Media NGOs stand in solidarity with journalists from Gagauzia, who are subjected to pressure and intimidation by representatives of the local administration, and insist that illegal threats are curbed immediately.
On 22 January 2024, Laf.md made public the fact that journalists of this portal, as well as their colleagues from Nokta.md, face pressure from representatives of the regional authorities, referring to statements by Mihail Vlah, advisor to the Bashkan Evghenia Guțul, responsible for media relations.
In a Facebook live streaming on 12 January, Mihail Vlah calls Nokta.md reporters “corrupt pseudo-journalists” and threatens in the text accompanying the video: “I think the time is coming when they need a punch in the teeth!”.
On 16 January, in another live streaming on the same social network, Mihail Vlah claimed that “there is a grant eater in Gagauzia, the disrespected Mihail Sirkeli”, who allegedly slanders local MPs and the bashkan.
The signatory organizations strongly condemn Mihail Vlah’s unacceptable behavior against the media representatives and point out that such a behavior cannot be tolerated. Media NGOs remind that these are not the only attacks on inconvenient journalists in Gagauzia by representatives of the local administration, and insist that these illegal practices of intimidation be stopped.
We state that under the Law on Freedom of Expression, the state shall guarantee freedom of expression of the media and the intentional unlawful obstruction of the media activity entails criminal liability. At the same time, we stress that the threat of murder or serious injury to bodily integrity or health constitutes an act criminalized by the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova.
We urge the law enforcement authorities of the Republic of Moldova, by virtue of their legal duties, to take note of the deeds committed and to initiate the procedures provided for by law in order to hold accountable the individuals who made the threats.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Association of Electronic Press
MEDIA GUARD Association