August 15th in 2009, which is observed by churches both at home and abroad,[59] and thus also by the Metropolis of Bessarabia.


Notably, support for Sunday schools abroad was also included in the programme of the Moldovan government adopted in autumn 2015, with the Bureau for Diaspora Relations sending Romanian-language textbooks to Moldovan associations abroad which provided Romanian classes within the framework of Sunday schools at churches frequented by diaspora citizens.[60] Also, the Bureau for Diaspora Relations, with the financial support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has in the past offered grants to associations for so-called Educational Centers, with Moldovan religious communities numbering among the beneficiaries.[61] To a somewhat lesser extent, Moldovan churches also offer social services in order to help migrants adapt to their host country. One example is the church in Montreuil, which offers French classes, as well as other forms of support.[62] However, the social role of Moldovan churches abroad appears to remain limited, with less than 20 per cent of emigrants seeking their church’s help when faced with problems.[63] Paradoxically, in Italy, for instance, Moldovan migrants have appealed to the Catholic Church for support in the social sphere.[64]


While information on the activities of Moldovan churches is not available systematically, it is even more difficult to identify specific measures targeted at those left behind in the Republic of Moldova. The above-mentioned approach of the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova regarding the non-publicising of its social activities impedes more in-depth research in this regard. Nevertheless, since it is church policy to support those in need, it can be assumed that the beneficiaries of its social activities include elderly people left behind by their emigrant children, single mothers left behind by emigrant male partners, children left in the care of elderly relatives or other socially vulnerable categories. The church basically compensates for the ineffectiveness of state institutions, which, especially in rural areas, lack the capacity to respond to the consequences of the mass emigration of working-age adults. At an individual level, parishes abroad have also been involved in the collection of goods to be distributed to vulnerable families at home.


More systematic information is available regarding the Metropolis of Bessarabia, which supports the families of children whose parents have left the country in search for work, leaving their offspring in the care of grandparents (or other relatives).[65] One Diaconia project even focuses on the creation of ‘a mechanism by which all the community actors (the tutelage authority, religious community, the school, social assistance) could work together to provide assistance to parents who plan to work abroad, [including] consulting services to the person who shall be taking care of the child, and inform[ing] children about protection against any form of violence.’[66] At present, about 1,500 children are monitored within the framework of the project. Through its parishes, which number almost 200, the Metropolis of Bessarabia also provides material and spiritual support, as well as psychological counseling, on an individual case basis, through direct contact with the children and the relatives taking care of them in the absence of their parents.[67]


A final mention should be made of the fact that because of the dire socio-economic situation, the Republic of Moldova has not been on the receiving end of migration. According to official information, in 2014 and 2015, a total of 257 Ukrainians and 116 Syrians claimed asylum in the country.[68] Moreover, among the mixed Syrian-Moldovan families that repatriated due to the conflict in the Middle East, the majority subsequently left the Republic of Moldova for Western European countries.[69] This did not prevent the issue of a perceived threat of Muslim immigration from being misused during electoral campaigns for the presidential election (2016) and the local election in Chișinău (2018), with fake news being actively promoted by certain segments of the media, including the possibility of 30,000 Syrian immigrants entering the country should the opposition candidate Maia Sandu become head of state. This approach was possible given the latent Islamophobia in a country in which at least certain segments of the Orthodox Church had protested against the registration of the Islamic League in 2011.[70]


Policy perspectives

Given the impact of emigration as well as the important role Orthodoxy plays in Moldovan society, a case could be made for a more specific partnership between state institutions and both Orthodox churches regarding both diaspora engagement as well as managing the needs of the people affected by emigration at home. A more systematic division of labour, enshrined or at least included as an option in a future legal framework on migration management, could generate synergy effects especially with a view to conserving the culture and identity of Moldovans abroad, including in particular knowledge of the Romanian language and making use of the expanding network of Moldovan religious communities in the diaspora. It would also be of great use to identify parishes of the Romanian Orthodox Church with significant numbers of believers from the Republic of Moldova. This network could also be a partner of the Moldovan state in providing social assistance for citizens abroad. In order to develop optimal policies, the collection of more systematic information on activities already carried out by diaspora communities centred around churches abroad appears essential.


