REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

GOVERNMENT SILENCES OPPOSITION MEDIA AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

With just a year to go before parliamentary elections, the government is trying to silence the opposition media, says a group of media organisations, including local IFEX member the Independent Journalism Center (IJC).

Most recently, the bi-weekly opposition paper "Moldavskie Vedomosti" has been targeted with a criminal investigation into alleged corruption, said the groups in a joint statement. The paper allegedly overcharged national company Soroca Quarry for advertising, and was accused of "misappropriating foreign property". The investigation, led by the public prosecutor's office, was brought against "Moldavskie" after it published a story about the recent re-nationalised quarry.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the editor of "Moldavskie", Dmitri Ciubasenco, said he was convinced that "the public prosecutor's investigation is political" and that it was designed to lead to the newspaper's bankruptcy. He insisted that the contracts he signed were legal and that the payments respected the contracts. IJC says that Ciubasenco was not informed about the legal action and was not asked to give testimony.

In another incident, journalist Oleg Brega was detained for three days for peacefully protesting outside the National Palace, where celebrations were held to mark the 50th anniversary of Moldova's public television station, say the groups. A district court ruled that Brega's "50 years of lies" placard constituted "injury" and sentenced him to three days of detention. His brother, Ghenadie Brega, who protested Oleg's detention, was himself detained for two days.

The authorities' desire to subdue critical voices was further exposed during the 7 and 8 May meetings of the Broadcasting Coordination Council, the body that allocates broadcast frequencies, say the media organisations. According to IJC, none of the licences up for grabs were offered to stations that give the opposition access or that broadcast critical opinions. So independent radio station Vocea Basarabiei was granted no FM frequencies, while pro-government broadcasters PRCM and PPCD got more than 20 frequencies.

"The council's behaviour shows that these decisions are made outside the council, while its members represent biased interests," say the groups. They are asking the authorities to stop interfering in the activity of the council and to punish those that intimidate the mass media and mistreat journalists.

"Even though the President and Prime Minister state that they uphold the principles of a free press, cases in which journalists are intimidated, in which the right to free expression is violated, and in which the press is subdued are growing in number," the groups say.

Visit these links:
- Joint statement of media organisations: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93788
- IJC: http://www.ijc.md/eng/
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=27226
(3 June 2008)

Latest Tweet:

[email protected]_int condemns appalling attack on journalists and protestors in Gaza by Israel https://t.co/fLpEviUPaL https://t.co/XlvUwAFXbh