Attacks on Moldovan Journalists in 2020: the State Authorities’ Representatives Attack Most Frequently
The International Justice for Journalists Foundation, based in London, UK, has released the Report on Post-Soviet Media Attacks in 2020. The report includes relevant data and information on physical attacks. and non-physical on the collaborators of media institutions from 12 countries in the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic States. The partner of the Justice for Journalists Foundation in Moldova is the Independent Press Association.
The report covers three main types of attacks on media workers:
Physical attacks and threats to life, liberty, and health;
Non-physical and/or cyber-attacks and threats;
Attacks with the application of legal and/or economic mechanisms.
In 2020, the Justice for Journalists Foundation established a new category – hybrid attacks, to more accurately reflect combined attacks against media workers.
The authors of the report note on the situation in Moldova for 2020:
68 attacks/threats against employees of media outlets, the majority (49) being non-physical and/or cyber-attacks and threats, including discrediting campaigns, disseminating slander in relation to the media or media employees, illegal obstruction of journalistic activity/lack of access to information, harassment, intimidation, exerting pressure, threats of violence, attacks on social networks (for comparison: in 2017 33 attacks were reported, in 2018 – 64 cases, in 2019 – 62 cases).
In three of the five cases of physical attacks on media employees in 2020, these are physical attacks and threats to the life, freedom, and health of journalists who covered the protests. Four physical attacks were committed by collaborators of the State Protection and Guard Service, police and Russian military deployed in the Transnistrian region.
The main source of non-physical attacks/threats against media workers were representatives of the authorities (82 percent of cases), including politicians, members of Parliament, President of Moldova Igor Dodon (until 15 November 2020), other persons with a public office at central and local/regional level.
Accusations of slander, outrage, and damage to reputation are the most common types of legal attacks on journalists and media employees in Moldova.
In 2020, they were subjected to attacks/threats by employees or newsrooms of 22 media institutions, as well as media NGOs. Most attacks were recorded in relation to the TV8 TV station (13 cases), Ziarul de Gardă (11 cases), the PRO TV Chișinău television station (8 cases), and the regional portal Nordnews.md (5 cases).
The Independent Press Association estimates that some attacks and threats are not made public and are not covered in the media, as many journalists believe that they are attacked in virtual space and non-physical threats are an inevitable part of their professional activity and therefore do not report them.