Moldovan reporters harassed by Russian soldiers on border with Transnistria

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the heavy-handed treatment that two Moldovan journalists received from Russian soldiers in the buffer zone between Moldova and the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria and calls on the authorities to guarantee reporters’ safety in this so-called Security Zone.

While reporting for Moldova’s privately-owned TV8 channel on 21 July, Viorica Tataru and Andrei Captarenco were manhandled by members of the Russian peace-keeping force as they were leaving the buffer zone, where they had been filming newly-erected checkpoints.

The soldiers told them it was forbidden to film the checkpoints and forcibly took Tataru’s mobile phone in order to delete her video footage. They then prevented the two reporters from taking the ferry across the Dniester River in order to return to Moldova. It was only when the Moldovan police arrived an hour later that they were able to take the ferry.

Tataru and Captarenco have filed a formal complaint, accusing the Russian soldiers of violating their right to work and move about, and temporarily depriving them of their equipment.

“Nothing justifies the use of violence against journalists reporting in the field,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and  Central Asia desk. “This intimidation attempt is unacceptable and violated article 20 of Moldova’s press law. We call on the Moldovan authorities and the Joint Control Commission to conduct a transparent investigation into this aggressive detention and to ensure that journalists are protected.”

An unresolved border conflict has existed between Moldova and Transnistria, a region of roughly 4,000 sq. km, ever since it broke away from Moldova with Russian support in 1992. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Transnistria has established 37 illegal checkpoints in the so-called Security Zone along the border.

Moldova is ranked 91st out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 23.07.2020