At home, the collection of systematic information on relatives of emigrant citizens left behind is essential. The fact that different institutions provide sometimes significantly different numbers impedes the development of a holistic approach regarding the social needs of the people most affected by emigration. In this sphere it may also be useful to establish, a more specific division of labour between state institutions and religious entities, possibly based on the precedent of existing cooperation agreements between the Moldovan church and state ministries. Furthermore, there should be a more inclusive approach on the part of the Moldovan state towards engaging systematically with other religious communities providing social services, including in particular the Metropolis of Bessarabia, which has a wide-ranging network of projects but without state support, as well as other smaller religious groups active in the Republic of Moldova. Although the latter represent only a small fraction of the country’s population, they do provide social services as well and should be encouraged to share their expertise and best practices. Given the past privileged relationship with the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, the extent to which the current or future Moldovan authorities would be inclined towards a more inclusive approach in this regard remains to be seen, and will depend on the geopolitical orientation shaping government policies regarding its general approach to religious communities in the country.


Andrei Avram is Programme Coordinator at the Representative Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Romania, based in Bucharest. He also supports the Representative Office in the Republic of Moldova, and in the past served as an advisor with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Moldovan Ministry of Internal Affairs. His publications include ‘Fragmentation, Fluidity and Personalization: Remarks On Shifts in the Pro-European Party Spectrum in the Republic of Moldova After 2014, Modelling the New Europe. An On-line Journal, 2017 (issue no. 23, pp. 31-44) and, with Martin Sieg, ‘Ambivalenz und innenpolitische Brüche: Die rumänische Europapolitik während der EU-Ratspräsidentschaft’, 2019 (Deutsch-Französischer Zukunftsdialog Working Paper, He is also the author of ‘Orthodox churches in Moldova’ in Lucian N. Leustean (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 402-425.


Cover photo: ‘Noul Neamț Monastery, Chiţcani, December 2008’. Copyright: Andrei Avram


[1] Unless otherwise specified, figures regarding the Republic of Moldova refer to the territory controlled by the central government in Chișinău and do not include the breakaway region of Transnistria, which is referred to separately; ‘Population with usual residence in Republic of Moldova, by sex and age groups, at the beginning of 2019’, National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, available at 6416&idc=168. All websites were accessed on 20 October 2019.

[2] Alla Ostavnaia, Cartografierea diasporei din Transnistria [= Ciclul de studii: Cartografierea diasporei, IV] (Mapping diaspora in Transnistria), Chișinău: Organizaţia Internaţională pentru Migraţie, Misiunea în Moldova, 2017, 18, available at

[3] Eduard Ţugui, Geopolitica ortodoxiei şi relația stat-biserică în Republica Moldova [= Policy Brief 6] (Geopolitics of Orthodoxy and church-state relationship in the Republic of Moldova), Chișinău: IDIS “Viitorul” and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2011, 3,  For an overview of the Weltanschauung of the two main Orthodox churches in the Republic of Moldova, see Andrei Avram, ‘Orthodox Churches in Moldova’ in Lucian N. Leustean (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 402-425.

[4] A complete overview of the census results can be found at

[5] Institutul de Politici Publice, Barometrul de Opinie Publică. Republica Moldova, ianuarie 2019 (Barometer of Public Opinion. Republic of Moldova, January 2019), Chișinău: Institutul de Politici Publice, 2019, 78,

[6] Institutul de Politici Publice, Barometrul de Opinie Publică din Moldova, noiembrie 2003 (Barometer of Public Opinion in Moldova, November 2003), Chișinău: Institutul de Politici Publice, 2003, 91,, and Institutul de Politici Publice, Barometrul Opiniei Publice. Republica Moldova, octombrie-noiembrie 2014 (Barometer of Public Opinion. Republic of Moldova, October-November 2014), Chișinău: Institutul de Politici Publice, 2014, 82, Barometru/Brosura_BOP_11.2014_prima_parte-r.pdf

