Almost half of the print-run of the latest issue of the satirical weekly Academia Catavencu disappeared from news stands early in the mornings of 24 and 25 November, and were allegedly removed by members of the ruling Democratic Socialist Party (PSD), Reporters Without Borders and the Media Monitoring Agency said today.
The weekly's deputy editor, Liviu Mihaiu, said PSD men were seen visiting news stands throughout the country buying up all the copies they could find. The issue contained "an investigate report that is damaging for the Prime Minister and PSD presidential candidate Adrian Nastase," he said. PSD spokesman Titus Corlatean denied the allegations.
"Academia Catavencu, which is well known for its free-wheeling style, was simply confiscated from its readers," said Reporters Without Borders and the Media Monitoring Agency, a Romanian press freedom organisation.
"This manoeuvre bodes ill for press freedom just a few days before the 28 November presidential elections," the two organisations added.
Agence France-Presse reported that, according to a dozen Bucharest newspaper vendors, "men came early Wednesday morning to buy all of the copies of Academia Catavencu." The weekly was nowhere to be found at noon on 24 November, although copies are usually available until the weekend, AFP said.
This week's issue also contained a supplement consisting of a collection of "homages" to former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu that were published in the 1970s and 1980s and were signed by such senior PSD leaders as Nastase, President Ion Iliescu and Deputy Prime Minister Ioan Talpes.