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Political Fights at Comrat for Holding the Control over GRT

01 March 2018
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The Council of Observers (CO) of the Public Regional Company ‘Teleradio Gagauzia’ appointed Petr Vlah – Comrat municipal councilor, as GRT acting director. The head of ‘Piligrim-Demo’ organisation from ATU Gagauzia, Mihail Sirkeli, explains this appointment as a will of CO members to maintain the current situation when the regional public broadcaster is totally controlled by the Bashkan (Governor) of Gagauzia – Irina Vlah, and to hamper the change of GRT leadership, which was initiated by Gagauz People’s Assembly. Note that in December 2017, Comrat People’s Assembly dissolved GRT CO, and the latter challenged this decision before the court.

How did Vlah get to GRT?

Petr Vlah made a public statement of his Facebook page and announced that on 23 February this year, the Council of Observers elected him as GRT acting director. He stated that he accepted to manage the company in order to protect it from the attacks of local politicians. ‘It’s not a secret that the multiple attempts of raider attacks on the single teleradio company that broadcasts in the Gagauz language, took place under the control of local politicians’, wrote Vlah on this social network.

The CO President – Maria Acbas, confirmed for the portal the appointment of Vlah as acting director, but no documents confirming Council’s decision have been published. She explained that GRT is currently passing through a difficult period, being subject to a ‘raider attack’ and that Council’s members proposed Vlah for this position only after it became vacant.
Conflict between CO and People’s Assembly

The GRT Council of Observers, which appointed Petr Vlah as acting director of the Regional Public Company, was dissolved on 27 December 2017 by the decision of local MPs of Comrat People’s Assembly. Although the CO challenged local MPs decision before the court, the People’s Assembly decided to organise the contest to appoint new CO members.
Maria Acbas – CO president, published on her Facebook page the list of 17 persons who applied for this contest (it’s not clear if the list is complete).

Meanwhile, stated that some of those who applied for the contest announced their withdrawal since they considered it illegal and one of them recognised that he applied ‘under the pressure’ of local MPs.

On the agenda of the topics to be debated by Comrat People’s Assembly during the session of 27 February was also included the ‘draft decision on the election the members of the Council of Observers of Teleradio Gagauzia Regional Public Company’.

However, the Assembly failed to debate that topic during this session.

Petr Vlah came at the end of the session and announced the local MPs that he was appointed as GRT acting director and that he would not obey to any political and administrative force from the region. Vlah specified that any MP or power representative wanting to attend GRT shows will be able to get on set only by signing up and only with his consent. According to Vlah, GRT shows will be attended by all the parties involved in one subject or another in order to save the airtime, in cases when it is necessary to give the right to reply.

The MP Ecaterina Jecova mentioned during the session of the People’s Assembly that she would accept to attend only GRT live shows since the made-up shows she has attended so far have omitted some of the statements she has made.
GRT securing

The president of ‘Piligrim-Demo’ NGO from Comrat – the journalist Mihail Sirkeli, believes that the appointment of Petr Vlah as GRT acting director could be explained by the will of the Bashkan (Governor) of Gagauzia – Irina Vlah to maintain the control over the regional public broadcaster and to hamper the attempts to change GRT leadership, which was initiated by People’s Assembly.
‘I think he was appointed to maintain the control of the Bashkan (Governor) Irina Vlah over the regional public broadcaster. For instance, if the PA had appointed nine new members of CO, the current members would have appealed that decision and wouldn’t have given up their positions. Hence, I think that People’s Assembly and the democrats tried to establish the new membership through possible pressures. Petr Vlah was appointed in order to avoid a potential seize of power by force within GRT and not allow the development of severe scenarios’ stated Sirkeli for

The president of ‘Piligrim-Demo’ stated that GRT took several security measures and equipped the entrance to the building with new security posts.

He added that a precedent took place when a group of persons led by the former president of People’s Assembly, Dmitri Constantinov, tried to dismiss by force the former director of GRT– Ecaterina Jecova.
Sirkeli believes that a fight is currently taking place between the main political actors from the region – the Bashkan (Governor) of Gagauzia, whose voice became the GRT, and Nicolae Dudoglo who wants to take over the control over the television in the context of the upcoming election.

He added that GRT is one of the most important sources that provides information about the domestic events to the population from the Autonomy.

How legal is Vlah's appointment?

Mihail Sirkeli questions the legality of Vlah’s appointment as GRT acting director due to the fact that he occupies the position of municipal councilor. ‘Practically, this is a violation of the law, since he is a municipal councilor in Comrat, and the mandate of the local elected servant is incompatible with the position of GRT’s executive director’, Sirkeli said. 

Photo source: Photo of the People's Assembly session of 27 February 2018.