Media NGOs condemn threats to Gagauzia journalists

Media non-governmental organizations are supporting the journalists of, a media portal from the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU), who have been attacked and threatened after posting an article about the Head of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Gagauz ATU Executive Committee member Maria Semionova. The article covers the fact that the Department Head is involved in acts of entrepreneurship, in spite of her public official status, by hosting weddings and other events, which is contrary to the Law on Public Functions and the Status of Public Functionaries. A statement signed by media NGOs mentions that, after the article was published, the editorial was subjected to intimidation on social networks and threats of physical aggression made by the official’s husband. The signatory organizations vehemently protest against these attacks, and petition the Prosecutor’s Office to take legal action, IPN reports.

The media NGOs require an immediate reaction to this matter from region leader Irina Vlah, as they deem it scandalous, and request an internal investigation of the behavior of certain persons in public functions, including that of Prime-Deputy Governor Vadim Ceban, who encouraged the intimidation speeches against journalists from The signatories point out that such behavior is in grave infringement of democratic norms and the law, breaching rights granted by law in the exercise of the journalist profession.

Signee organizations also request the investigation and legal assessment of another case that has recently occurred in Cișmichioi. Local councilors have banned the recording of a local Council meeting on July 3, 2018, which is against the national law on decision-making and transparency in the decision-making process. Moreover, Dmitri Ianul, the councillor and journalist who tried to record the meeting, was subjected to threats from other members of the local council.

Mass media NGOs express their worries on these matters and urge the authorities to take action against persons guilty of intimidating journalists and to stop similar occurrences in the future. The statement signatories are: the Association for Independent Press, the Independent Journalism Center, the Association of Independent TV journalists, the Center for Investigative Journalism, the Association of Investigative Reporters and Editorial Security, the “Acces-info” Center, the Association of Electronic Press, and the Press Freedom Committee.

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