The press is generally affiliated to the political parties on which it is financially dependent, a situation that did not favour impartial coverage of the elections in February 2001, which saw a victory of the communist party. Since then, the opposition has denounced the institution of a veritable press monopoly. At the end of July parliament adopted a law that ìbans the funding or support of periodical publications by foreign governmentsî, which in effect stifles the opposition press financed by the Romanian government.
Journalists have a very hard time obtaining information on the use of foreign aid, budgetary spending and civil servant salaries and perks. They cannot freely talk about the separatist movement in the Transnistrian region, and things are even worse for the Transnistrian press with opposition to the separatist authorities having almost no news outlets.
A journalist threatened
Writer and journalist Constantin Munteanu, author of political pamphlets, was threatened with death after publishing an article in the 18 November issue of the newspaper, Jurnalul de Chisinau, in which he accused ex-president Petru Lucinschi of embezzlement, blackmail and applying pressure to various political leaders during the latest election campaign. Munteanu received the threats directly from former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicolae Cernomaz, one of the political personalities he cited in his article. Before witnesses, Cernomaz declared that Constantin Munteanu would be liquidated in the coming months because he had dared attack the team of former President Petru Lucinschi. The journalist is afraid for his familyís safety. Despite attempts by several journalists to obtain explanations, the former minister refuses any further comment.
Pressure and obstruction
In early April 2001 at a meeting of the newly elected parliament, communist deputy Alexandru Jdanov called for the closure of the opposition newspaper, Flux.
At the end of July parliament passed a law banning ìthe financing or support of periodical publications by foreign governmentsî. This smothered the opposition press, including such titles as Literatura si arta, Tara and Grasu Natiunii, all funded by the Romanian government.
On 15 November the administration of the separatist region of Transnistria confiscated the entire print-run of the opposition newspaper, Narodovlasti. The truck carrying the 17,000 copies from the printing press in Chisinau to Tiraspol was stopped at the customs station of Tighina by the special services of the separatist republic.
On 25 November Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev, banned press coverage of the examination of the 2002 budget in parliament, thus contravening the press law that gives it free access to parliamentary meetings except when they deal with military or state secrets. No explanations were given for this ban.
On 3 December a tribunal in Chisinau ordered the Russian-language weekly, Kommersant Moldovy, to be shut down for ìanti-constitutional activitiesî. The court referred to the actions engaged by the public prosecutorís office against the newspaper for ìsupporting the separatist regimeî in Transnistria, thereby contravening the Moldovan constitution which states that Moldova is a ìunitary stateî. The weekly periodical published Transnistrian media reports so as to offer its readership access to a plurality of information.