Moldova’s Decision to Silence Pro-Russian TV Channels Questioned – BalkanInsight

The Centre for Independent Journalism in Moldova asked the authorities on Monday to explain their decision to suspend the broadcasting licenses for six pro-Russian TV stations that they allege have been spreading Moscow’s propaganda and disinformation.

The media NGO believes that the authorities should provide “extensive explanations” about Moldova’s Commission for Emergency Situations’ decision on December 16 to suspend the licences of the six stations – Primul in Moldova, RTR Moldova, Accent TV, NTV Moldova, TV6 and Orhei TV.

The Primul in Moldova TV station said the arguments used by the Commission for Emergency Situations for shutting it down were invalid, and the decision to suspend the broadcasting licences represents an abuse of power.

“Primul in Moldova has appealed to the international community to give a fair assessment of the crimes committed by the Chisinau authorities concerning the mass media in the country,” the station said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The first four TV stations on the list are close to Socialist Party, which is de facto led by the Moldova’s former pro-Russian president Igor Dodon, and even have Russian citizens as owners.

The final two are owned by fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor, who is currently organising paid anti-government protests in Chisinau, according to the Moldovan investigative authorities who are building a case against him.

President Maia Sandu said the decision was based on the Audiovisual Council’s findings after its monitoring of the stations showed that they were not broadcasting correct information about the events in the country and about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“[The Audiovisual Council’s] decision is to protect the national information space and prevent disinformation,” said Sandu.

The head of state emphasised that, in the uncertain situation in which Moldova is, “it is essential to prevent any attempt to destabilise the country.”

Moldova is one of the less resilient ex-Soviet states to Russian propaganda. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, pro-Russian media have been reporting the ongoing war using the Kremlin’s narratives about a ‘special military operation’ to ‘denazify’ Ukraine.

Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita said that the suspended channels presented “in a tendentious and manipulative way the events in our country but also those related to the war in Ukraine” and “have seriously and repeatedly violated the Audiovisual Services Code”.

“After almost 300 days of the war in Ukraine, the propaganda in Moldova has not stopped. It has intensified. An energy war is being waged against our country, and an information war. We have the responsibility and even the obligation to protect our citizens,” Gavrilita said.

She added that the decision aims to eliminate manipulation and propaganda “particularly in the difficult period we are going through”.

But former President Dodon criticised the decision and blamed Sandu for it.

“She is destroying democracy, justice, the opposition and the power of the fourth estate – the media,” Dodon wrote on his Facebook page.

his article first appeared in BalkanInsight.

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