February 11, 2004


Vienna, 11/02/2004

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about recent media developments in Moldova. “What happened in the past weeks is alarming and I hope that the officials in Moldova will respect in future the important position of independent and critical media,” said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General.

According to information before SEEMO, on 3 February 2004, the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (CCA) decided to suspend broadcasting of two critical media, the municipal radio station Radio Antena C and the TV station Euro TV Chisinau.

Also, SEEMO is informed that on 25 January 2004, at a meeting of an opposition party in Chisinau, officials restricted journalistic activities. Valeriu Saharneanu, President of the Moldovan Journalists Union, who gave a speech at the 25 January meeting on the necessity to defend media independence and freedoms, was summoned by the police and charged with disturbing the public order. A date for his trial was immediately established. SEEMO has already reacted to an incident that happened on the same day, when Valeriu Timus, cameraman of the independent station PRO TV, was forced by unknown persons to stop filming the meeting, without any reaction by policemen who were present.

Finally, on 9 February the bank account of the critical Moldovan weekly Timpul was blocked by a court order. This is the result of a decision of a company to sue the weekly for defamation. The trial against the paper should start in some days.

SEEMO expresses its deep concern about all these cases and urges the officials of the Broadcasting Coordinating Council to cancel the decision of the suspensions. SEEMO would also like to remind Your Excellency that freedom of expression is of vital importance for democratic development in any country.