Ion Ceban’s New Criticism and Warnings to the Media Covering the Problems of the Capital. Reactions of Media NGOs

During the weekly meeting of Chisinau Mayor’s Office services held on March 20, Ion Ceban again criticized the media institutions covering the way in which a number of problems were being managed in the Capital. Among other things, the head of the city asked the vice-mayors and the heads of the departments to “urgently” contract the services for monitoring all the public information, as well as the legal services for protecting “the dignity and image of Chisinau Mayor’s Office.” Media NGOs disapproved of Ion Ceban’s intimidation campaign against the media.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ion Ceban claimed he was dissatisfied with many materials about the municipality he had been watching recently. “Currently, the election campaign is going on, and I really have to ask you, if we spend millions for renovations, to contract the legal services to protect your honor and dignity and to briefly monitor every opinion of every journalist. I would like to repeat that, last week, there were over 300 negative news items,” the mayor affirmed. He also blamed the public media service provider, remarking that “we maintain Teleradio-Moldova staff while they tell many lies from there, as well as other TV channels and informational portals.”

At the last week’s meeting of Chisinau Mayor’s Office services held on March 13, Ion Ceban seemed to be irritated by many news items, reports, and investigations published or broadcast by the press, which he described as “lies,” “stop-gap measures,” “nonsense,” and “fragrant manipulation.” Besides, he made the connection between the “politically committed” press and the local election campaign, claiming that the media covering the problems in the capital would be used as a tool in this “campaign trail.”

The media NGOs signed a statement dispraising the mayor’s “improper behavior.” According to them, the Law on Freedom of Expression guarantees any person, including journalists, the right to criticize the state and the public authorities. The media NGOs also disapprove of the practice of using administrative resources, including public money and the authorities’ meeting time, for attacks and threats against journalists. “We would like to bring to the notice of the mayor of Chisinau that the provisions of the Law on Freedom of Expression (Art. 19) clearly stipulate that the state and the public authorities cannot file defamation lawsuits and cannot be protected against alleged defamatory statements by criminal or contraventional legislation,” the statement reads.

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