Memorandum on press freedom in Moldova: the pandemic, political battles, energy crisis and war have caused real ‘earthquakes’ in the media

The Independent Journalism Center of the Republic of Moldova, together with six other media NGOs, report that over the past year press freedom in the Republic of Moldova has been challenged continuously. The legal framework evolved insufficiently to foster press development, and journalists continued to face threats and intimidation, while carrying out their duties of informing people about events of public interest. The conclusions were included in the Memorandum on the Freedom of the Press in the Republic of Moldova for the period of 3 May 2021 – 3 May 2022, a document released on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

The Memorandum reviews issues related to (in)security of the country’s information space, access to information, security of journalists, poor law enforcement or financial difficulties that have affected the independent press over the past year.

This year, in the context of World Press Freedom Day, the organisations that signed the Memorandum expressed their solidarity with journalists covering the war launched by the Russian Federation in Ukraine and their deep regret for the plenty of media professionals who lost their lives due to the war crimes committed by the aggressor state.

The Memorandum reveals that financial sustainability remained a challenge for media outlets. ‘Politically affiliated holdings, resulting from the unhealthy combination of business, politics and the press, have continued their slavish editorial policy, and this mix of interests is still threatening the press freedom,’ the document states.  The post-election period was marked by the regrouping of political forces. After the elections, the relative political stability started to erode against the backdrop of the pandemic and energy crises, and the tense situation caused by the war in the neighbouring state.

The Memorandum identified the pandemic, electoral and political ‘battles’, the energy sector crisis and Russia’s war against Ukraine as the main events that caused real ‘earthquakes’ in the country’s media space. ‘The vaccination campaign against COVID-19, energy crisis and military aggression made their way on the list of favourite traditional topics for falsehoods and disinformation’.

In this context, the document states that the country’s information space is still subjected to major security risks, being flooded with foreign media products, especially from the Russian Federation. According to the Memorandum, the effects of Russian systemic disinformation are difficult to fight, and the legislator’s efforts to curb the spreading of false information have not yet produced tangible results.

The Memorandum includes a number of recommendations for Government and Parliament that, if implemented, would help protect and encourage free media according to principles of a democratic society. The recommendations include, inter alia, to improve the decision-making process of the Broadcasting Council in order to protect the audience from war-related propaganda, without affecting press freedom; to strengthen the institutional capacities and professional skills of fighting propaganda, disinformation and fakes; to improve the law on access to information, ensure fair and uniform enforcement of the law and reduce the political influence on media activity by broadening the independent press sector; to implement the public legal and economic policy aimed at ensuring that media outlets operate under conditions of fair and transparent competition.


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