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June 14, 2019 - Updated on June 15, 2019

Journalists must be respected during Moldova’s political crisis

Credit: Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP

Following many attacks on journalists trying to cover demonstrations in Moldova’s continuing political crisis, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the country’s political parties to act responsibly and to respect press freedom.

During the three days of political demonstrations in Chisinau from 7 to 9 June alone, at least 16 journalists were the targets of blows, insults or intimidation or their equipment was smashed. More incidents continue to be reported.

Most of the victims were trying to cover the Democratic Party’s rally outside the interior ministry. The news website Agora.md announced on 8 June that it was suspending live coverage of the event because of the “aggressiveness” it was encountering. Another big rally has been called in Chisinau on 16 June, this time by the ACUM-Socialist Party alliance.

“We urge all the political forces to do what is needed to halt this wave of violence,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “The media must be able to cover demonstrations in order to fulfil their general interest mission. The organizers of the demonstrations and the police have a duty to protect journalists. If they become commonplace, the attacks will impose a climate of censorship and intimidation.”

The result of inconclusive parliamentary elections in February, the political crisis came to a head on 8 June when two rival governments began accusing each other of usurping power.

Against a backdrop of political polarization and oligarch control of the media, Moldova fell ten places in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index and is now ranked 91st out of 180 countries.