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Moldova28 April 2005

Head of Christian-democratic party hounds the independent press

Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern about a populist right wing leader, Yurie Rosca, who has been laying repeated legal cases against the country’s independent media.

Rosca, leader of the Christian-Democrat People’s Party (CDPP) and recently elected deputy speaker of the Moldovan parliament, laid a complaint on 25 April against the tri-weekly Timpul de dimineata for damaging his "honour, dignity and professional reputation" and claiming 50,000 euros damages.

"The legal cases brought by Iurie Rosca against the independent press constitute a definite threat to press freedom in the country," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"Moldovan leaders must not get into the habit of laying complaints as soon as a media is critical of the government. The country has over the last few months demonstrated its willingness to come into line with the European Union and consequently its standards in legal and press matters.

"The parliamentary deputy speaker should therefore stop systematically laying complaints against newspapers that are critical of him," it said.

His latest complained related to an article in the 6 April edition of Timpul de dimineata (a popular Romanian-language newspaper with a circulation of 19,000) headlined "Iurie Rosca and Oleg Serebrian", that quoted from the "Black book on corruption". This book, that openly denigrates the electoral coalition "Democratic Moldova" to which Oleg Serebrian belongs, was printed, according to Timpul, by Prag 3, a publishing house owned by Iurie Rosca. This was denied by Rosca who accused the paper of defamation.

The previous week, Rosca brought a complaint against the Jurnal de Chisinau (Romanian-language bi-weekly, circulation 10,000) also for injuring his "honour and dignity". He objected to an editorial written by Val Butnaru on 29 March headlined, "The king is naked".

The journalist referred to a certain "Master" and his political coat-turning for electoral ends. Rosca considered it was aimed at him. His party and his newspaper Flux was in opposition in recent years but in March, after the elections, he struck a deal with the communist party, which allowed him to also become deputy speaker of parliament.

Val Butnaru had said, in another editorial, that he was not just referring to Rosca but the "Master", a popular Moldovan figure, represented politicians in general. This did not stop Rosca from claiming around 62,000 euros in damages from the Journal de Chisinau and nearly 31,000 euros from Val Butnaru.

A political study carried out by five local press freedom NGOs, found that Rosca was the Moldovan politician who had brought the most legal cases against the media, with no fewer than a dozen complaints laid between 1998 and 2003 for "insulting his honour and dignity".




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