98 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 34,000 sq. km.
Head of state: Vladimir Voronin, since 2001
The media landscape of the former Bessarabia is rich and vibrant despite a limited internal market. The international community hailed as a sign of progress parliament’s adoption in 2006 of a new broadcast law following heated discussions between the opposition and the communist party. But this new legal framework has not put an end to a debate over the public media’s editorial line. Moldova 1 television, a subsidiary of TeleRadio Moldova, continues to give more air time to the ruling party and in particular to news about the president, prime minister and parliament than to any other political players.
Publications quickly run into difficulties if they expose corruption, particularly among the leadership, or reveal the source of their income. This is what happened to the popular Jurnal de Chisinau in April 2009 when it prepared to publish a series of articles about the personal fortune of President Voronin. The edition carrying the first article, devoted to the president’s son, never reached the newsstands because the state-controlled printers claimed that technical problems prevented them from printing the issue.
Political tensions that followed opposition claims of rigging in legislative elections on 5 April 2009 had a direct impact on the press, which was targeted by demonstrators and worse still treated as an enemy by the security forces. Editor of the Jurnal de Chisinau was arrested and held for several hours, while Oleg Brega, a journalist on Jurnaltv belonging to the same group as Jurnal de Chisinau, was assaulted by several people on 8 April. The following day he and a colleague were arrested and held throughout the day and his apartment was searched. Romanian media and journalists were especially targeted. Around 20 of them, working either for Romanian press or for international media such as AFP, Reuters, AP and others were prevented from entering the country without any valid reason being given. Others were expelled. Doru Dendiu working for Romanian public television TVR was even arrested while he was about to appear on the Romanian lunchtime news and was told a few days later that his accreditation was being withdrawn. A team working for Realitatae TV was detained for several hours at the interior ministry. A young Moldovan fixer, resident in France, who helped some Swedish journalists with a report, was brutalised by Moldovan police. Independent news websites, but also social networking sites such as Facebook, Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte and others, were blocked for several days.