The Republic of Moldova will temporarily ban six television channels for broadcasting „incorrect information” about what is happening in the country and in Russia’s war in Ukraine, Chisinau authorities announced, according to news.ro.
The TV channels will lose their licenses for broadcasting incorrect information when they covered the events in Moldova and the war in Ukraine, the Commission for Extraordinary Situations (CSE) announced. It is about Primul in Moldova, RTR Moldova, Accent TV, NTV Moldova, TV6 and Orhei TV.
The TV channels – some of which broadcast in Romanian and others in Russian – are closely linked to politician and businessman Ilan Şor, who fled the country in 2019 after the election of president Maia Sandu. Şor, in exile in Israel, supported the protests in Chisinau, demanding the resignation of the government.
Among the six TV channels are some of the most popular ones in the Republic of Moldova. Șor owns three of them, two others belong to his close associates, while the sixth is his sympathizer.
The ban will come into effect on Monday, December 19, and will last for the duration of the state of emergency that Moldova declared after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
The state of emergency in the Republic of Moldova, valid for a period of 60 days, has been renewed several times and is set to expire in February 2023.
According to the CSE, „the decision was taken in order to protect the national information space and prevent the risk of disinformation through the spread of false information or attempts to manipulate public opinion, based on the list of natural and legal persons subject to international sanctions”. The Commission for Exceptional Situations also referred to the „multiple findings from the monitoring reports of the Audiovisual Council regarding violations of the Audiovisual Media Services Code of the Republic of Moldova, implicitly the application of sanctions for the lack of correct information in the coverage of national events, but also of the war in Ukraine”.
TV6, one of the TV channels owned by Şor, declared that the commission’s arguments are unfounded and false and denounced „an unprecedented attack on freedom of expression”.
„We appeal to the international community, to the diplomatic body accredited in the Republic of Moldova to give a correct assessment of these crimes in accordance with the standards applied at the international level in order to stop these serious slippages without precedent in the history of the Republic of Moldova”, says a message posted by the TV6 channel on its Facebook page.
President Maia Sandu reacted to the decision of the CSE and showed that it is based on the findings of the Audiovisual Council. „Preserving peace and stability in Moldova is our priority, in the difficult context in which we find ourselves, having a war on the border. And protecting the national information space is an important step for preventing destabilization attempts, set up by people subject to international sanctions. We cannot admit that, in this period full of challenges, the security of the state and the peaceful life of the citizens will be endangered by fugitives who want only one thing – to escape justice”, explained Maia Sandu, read by agora.md.
Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliţa also announced that she supports the decision of the CSE. „These media institutions have seriously and repeatedly violated the Audiovisual Services Code, reflecting in a tendentious and manipulative manner the events in our country, but also those related to the war in Ukraine,” declared Natalia Gavriliţa. „After almost 300 days of war in Ukraine, the propaganda in the Republic of Moldova has not stopped, in fact – it has intensified. In the situation where not only an energy war is being waged against our country, but also an informational one, we have the responsibility and even the obligation to protect our citizens and the country”, explained the head of the government from Chisinau.