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Moldova suspends six TV channels over Russia-Ukraine war coverage

The Moldovan authorities allege that the channels have broadcast misinformation and inaccurate coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Moldova has suspended the broadcasting licenses of six television channels, accusing them of disinformation, inaccurate coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine and “attempts to manipulate public opinion,” according to authorities.

Moldova’s Commission for Exceptional Situations, which was established after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, announced on Friday night that the licenses of First in Moldova, RTR Moldova, Accent TV, NTV Moldova, TV6 and Orhei TV channels would be revoked. .

The decision to suspend the channels was made after the Moldovan Audiovisual Council found a “lack of correct information in the coverage of national events, but also of the war in Ukraine”. He also said the suspensions are aimed at “preventing the risk of misinformation… or attempts to manipulate public opinion.”

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Four of the six suspended channels – First in Moldova, RTR Moldova, NTV Moldova and TV6 – regularly broadcast programs from Russian TV channels that the European Council banned on Friday as part of a new wave of sanctions against Russia.

The EU Council’s decision to ban Russian broadcasters was based on the “direct or indirect control of the leadership of the Russian Federation and has been used by (the) latter for its continuous and concerted disinformation and war propaganda actions.” .

TV6, one of the suspended channels, called the suspension “totally unfounded” and “an unprecedented attack on freedom of expression, editorial freedom (and) the freedom of journalists.”

The commission’s argument “is not only totally unfounded but also frankly false,” the channel said in a statement posted on Facebook.

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Some of the channels are owned by people close to Ilan Shor, a fugitive Moldovan businessman who leads the Russia-friendly Shor Party. The party recently organized large protests in the capital against the pro-Western government.

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Moldovan President Maia Sandu welcomed the decision, saying they are “an important step to prevent attempts to destabilize” the country.

“We cannot accept that in this challenging period, the security of the State and the peaceful life of citizens are threatened by fugitives who only want one thing: to escape justice,” he said in a statement.

The UK last week added Shor to an international sanctions list, as he has been implicated in a billion-dollar bank fraud incident and accused of bribing to secure his position as director of a Moldovan bank in 2014. The US State Department also recently imposed sanctions. in Shor for working for Russian interests.

The former Soviet country has been battling skyrocketing inflation and an energy crisis that includes power cuts after Moscow attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure to which Moldova’s systems remain connected.

The war in Ukraine has been sensitive for neighboring Moldova, but especially for the Russian-backed breakaway state of Transnistria, which is internationally recognized as part of Moldova but hosts Russian troops. The breakaway territory stretches 400 kilometers (250 miles) along the border with southwestern Ukraine, where most residents identify as Russian.

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