[7] Ivan Suvorov, ‘Papskij vizit (Papal visit), press agency, May 5th 2017,

[8] Ivan Tynjaev, ‘Perepis’ naselenija PMR’ (Census of the population of PMR), press agency, March 9th 2017, available at

[9] The full version of the law (in Romanian) is available at &view =doc&id=324889&lang=1

[10] The full version of the law (in Russian) is available at

[11] Tatiana Cojocari, ‘Noi gândim în rusă, visăm în rusă’. Demitizarea proiectului de reintegrare a Transnistriei’ (`We think in Russian, dream in Russian`. The demystification of the project of Transnistria’s reintegration) [= LARICS Analysis], Tiraspol, 2017,

[12] Consiliul pentru Drepturile Omului, Raport al raportorului special pentru problemele minorităților, realizat în timpul misiunii ei în Republica Moldova (Report of the special rapporteur on minority issues, drafted during her mission in the Republic of Moldova), 2016, 9,,%20realizat%20%c3%aen%20timpul%20misiunii%20ei%20%c3%aen%20Republica%20Moldova.pdf

[13] Throughout the text, the names of ministries may differ, since they are referred to by their official designation at a particular moment in time.

[14] US Department of State, Moldova 2018 International Religious Freedom Report, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2019, 11-12,

[15] ‘Sectoare Sinodale’, Mitropolia Chișinăului și a Întregii Moldove (Synodal Sectors, Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova), available at

[16] ‘Eparxal’nye otdely, komissii i sovety,’ Tiraspol’skaja-Dubossarskaja Eparxija (Eparchial departments, commissions and councils, Eparchy of Tiraspol and Dubăsari), available at

[17] ‘Activitate socială’, Mitropolia Chișinăului și a Întregii Moldove (Social activity, Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova), available at

[18] This is explicitly mentioned in the press release regarding the presentation of the yearly report of the Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity from December 2016. See: Sectorul Sinodal Asistenţă Socială şi Caritate, ‘Sectorul Sinodal Asistenţă Socială şi Caritate a prezentat Raportul de Activitate pe anul 2016’ (Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity, ‘The Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity presented its Activity Report for the year 2016’), Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, 22 December 2016,

[19] Sectorul Sinodal Asistenţă Socială şi Caritate, ‘Şedinţa de lucru a Sectorului Sinodal Asistenţă Socială şi Caritate’ (Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity, ‘Working meeting of the Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity’), Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova, June 22nd 2016,

[20] Ana Gherciu, ‘Religie vs. activitate socială. Cere și ți se va da’ (Religion vs. social activity. Ask and you shall receive), Timpul (The Times), 3 November 2014,–activitate-sociala–cere-i-i-se-va-da-65465.html

[21] Sectorul Sinodal Asistenţă Socială şi Caritate, ‘Raportul’ (Synodal Sector for Social Assistance and Charity, ‘Report’).

[22] US Department of State, Moldova 2018 Report, 12; Misiunea Socială “Diaconia” a Mitropoliei Basarabiei, Asistăm cu drag față de aproapele. Raport anual 2018  (We assist with love for our neighbour. Annual report 2018), Chișinău: Misiunea Socială “Diaconia” a Mitropoliei Basarabiei, 33,

[23] Misiunea ‘Diaconia’, Asistăm (We assist).

[24] Interviews with an Orthodox Church official and a Roman Catholic official, Chișinău, February, 2019; Misiunea ‘Diaconia’, Asistăm (We assist), 21.

[25] Interview with an Orthodox Church official, Chișinău, February, 2019.

[26] Valeriu Moșneaga, Asylum-seekers, refugees and displaced persons in Moldova: Problems of recognition, social protection and integration [= CARIM-East Explanatory Note 13/103] (European University Institute and Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, 2013), 1, % 20Note_2013-103.pdf?sequence=1

[27] Interview with an Orthodox Church official, Chișinău, February, 2019.

[28] Moșneaga, Asylum-seekers, 1.

