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Media NGOs Protest Against Intimidation and Threatening of Journalists in ATU Gagauz Yeri

10 August 2018
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Media non-governmental organisations express solidarity with the journalists of Nokta.md portal from the Gagauzian Autonomy, who are the target of attacks and threats after they published an article about the head of the Culture and Tourism Department, member of the Executive Committee of ATU Gagauz Yeri, Maria Semionova. The article says that the head of the Department, despite her status of civil servant, carries out entrepreneurial activities, being a master of ceremonies at weddings and other events, which violates the Law on Public Service and Status of Civil Servant. After publishing it, the editorial team was bullied over the social networks and the civil servant’s husband threatened them with physical violence (‘this is my woman and I will destroy anyone for her’). The signatory organisations are vehemently protesting against these attacks and ask the Prosecutor's Office to investigate them in line with the law.

We draw the attention and request the immediate response of the autonomy’s Bashkan (governor), Irina Vlah, in connection with this case of journalists’ intimidation for the criticism they bring. As well, we ask Mrs. Vlah to commence a service inquiry regarding the behaviour of some people holding public positions, including the prime-deputy-bashkan Vadim Ceban, who encouraged the intimidation of the journalists from Nokta.md portal. Such behavior is obviously and flagrantly contradictory to the democratic norms, but also to the legislation in force, violating the rights guaranteed by law when carrying out the journalist profession. We would like to remind you that deliberate obstruction of activities of a media outlet or journalist, as well as intimidation of a media outlet or journalist for criticism are offences provided for in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova.

The signatory organisations request an inquiry and a legal qualification of one more case that happened recently in Cismichioi, ATU Gagauz Yeri. To be precise, the local councillors prohibited filming the meeting of the local council of 3 July 2018, which is against the national legislation on adopting decisions and transparency of the decision-making process. Moreover, the councillor and journalist Dmitri Ianul, who tried to film the meeting, was threatened by other members of the local council.

Media non-governmental organisations express their concerns in respect of these cases and request the regional authorities (the Bashkan, the Executive Committee) and the subdivisions of central authorities (the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Chancellery) to take measures aimed at punishing the people that are guilty of intimidating the journalists and to prevent such cases from happening again.
 
Association of Independent Press
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent TV Journalists
Center for Investigative Journalism
Association of Investigative Reporters and Editorial Security
‘Acces-Info’ Center
Association of Electronic Press
Press Freedom Committee