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Moldovan NGOs Condemn Attacks On PRO TV Journalists

Mihai Shambra

Mihai Shambra

Ten nongovernmental organizations in Moldova have released a joint statement condemning attacks against journalists working for PRO TV, an independent station in Moldova, and asking for an independent investigation into the violence.

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), a network of journalists and media executives, also expressed its concern at the violence in a letter sent to Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Grecianii and to Interior Minister Valentin Mejinschi.

A PRO TV cameraman, Mihai Shambra, was beaten on October 8 while filming a protest against the Russian military presence in Moldova, organized by the National Liberal party in front of the Russian Embassy in Chisinau.

Shambra and other journalists say the beating was at the hands of the police.

Security authorities have rejected the accusations and say Shambra was beaten by a group of students who have since confessed to the attack.

The mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, has asked the police to present a report about the events.

Another PRO TV crew was verbally abused in Orhei last week as they were trying to report on a corruption case.

"Recently we've witnessed more and more attacks against the press," Petru Macovei, president of the Association of Independent Press, one of the signatories of the NGO statement, told RFE/RL's Moldova Service. "And that shows us that the attacks are being staged by the authorities before the parliamentary elections in 2009, which have tremendous importance for the future of Moldova.

"All these actions are meant to intimidate the press," he continued, "and I can foresee hard times for journalists who attempt to criticize the authorities. Our only answer can be a call for solidarity of the independent press."

(by Oana Serafim, director of RFE/RL's Moldova Service)

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