[29] Ludmila Roșca, ‘Integrarea socială a migranților prin cunoaștere și comunicare. Abordare holistă,’ (‘The social integration of migrants through knowledge and communication. A holistic approach’) Relații Internaționale Plus, 2017, 2 (12), pp. 52-53.

[30] Roșca, ‘Integrarea’ (The integration), 52.

[31] The full dataset is available at recent_value_desc=false.

[32] Elena Vaculovschi and Dorin Vaculovschi, ‘Aspecte de gen ale migrației de muncă din Republica Moldova’ (Gender aspects of work migration from the Republic of Moldova), Administrarea Publică, 2018, 1 (97), pp. 94-97.

[33] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, International Migration Report 2017 (United Nations: New York, 2017), 9, publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2017.pdf

[34] Ministerul Afacerilor Interne al Republicii Moldova. Biroul Migrație și Azil, Compendiul Statistic al Profilului Migrațional Extins al Republicii Moldova pentru anii 2015-2017 (Statistical Compendium of the Extended Migration Profile of the Republic of Moldova for the years 2015 – 2017), Chișinău: Ministerul Afacerilor Interne, 2018, 31,

[35] Nelly Filip and Natalia Coșelev, ‘Migrația ca problemă globală și națională’ (Migration as a global and national issue) in Grigore Belostecinic et al. (eds.) ‘Culegere de articole selective ale Conferinţei Ştiinţifice Internaţionale „Competitivitatea şi Inovarea în Economia Cunoaşterii’ (Collection of selected articles of the International Scientifc Conference Competitivity and Innovation in the Knowledge Economy’) Chișinău: Academia de Științe Economice a Moldovei, 2017, 259.

[36] Ion Loghin, Republica Moldova și fenomenul migrației în contextul extinderii UE (The Republic of Moldova and the phenomenon of migration in the context of EU enlargement), Chișinău: Departamentul Migrațiune, 2003, 2,

[37] Cristina Haruța, ‘Relația statului de origine cu migranții. O scurtă analiză a unor instrumente de politică publică din Republica Moldova’ (The relationship of the state of origin with migrants. A short analysis of some public policy instruments in the Republic of Moldova), Revista Transilvană de Științe Administrative, 2017, 1 (40), p. 28.

[38] Loghin, Republica Moldova și fenomenul migrației (The Republic of Moldova and the phenomenon of migration), 2.

[39] Haruța, ‘Relația statului de origine cu migranții’ (The relationship of the state of origin with migrants), 37.

[40] Ibid, p. 28.

[41] The full text of the Strategy (in Romanian) is available at view =doc&lang=1&id=363576

[42] International Organization for Migration, Migration Governance Snapshot: The Republic of Moldova (2018), 4,

[43] Biroul Național de Statistică al Republicii Moldova, Notă metodologică privind estimarea numărului populației cu reședință obișnuită pentru perioada 2014-2019 (Methodological note regarding the estimate of the population with usual residence for the period 2014 – 2019), Chișinău: Biroul Național de Statistică al Republicii Moldova, 2019, 1,

[44] ‘Population with usual residence in Republic of Moldova, by sex and age group, at the beginning of 2019’, National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova, available at 6416&idc=168

[45] The latter number also includes foreigners establishing residence in the Republic of Moldova. However, in 2017 only 3,712 foreign citizens were registered as having immigrated to the country. See: Ministerul Afacerilor Interne, Compendiul Statistic (Statistical Compendium), 15.

[46] Rodica Malic, ‘FALS: Numărul moldovenilor care solicită cetățenie română este într-o continuă scădere; doar 51 de cazuri în 2016’ (FAKE: The number of Moldovans who request Romanian citizenship is in continuous decline; only 51 cases in 2016), news portal, April 13th 2018,

[47] Valeriu Moșneaga, Cartografierea diasporei moldovenești din Germania, Marea Britanie, Israel, Italia, Portugalia și Rusia (Mapping Moldovan diaspora in Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Portugal and Russia) [Ciclul de studii: Cartografierea diasporei, III], Chișinău: Organizaţia Internaţională pentru Migraţiune, Misiunea în Moldova, 2017, 49-50, 56,

[48] Moșneaga, Cartografierea (Mapping), 45.

