New York, April 8, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Moldovan authorities today to allow Romanian journalists to enter Moldova and report on anti-communist rallies that have swept Moldova's capital, Chisinau, since Monday. Approximately 10,000 protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to protest Sunday's parliamentary election, which was won by President Vladimir Voronin's Communist Party.
At least 19 Romanian journalists, working for both domestic and international media outlets, were turned back when trying to fly into Moldova or enter at the Romania-Moldova border crossing points of Galati-Giurgiulesti and Oancea-Cahul Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday, Stefan Candea, vice president of the Bucharest-based Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, told CPJ. Moldovan border guards have given conflicting explanations for refusing the journalists entry.
"We are alarmed by this apparent discrimination against Romanian
journalists," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator
The opposition rallies started peacefully on Monday but turned violent on Tuesday when some of the 10,000 people gathered stormed the Moldovan parliament and the president's office, according to international new reports. The protesters called for new parliamentary elections.
"We tried to cross four different times but each time we were rejected for different stated reasons," Robert Ghement, a Bucharest-based photographer with the Frankfurt-headquartered European Pressphoto Agency who tried to enter Moldova by car late Tuesday and earlier today, told CPJ. Ghement said he was traveling with eight other Romanian journalists working for both local and international outlets.
Ghement, who spoke to CPJ today while on his way back to
Bucharest, said he travels to Moldova multiple times every year on assignments
ranging from sports to politics, and had never had problems entering the
country until now. Romanian citizens--who are also part of the European Union--have
not needed visas to travel to
Candea of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism told
CPJ that the list of reporters refused entry to Moldova includes correspondents
for the Romanian newspapers Evenimentul Zilei, Jurnalul
National, and Ziua; the Romanian
television station Realitatea TV; the Romanian public radio station Radio
Romania Actualitati; the Romanian
news agencies Mediafax, Intact Images, and NewsIn; and the international news
Voronin's Communist Party--in power since 2001--won Sunday's parliamentary elections with 49.9 per cent of the vote, according to official data. International observers said the vote was fair overall, but opposition parties claimed the communists controlled the vote and allowed repeat voting.
The protests underlined a generational and regional gap in