Investigative journalists
in Moldova threatened

"You'll be in troubles if to investigate this case!"

For some weeks, Ziarul de Garda (The Guard Newspaper), an independent media from Moldova published a few investigations on some shady firms runed by some Moldovans which try to monopolize the banking system, as well as insurance and aviation fields. Those firms were accused by international experts that they are involved in selling guns, drugs, money laundry from illegal international transactions. After some international investigations there appeared connections between this firms and the greatest gun dealers from the world, as Victor Bout and al Qaeda. Those things are known for Moldovan and foreign media, as well as for Moldovan officials, but reactions are coming now are very strange.

For a few weeks there a many calls to our newsroom related to these cases. People who were suffering from activities of this firms are calling us to say more details and to request more investigative articles. The same time, there are anonymous and "friendly" voices who advice us to give up. "It is true what you write, but it will be better if you leave the topic", "You'll be in troubles if to investigate this case," "Your newspaper will never get where you think," "We know that a colleague of you is going abroad. And we know the rout," — the tide of calls is growing and voices become stronger.

The same time, less and less people agree that their opinion on those cases may be published. Many of them declare that they were told that will be punished if their declaration will appear in media. "They asked from me to sell my shares and I will, even if I don't want, but don't write because I have children and they threatened me," told us one of the shareholders in a prosperous firm of Moldova. On Monday, 21 November, Victor Turcanu, the president of "Victoriabank", one of the most prosperous bank from Moldova, was arrested again, because of some declaration in media about how the shady firms forced shareholders to sell shares. People in Moldova are more and more threatened not to complain to media and to hide the truth.

Everyday our newsroom is visited by people who tell us about injustice in police stations, courts, and about a new from of racket in economic structures, which forces main shareholders of prosperous firms "to sell shares". Some of them tried to ask help of the legal system, but they suffered more injustice and threats. That's why they would like to complain but to remain anonymous because of fear. Journalists in Moldova have to care nowadays a huge load of those anonymous complains, and if they make investigations they have to face threats, they are sued and intimidated. Journalists from "Timpul" , "Jurnal de Chisinau", "Moldavskie Vedomosti" newspapers, from Independent Center for Journalistic Investigations from Moldova had to face different problems because of investigations on corruption. Last Tuesday, 22 November, during an interview with president Voronin, a journalist from PRO TV station told him that media in Moldova is ignored and rejected too much. We confirm by this way that official Moldovan body use not to answer to our questions related to corruption on the high level, women and children and organs trafficking, money washing and guns selling. By the way, Moldovan media is often poisoned by press–releases from police and prosecutor offices about new arrests caused by corruption. After we investigate this "corruption scandals", we discover political arrests, when some officials are accused to receive a bribe as two bottle of champaign, 3 boxes of chocolates or 200 dollars. The same time, firms washing millions of dollars from transporting drugs or guns to Africa were never prosecuted.

Journalistic investigations in Moldova become a very dangerous activity. Less and less journalists accept to do this work, and just a few organizations remain to protect and to promote freedom of media here. We know that nobody may save the media freedom instead of us, but when we cannot do it — we want that the public would know why.

We ask all media organizations to keep an eye on what is happening with investigative journalists in Moldova, because we are not shore they may be protected now from criminal attacks.

With respect, the Guard Team

Ziarul de Garda
Redactia nu poarta raspundere pentru continutul si corectitudinea anunturilor publicitare
Tel: 23-79-84, 079523593