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The Law on Combating Foreign Propaganda Was Voted by the Parliament. President Dodon Says He Will Not Promulgate It

07 December 2017
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On Thursday, December 7, the Parliament approved in final reading the draft law providing broadcasters with the right to air foreign informational, analytical, military, and political programs produced in the Member States of the European Union, in the United States, Canada, and in the countries that have ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. Communist MPs left the room in protest, and the members of the Socialist parliamentary group announced that they would challenge the document in the Constitutional Court and would speak only Russian until the end of the meeting.

The document adopted by MPs provides for supplementing the Broadcasting Code with a new notion, “information security,” which is defined as a “set of measures to ensure the protection of people, society, and the state from potential disinformation and/or manipulative information from outside and non-admission of media provocations against Moldova.”

The draft law was presented in the Parliament by Sergiu Sirbu, MP representing the Democratic Party, who said that the adoption of this document is aimed at ensuring the country’s information security. Earlier, Andrian Candu, the deputy chairman of the Democratic Party and Speaker of the Parliament, told a TV station that “the anti-propaganda draft law targets broadcasts from the Russian Federation,” which is one of the countries that have not ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

Socialist MPs proposed excluding the draft law from agenda, but their proposal did not obtain enough votes. According to Socialist MP Vlad Batrancea, after the adoption of this law, Moldova might face diplomatic scandals with other countries that have not signed the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, such as Belarus, Armenia, the Netherlands, Iceland, and others.

Inna Supac, Socialist MP, objected that the draft law had not been sent for expert examination to international structures – the OSCE, the Council of Europe, or the Venice Commission. And the leader of the Party of Communists, Vladimir Voronin, said that by this draft law the government pursues economic goals rather than political.

The draft law was supported by MPs from the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democratic Party. At the same time, Liberal MP Roman Botan reproached the authors of the draft law representing the Democratic Party that despite declaring they are against foreign propaganda, they continue retransmitting the broadcasts of Pervy Kanal television from the Russian Federation.

In her turn, Liberal Democratic MP Maria Ciobanu drew the attention of lawmakers that media propaganda comes not only from abroad, but also from inside, through television stations supported by representatives of the Democratic Party and the Party of Socialists.

Among other things, the law provides for fines from MDL 40,000 to MDL 70,000 for broadcasters that will not comply with the new requirements, and for repeated violations – from MDL 70,000 to MDL 100,000. The harshest punishment will be withdrawal of the broadcast license.

Also, courts will have to examine disputes regarding the violation of the above rules within 30 days, and appeals will have to be filed within three days of the judgment and examined within 10 days.

The law was adopted with the votes of 61 MPs in the first and second reading, and it is expected to enter into force within 30 days from its publication in the Official Gazette.

After the Parliament adopted the draft law, President Igor Dodon said on a social networking website that he would not promulgate the law.