March 19, 2002


Vienna, 19 March 2002

Vladimir Voronin
President of theRepublic of Moldova
Office of the President
Bd Stefan cel Mare 154
Republic of Moldova

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, and its affiliate, the South East European Media Organisation (SEEMO), are concerned by the recent intimidation of the Committee for Press Solidarity, comprised of up to 500 protesting Moldavian journalists and media workers of the state-owned company TeleRadio-Moldova.

Since late February, employees of TeleRadio-Moldova have protested media censorship and demanded greater press freedom. The journalists, along with civil society organisations and opposition parties, claim that TeleRadio-Moldova supports the ruling Communist Party of Moldova (PCM). A claim founded on the belief that, since early January, the station has deliberately censored reports on anti-government protests held in the country’s capital, Chisinau.

Although the government has formed a special investigative commission to look into the affair, journalists are fearful that the commission, which is largely composed of individuals loyal to the government, will be biased. In addition, despite a meeting between Your Excellency and the Committee’s representatives to, in your own words, “improve the situation”, you have allegedly accused the journalists of being a “gang paid to organise protest actions by foreign forces”. IPI is therefore is concerned that the government lacks the desire to resolve the issue.

Aside from the governments failure to deal comprehensively with the demands of the journalists, there have been apparent attempts by the managers of TeleRadio-Moldova to silence journalists who have shown solidarity with the protestors. In mid-March, news anchors, editors and producers of the TV news department of the TeleRadio-Moldova were dismissed by the company’s management. Among these were Dinu Rusnac, anchor of the Russian-language newscast, who had aired the protest declarations of his colleagues, and Larisa Manole, who was dismissed under the pretext of having committed a “technical error”. IPI would respectfully ask that you reinstate all of the journalists forthwith.

IPI and SEEMO request that you do everything in your power to ensure that the media workers at TeleRadio-Moldova are allowed to report freely and that the government undertakes to do everything necessary to guarantee freedom of expression in Moldova. Furthermore, we would like to remind you that Moldova is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and is bound by Article 10 which upholds the fundamental principle of freedom of expression.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Johann P. Fritz
IPI Director

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General