The revocation of the channels’ license was not initiated by a court decision or any specific violation. Enough was the opinion of the Moldovan government’s Commission for Emergency Situations, which accused the broadcasters of allegedly “incorrect coverage of events in Ukraine.” Trying to justify the act of censorship, Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilitsa referred to “guaranteeing the security of the information space.” Likewise, she affirmed that “the media have seriously and repeatedly violated the Audiovisual Services Code” without providing any facts or proof of such violations.
Moscow views Chisinau’s actions “as an outrage against the principle of media pluralism”
The government also had the support of Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who accused the banned channels of “destabilization attempts”. The same Sandu who came to power under the slogans of freedom and democracy in the republic. The same Sandu who said that “democracy is the main value of her country”, that the citizens of Moldova “regardless of their occupation, language, ethnicity and age” are people of “democracy and freedom”. But all the beautiful words and promises turned out to be “beautiful candy wrappers.” Now Sandu and her government support the introduction of the most severe censorship in the country.
“Among the supporters of the authorities, there are no more intellectuals and reasonable people,” Moldovan opposition leader Ilan Shor reacted to the incident, “when the regime decides, based on blatant falsehoods, to shut the mouth of the press, this is a serious violation of freedom of expression. Shor also drew attention to the fact that the ban on broadcasting Russian-language media was adopted “immediately after the visit of the President of Moldova to the United States.” “And this is not a mere coincidence,” he said. And the former president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, stressed that, “by destroying democracy and justice, destroying the opposition and the fourth estate”, Sandu is implementing a program “posed by foreigners in their own interest”.
Representatives of television channels were shocked by the decision of the authorities. In an interview with RT, the general producer of Channel One in Moldova, Lyudmila Belchenkova, noted that “one day, absolutely illegally, by decision of the Commission for Emergency Situations, those who represented a different point of view stopped broadcasting “. She stressed that the media “fully complied with the law” and yet this did not prevent Chisinau from choosing precisely this path of combating “political dissent”. Now TV channels are filing lawsuits in the courts in the hope that the ban will be lifted. “The European Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, democracy, the rule of law and pluralism have been violated,” Accent TV said in a statement. The media appeal to the embassies of Western countries and ask the international community to “make a fair assessment of these lawlessness.” But on the western front, there are no changes. In European capitals they do not notice, they do not want to notice how freedom of expression is oppressed in Moldova. The European Broadcasting Union, which is more concerned not with the protection of rights and freedoms, but with making money in various song contests, is silent. It is easy to imagine what kind of protests would have sounded if such a thing had happened in Russia, China or Belarus. But Moldova is different…
The Russian Union of Journalists is trying to support TV channels that are in trouble. According to its leader Vladimir Solovyov, the Union intends to call on all international human rights journalistic organizations so that the population of Moldova, “almost half of whom are Russian-speaking people, can watch Russian channels or channels in Russian”. “This is an absolute violation of freedom of expression and freedom of dissemination of information. Of course, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Soloviev stressed.
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, is sure that the Moldovan authorities “have played the role of censors” and have set out to “destroy any form of dissent in the country through methods of totalitarian censorship.” Moscow considers Chisinau’s actions “an outrage against the principle of media pluralism and a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of access to information,” they also point out that the ban on broadcasting Russian-language television channels is “a cynical violation of the rights of national minorities.” “We demand that the relevant international organizations provide a proper assessment of what happened and take all appropriate measures to rectify this unacceptable situation,” said Maria Zakharova.