Report documents a deteriorating environment for Moldovan civil society

Association

In February 2018, 15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the Republic of Moldova released a report detailing attempts by public figures, civil servants, bloggers and politically-affiliated media outlets to discredit and denigrate NGOs. The report covers incidents from September 2016 to December 2017. Many in the NGO sector are concerned over narrowing civic space and a documented increase in threats, intimidation, harassment and attacks over the last two years. Concerns include excluding NGOs from decision-making processes, accusing the sector of promoting foreign interests, and proposing or passing laws that could potentially harm the space for civil society to operate.  

Peaceful Assembly

Several local officials representing Our Party in the northern Moldovan city of Balti spent the night of 15th January 2018 in City Hall in protest against a "corrupt system", allegedly after the police, Prosecutor's Office and National Anti-Corruption Centre pressured them to not attend a 17th January local council meeting, where the hearing on dismissing the current Balti mayor and leader of Our Party, Renato Usatii, would take place. Usatii, who faces criminal charges, resigned in February 2018 and early local elections will take place in May 2018. 

Expression

Anti-propaganda law

On 24th January 2018, the State Duma of the Russian Federation issued a declaration against discrimination against Russian media in the Republic of Moldova. The declaration was made after Moldova's parliament passed a so-called anti-propaganda law to protect the country's information space against growing concerns over disinformation from Russian media sources. In addition, a group of Moldovan deputies reportedly condemned attacks on national security and accused Russia of interfering in politics. The law was proposed by the Democratic Party and voted on in December 2017; however, President Igor Dodon refused to sign the bill into law. Therefore, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova temporarily suspended Dodon from office so that the law could be signed by Adrian Candu, Acting President of the Republic of Moldova. Since 12th February 2018, news programmes from Russian TV stations broadcast in the Republic of Moldova have been banned and any violators of the law face fines.

Two foreign journalists banned

Moldovan media organisations expressed concerns over a ban on two foreign journalists entering the country in January 2018. On 16th January, Roman Shutov from detector.media news portal in Kyiv, Ukraine was denied entry into the country to participate in a training for journalists. Shutov claimed that the border guards were not convinced by the event agenda and invitation from the U.S. Embassy in Moldova. Irada Zeynalova from NTV station in Russia was sent back to Moscow from Chisinau International Airport on the same day because she did not have the necessary documents needed to attend official events and interview public officials. Zeynalova had planned to interview President Dodon.