[49] Ostavnaia, Cartografierea diasporei (Mapping the diaspora), 19.

[50] Moșneaga, Cartografierea (Mapping), 127.

[51] Interview with a think tank official, Chișinău, February, 2019.

[52] Metropolitan Vladimir, ‘Interviul acordat de Mitropolitul Vladimir al Chişinăului şi al Întregii Moldove portalului ortodox ‘Pravoslavie i mir’ (Interview granted by Metropolitan Vladimir of Chișinău and All Moldova to the Orthodox portal ‘Pravoslavie i mir’), interview by Maria Seniciukova, Pravoslavie i mir (translated into Romanian and published on, April 14th 2011,

[53] ‘Vikarij Patriaršego ekzarxa Zapadnoj Evropy budet okormlyat’ moldavojazyčnuju pastvu v Italii’ (A vicar of the Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe will take care of the Moldovan-speaking flock in Italy), press release, May 30th 2019,

[54] Official communication from the Metropolis of Bessarabia, in possession of the author, September 2019.

[55] Interview with a think tank official, Chișinău, February, 2019; Biroul Relații cu Diaspora, ‘Diaspora moldovenească din Surgut, Federația Rusă’ (The Moldovan diaspora in Surgut, Russian Federation), Moldova de oriunde, no. 2 (December 2016), 67.

[56] ‘Istoričeskaja spravka’, Patriaršee podvor’e. Predstavitel’stvo Kishinevsko Kišinevsko- Moldavskoj pri Patriarxe Moskovskom i Vseja Rusi’, (Patriarchal compound. Representation of the Chisinau-Moldavian Metropolis at the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia), available at

[57] Examples of activities carried out by Moldovan Sunday schools in Italy can be found at: sites/default/files/document/attachments/02_impactul_activitatii_scolilor_duminicale_in_italia_aliona_purci_0.pdf. Examples of activities carried out by Moldovan churches in Western Europe can be found, inter alia, at

[58] The full programme of the event (in Romanian) can be found at

[59] Gheorghe Anghel, ‘Duminica migranților români’ (Sunday of Romanian migrants), Basilica Press Agency, August 19th 2018,

[60] Official communication of the Bureau for Diaspora Relations to the State Chancellery of the Republic of Moldova, 26 May 2015,

[61] ‘Câștigătorii granturilor de 3500 $ pentru Centrele Educaționale din Diasporă’ (The winners of 3500 $ grants for Educational Centres in Diaspora), Biroul Relații cu Diaspora, available at

[62] Valeriu Moșneaga, Cartografierea diasporei moldovenești în Italia, Portugalia, Franța și Regatul Unit al Marii Britanii  (Mapping the Moldovan diaspora in Italy, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain) [Ciclul de studii: Cartografierea diasporei moldovenești, II], Chișinău: Organizaţia Internaţională pentru Migraţiune, Misiunea în Moldova, 2017, 102-103, available at 01_cartografierea_diasporei_moldovenesti_in_4_tari_ue_rom.pdf.

[63] Moșneaga, Cartografierea diasporei (Mapping the diaspora), 35.

[64] Ibid, 78.

[65] Interview with an Orthodox Church official, Chișinău, February, 2019.

[66] Misiunea “Diaconia”, Asistăm (We assist), 13.

[67] Official communication from the Metropolis of Bessarabia, in possession of the author, September 2019.

[68] Ministerul Afacerilor Interne al Republicii Moldova. Biroul Migrație și Azil, Compendiul Statistic al Profilului Migrațional Extins al Republicii Moldova pentru anii 2014-2016 (Statistical Compendium of the Extended Migration Profile of the Republic of Moldova for the years 2014 – 2016), Chișinău: Ministerul Afacerilor Interne, 2017, 22, available at

[69] Interview with a Muslim community official, Chișinău, February, 2019.

[70] Ibid. Other website resources:, National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova;, Bureau for Diaspora Relations ; Bureau for Migration and Asylum of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova;, Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova;,  Diaconia Social Mission of the Metropolis of Bessarabia.

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