Media NGOs express their concern about the attempts of Bălţi Mayoralty to hamper the journalists’ work by charging, in a clearly illegal manner, exaggeratedly high fees for the access to public interest information. Media NGOs urge the State Chancellery to step in by repealing the administrative act, invoked by Mayor Nicolai Grigorișin.
On 12 October, TV Nord journalists requested the list of individuals and legal entities that donated money to Bălţi Mayoralty and the amount of donations made. After 29 business days, i.e. in violation of the 15-day legal term for answering to inquiries for information, the supplier replied to the journalists’ inquiry. The reporters were informed about the need to pay MDL 950 in order to receive information about the donations made to the local public budget. The act signed by Nicolai Grigorișin refers to a Decision of Bălţi Mayoralty that establishes the fees for delivery of ‘analytical, summary or new information’.
The signatory organisations recall that the principle of media’s free access to public interest information benefit of constitutional and contravention protection. Limiting the right of access to information is an exceptional derogation, and Bălţi Mayoralty obviously defies the limits of the interference allowed by the law.
We inform the provider that the data requested by TV Nord journalists do not fall into the category of ‘analytical or new information’; moreover, the fee for the latter shall be established in an agreement negotiated and concluded between the inquirer and provider (Article 20(3) of the Law on Access to Information). At the same time, according to Article 20(2) of the Law on Access to Information, a provider may not establish fees that exceed the minimum cost incurred for making copies or sending the reply.
Signatory NGOs condemn the actions of Bălţi Mayoralty for the abusive and unjustified restriction of journalists’ access to public interest information and urges the supplier to end the practices that undermine the scrutiny mechanism of the activity of public authorities.
We urge the territorial Office of the State Chancellery to check the lawfulness of the regulatory act invoked by Mayor of Bălţi mun., Nicolai Grigorișin, and notify directly the administrative court.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
 See point 26 of the Decision of Supreme Court of Justice Plenary Meeting No 1 of 02.04.2007 http://jurisprudenta.csj.md/search_hot_expl.php?id=92;
Decision of Bălți Municipal Council No 17/1 of 10.12.2021 approving the municipal budget of Bălți, Annex 5 https://balti.md/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/reshenie-17-1-10.12.2021-md.pdf.