Name: Oleg Brega
Occupation: Filmmaker and freelance-journalist
The RM is known for widespread censorship. Who are the censors? Is Moldovan media manipulated from Moscow or from Chisinau/Tiraspol or both? How does censorship work in real terms?
It’s more an economic censorship, because both journalists and media owners decide to avoid speaking about controversial issues related to their job and business due to poverty. There is also a political pressure from inside the media institution, regardless whether it belongs to a party or a political leader, or whether it’s independent. Free journalists are censored by the courts, police and the prosecution when they criticize the Moldovan government or even the leaders of other countries, like: Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, USA – all governments who give grants to media institutions in Moldova. Censorship also comes from Tiraspol but only for some of the media institutions that depend on them. Most of the time journalists or editors decide to cut information which can damage the press institution, but sometimes the owners intervene or there are pressures from outside.
One instrument to control electronic media is the Coordinating Council for Radio and TV. It organises unfair frequency contests or refuses the broadcasting rights to independent stations.
Do you see any similarities of the current situation, ie censorship of mass media and freedom of expression between Russia and RM? Do you think they are at all linked or do you think they are totally different and separate from each other? Give some examples of similarities with Russia or other former Soviet republics (Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc)
There is definitely a visible link between Russian media owners and the limited freedom of expression in Moldovan, mostly Russian-language media. In my opinion a lot of the Russian press here is coordinated by someone with big political and economic interests. Radio and TV in Moldova are as free as Moscow allows them to be, and there is not much freedom there, it’s more propaganda and manipulation. But media institutions owned by other governments are not much freer: I know of censored persons and informational material within the gagauz media which is pushed by Ankara; Romanian media censored by Bucharest and even American media here censored in the name of the USA (Radio Free Europe, Romanian branch with a studio in Chisinau or media censored directly by the American embassy which gives grants to the local NGO’s and media).
RM is going through a very difficult Post-Communist transition period at all levels – economically, politically, socially and culturally. Do you think this is being manipulated or at all influenced by the irredentist foreign policy of Russia? If so, to what extent?
Moldova is influenced too much from the outside, but not only from the East, the Western powers are also involved here to counterbalance Russia. Therefore, without being a member of the big, global, international organisation, the Republic of Moldova depends more than necessary on foreign political and economic interests. Moscow is the most influential power in Moldova, especially because it always controls the ruling party or parties in this country.
A huge problem of the current status quo in RM is the identity issue along with the national language and history, which are being blatantly and aggressively distorted. Do you think this is a result of internal forces and currents or is it because there might be some Russian pressure orchestrated from the backstage?
I’m sure that Russian influence in the Republic of Moldova remains very strong and powerful, but the most guilty are the local players who promote such ideas, even though this is not based on scientific evidence. This situation was created and supported by Russia, but now it’s speculated by the local forces.
RM is a former USSR Republic. After the collapse of the USSR, RM has proclaimed its independence in 1991. Do you think RM has managed to preserve the independence it had proposed to develop and achieve or do you have a different opinion? If so, what is it?
All former Soviet republics proclaimed their independence in august 1991, and Moldova was one of the last to do this. After that, the USSR officially collapsed in December 1991, but CIS replaced the Soviet empire, and Moldova decided to remain there and not follow the example of the Baltic states. Now the Republic of Moldova is more and more separated from its citizens’ will and it remains as dependent on the external forces as it was before. Nowadays the country is influenced by some other powers in the world but the Russian control is almost absolute: on the cultural, political and economic levels.
What do you think of the current Transnistrian conflict? Is it a genuine misunderstanding between the local political elites or is there an international interest being indirectly addressed by Russia’s expansive tendencies?
This is an artificial problem created by the Kremlin as it did with other separatist republics in the Caucasian region. This problem could be solved by force or by lifting the Russian army from there [Transnistria region] or / and cutting Russian economic influence.
Do you think the Communist Party of Moldova is genuinely interested in adopting European media standards or are they merely trying to obtain European money and assistance while keeping Moldova under Russian control?
None of the parties in Moldova are interested to have a free and independent media, but the Communists are the most determined party to control all or most of the press here, especially now, when elections are on the way and they would like to win a third term in the Parliament. Russian influence is also helping them to stay in power.
It is known that Moldova media is dominated by Russian language newspapers, TV channels and radio stations. However the national language is Romanian. Is Romania providing enough assistance to promote Romanian language media?
Romania does too little to address this issue and what it does is almost wrong. It gives money or other type of support to politically dependent media, compromising Romania’s public image and also the presence and increase in the use of the Romanian language.
Filed under: English