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Moldovan press freedom groups condemn attacks on journalists during recent protests (Demo)

This is an edited version of a statement originally published on on 11 June 2019.

We, a group of media NGOs, condemn the assaults, intimidation and violence directed at journalists during the protests of 7-9 June 2019, which were organised in Chisinau by the Democratic Party of Moldova. During those three days, several media outlets published videos of assaults on their reporters while they were attempting to carry out their job of informing Moldova’s citizens about the events. (Below, we provide a list of the main rights violations suffered by journalists and media outlets during this period.)

Those who organised the protests have to take full responsibility for the abuses and excesses that occurred during the public demonstrations in this period. We strongly condemn the verbal assaults and violence directed at journalists.

We remind the organisers of the protests that any violent behaviour directed at the media is a serious breach of the rights of journalists. The law guarantees journalists the freedom to receive and share information through media, to make audiovisual recordings, to film and take pictures, to attend rallies, demonstrations and every kind of public protest (Article 20 of the Law on the Press).

According to Article 1801 of the Criminal Code, the intimidation of the media or of a journalist solely for critical reporting may be subject to criminal liability. The State guarantees the defense of the honor and dignity of a journalist, and protects his or her health, life and property (Article 20(3) of the Law on the Press).

We want to inform international media outlets – Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, IFEX, SEEMO, SEENPM – that in the Republic of Moldova, the cases of assaults against journalists have recently multiplied and that media representatives feel unsafe whilst performing their jobs.

We urge embassies and international institutions in the Republic of Moldova to take note of the cases that we attach below and to give them proper consideration.

Violations of the rights of journalists during the events of 7-9 June in the Republic of Moldova:

  • On Friday, 7 June, the reporter Mihai Avasiloaie from was verbally insulted by several participants in the protests. He wanted to know the reasons for their protest, but they answered him aggressively: ‘Why are you bothering the people? What the hell do you want?’
  • On the evening of 8 June, the journalist Anastasia Antoceanu, from the same editorial office, was hit on the arm by one of the organisers of the demonstration in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
  • Victoria Dumbrava, editor-in-chief of portal, made a public statement on the same evening, announcing that the Agora editorial office refused to broadcast live because ‘from the moment the tents were installed, not a single police officer appeared either in front of the MIA or in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office (GP) and that people were aggressive to Agora reporters. The reporters decided to leave because they did not feel safe in the public space’.
  • Reporter Felicia Nedzelschi, from the same portal, said: ‘During the rally, Victoria Dumbrava was verbally assaulted by the bodyguard of Vlad Plahotniuc (chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova) and I was assaulted by the bodyguard of Andrian Candu (also of the Democratic Party of Moldova). While we were broadcasting live near the tents installed in front of MIA and GP, several men tried to push me and cover my camera’.
  • Cornelia Cozonac, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism from Moldova, reported that Saturday evening, reporter Mariana Colun from anticorupţ portal was assaulted by combatants/veterans of the war on the Nistru River, near the MIA headquarters; Julieta Savitchi was assaulted near Moldova 1 TV headquarters, Sunday morning, on 9 June.
  • Galina Vasilieva, editor-in-chief of the aforementioned portal, said that reporter Olga Gnatcova was prevented from shooting on Saturday night into Sunday. ‘She was grabbed by the hand and forced to turn her back to the veterans – the journalist nearly fell over.’
  • A Pro TV reporter was manhandled away by one of bodyguards of Vlad Plahotniuc.
  • TV 8 reporter Sergiu Niculita and a cameraman were assaulted, their camera was covered, and their microphone was hit; a protester also extinguished a cigarette on the microphone sponge and damaged it.
  • On Sunday, 9 June, near the Government building, TV 8 reporter, Daniela Cutu, was chased by a protester. Subsequently, one of the protesters started to pressure her to make her stop filming and leave the area, saying ‘Go away! Don’t you understand!?’ When the journalist hung up her phone he splashed her with water.
  • Another participant in the protest of 9 June, as well as the bodyguards of Vlad Plahotniuc, assaulted the reporter of Ziarul de Garda and did not allow him to get close to the politician. Ex-PD MP, Cornel Dudnic, tore the backpack of the journalist Aliona Ciurca, impeding her from asking questions.
  • Alina Radu, director of Ziarul de Garda, spoke about the case of the reporter Ecaterina Alexandr, who was assaulted by a protester while filming a discussion about protesters being paid. When the journalist tried to take pictures, the protester became aggressive, grabbed the camera, hit the camera lens, cursed and threatened the journalist.
  • On Sunday, 9 June, during the protest, a UNIMEDIA reporter was assaulted and intimidated by the bodyguard of top democratic leaders and members of the State Protection and Guarding Service when she attempted to ask the leaders of the Democratic Party, Vlad Plahotniuc, Pavel Filip and Andrian Candu, some questions. As the video shows, the bodyguards behaved aggressively towards the reporter. Every time the journalist tried to get closer to Vlad Plahotniuc and Pavel Filip, they pushed her and kept her away from the crowd.
  • Aurica Jardan-Rusnac, from the same editorial office, complained that Mihail Balan, President of the National Union of Veterans of the Independence War ‘hit my phone and grabbed my hand with force’.

Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
Association of Independent TV Journalists
‘Access-Info’ Center
RISE Moldova

The post Moldovan press freedom groups condemn attacks on journalists during recent protests appeared first on IFEX.


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