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Christian Mihr: “In Moldova there are Cases when the Media was used to represent the Interests of some Oligarchs”

27 April 2016
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In an interview for DW Akademie, the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) Germany director Christian Mihr referred to the most important development in the new RWB rating on freedom of the press in 180 countries of the world. According to the RWB Report, the countries with the most freedom of the press are Finland, Holland, and Norway. The worst situation is in Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea. Moldova ranks 76th, having dropped 4 steps from the previous year. The current analysis reflects the situation in 2015, and the score is calculated between 0 and 100, where 0 is the best situation and 100 – the worst.

According to the expert, an important trend that was noticed already last year is the growth of pressure on independent journalists globally. “We see growing autocratic trends in such countries as Egypt, Russia, and Turkey. We see how countries with national conservatory governments, such as Poland and Hungary, try to bring under control state-owned media, as well as other voices in the media. And, also very important, in many countries repressions against journalists increase through invocation of some religious ideologies, security laws, and, like in Turkey, laws prohibiting criticism against the president: such laws have been even used to send journalists to jail.”

In no small measure, the current ranking was also influenced by “concentration of media ownership, the media falling into the hands of oligarchs, which reduces journalists’ independence and transforms media outlets into politico-economic tools used by oligarch owners to pursue their own interests,” the expert said.

As for trends in Moldova, Christian Mihr said: “On the one hand, there is the problem of tensions reverberated in the region by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Moldova, a relatively small country, has to fight propaganda related to this conflict. The second problem in Moldova, and widely spread in the region, is non-transparent ownership in the media. In Moldova there are many cases when the media was used to represent the interests of some oligarchs. For example, Vladimir Plahotniuc, who owns several televisions and is a member of the Moldovan parliament. Moldova ranked 76th in the rating for 2016, which is four positions worse than in 2015.”

Romania ranks 49th, with a slight improvement of three positions. Germany, which ranks 16th, has dropped four steps compared with last year, “mainly because of massive increase of attacks on journalists.” And Bulgaria is a country “where politicians and oligarchs control the majority of the media,” the interview says.

“I think that freedom of the press should be again actively protected in Europe, too, because it is subjected to pressure from many directions. Our conclusion is that a major problem is transparency of media owners. Here, European governments should try to change something, because only thus credibility of the press can be helped. Interests behind the media should be transparent and known in a democratic society,” the RWB representative says.