Romania journalists harassed in Moldova: rights groups

11th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The harassment comes amid a diplomatic crisis between Romania and neighbouring Moldova, after Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin blamed Bucharest for stirring up riots there this week, saying Friday he had "proof" of this.

Bucharest -- Several Romanian and local journalists in Moldova have been detained, expelled or attacked, media rights groups said Friday, urging restraint amid mounting tensions between the two countries.

The latest incident occurred earlier Friday when Moldovan authorities arrested Rodica Mahu, editor of Jurnal de Chisinau newspaper, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

"Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed that the Moldovan authorities have been arresting journalists and even using violence against them," the Paris-based watchdog said in a statement.

"Both Moldovan and Romanian journalists have been affected," it added, calling on Moldovan authorities "to act with care and restraint," allow media to work freely and to avoid stigmatising Romanian journalists.

It also urged the pan-European security body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation, "to take a firm position" on protecting journalists and civil rights.

The appeal comes amid a diplomatic crisis between Romania and neighbouring Moldova, after Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin blamed Bucharest for stirring up riots there this week, saying Friday he had "proof" of this.

Chisinau has also ordered the Romanian ambassador to leave the country.

EU member Bucharest has denounced Moldova's accusations and what it describes as "abuse" against its nationals there.

At least six Romanian television journalists were expelled from Moldova on Thursday, local media said, while RSF said a journalist for Romania's public television channel, Doru Dendiu, was arrested there on Friday.

In Bucharest, the Romanian Press Club also appealed to Moldovan authorities "to insure the well-being of journalists," expressing regret in a statement about Moldova's decision this week to require visas for Romanian visitors.

"This is an intolerable attitude for a country that claims to want to integrate into the European Union," it said.

And in Vienna, the South East Europe Media Organisation criticised Moldovan authorities for limiting press freedom and demanded an inquiry into the obstacles to free expression.

Meanwhile, three Romanian nongovernmental organisations announced they had created a support group for Romanian journalists working in Moldova, whom they said feared being beaten or having their material destroyed.

AFP/Expatica

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