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Media NGOs: ‘We inform the embassies and international media outlets that the number of cases of assaults against journalists multiplied in the Republic of Moldova’

11 June 2019
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Media NGOs condemn the assaults, intimidations and violent actions against journalists during the events of 7-9 June 2019 provoked by the participants in the protests organised at Chisinau by the Democratic Party of Moldova. During those three days, several media outlets published video materials about the assault against their reporters while they were in the field to document and inform the citizens. (Below, we provide a list of the main violations of the rights of journalists and media outlets during this period).

Media NGOs position on such assaults is strong: those who organised the protests have to take full responsibility for the incidents, abuses and excesses that occurred during the public demonstrations in this period.
We strongly condemn the verbal assault and violence against journalists.

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

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

We inform the international media outlets – Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, IFEX, SEEMO, SEEMP – that in the Republic of Moldova, the cases of assaults against journalists multiplied lately and that media representatives feel unsafe while performing their job. 

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

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 www.agora.md was verbally insulted by several participants in the protests. He wanted to know the reasons for their protest, but they answered him in a violent tone: ‘Why are you bothering the people? What the hell do you want?’.
  • In 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.
  • Victoria Dumbrava, editor-in-chief of Agora.md portal, made a public statement on the same evening, announcing that Agora editorial office, in corpore, refused to live broadcast because ‘since the moment the tents were installed, not a single police officer came neither in front of MIA nor in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office and that people were aggressive with 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 Plahotniuc and I was assaulted by the bodyguard of Candu. While we were live broadcasting near the tents installed in front of MIA and GP, several men tried to thrust me and cover my camera’.
  • Cornelia Cozonac, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism from Moldova, reported that Saturday evening, reporter Mariana Colun from www.anticorupţie.md portal was assaulted by combatants/veterans of the war on the Nistru River, near the MAI headquarters, and Julieta Savitchi – near Moldova 1 TV headquarters, Sunday morning, on 9 June.
  • Galina Vasilieva, editor-in-chief of the 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 with the back (to combatants), the journalist was just about to fall.’
  • Pro TV reporter was treated with a high hand by one of bodyguards of Plahotniuc and was pulled away from his way.
  • TV 8 reporter Sergiu Niculita and cameraman were assaulted, their camera was covered, their microphone was hit, and a protester extinguished the cigarette on themicrophone 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 give up shooting and leave that place: ‘Go away! Don’t you understand!?’, and when the journalist hung up the 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 closer to the politician. Ex-PD MP, Cornel Dudnic, teared the backpack of the journalist Aliona Ciurca, making it, thus, impossible for her to ask questions.
  • Alina Radu, director of Ziarul de Garda, spoke about the case of the reporter Ecaterina Alexandr, who was assaulted by a participant in the protest, while shooting a discussion about protesters being paid. When the journalist tried to take pictures, the woman became aggressive, she grabbed the camera, hit the camera lens, cursed and threatened her.
  • On Sunday, 9 June, during the protest, the 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 guardians had a violent behaviour towards the reporter. Every time the journalist tried to get closer to Vlad Plahotniuc and Pavel Filip, they pushed her and made her stay away from the crowd.
  • Also, Aurica Jardan-Rusnac, from the same editorial office, complaint 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