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US ambassador criticizes Moldova’s ban on Russian broadcasts

"This violates media freedom," the diplomat said

CHISINAU, February 15. /TASS/. US Ambassador to Moldova James Pettit criticized on Thursday the decision to ban Russian news broadcasts in the country.

"This violates media freedom," Moldova’s NTV-Moldova television channel cited the US diplomat as saying on Thursday. He said, however, that the US backed the goal pursued by the law banning Russian propaganda, but urged to use democratic means to fight it.

"I would encourage the public to analyze more and to compare. I, for one, find it useful to watch CNN and Fox News, as it helps people to assess what is truth and what is falsehood," the diplomat explained. He said Russia’s RT TV channel was broadcast in the US, without mentioning, however, the pressure on RT from the US authorities.

Russia’s RT America was put on the US list of foreign agents whereas no such demands were put forth to other foreign media, such as British BBC, Chinese CCTV, French France 24 TV.

James Pettit expressed concern over monopolization of TV space in Moldova itself. Access to television is concentrated in the hands of a small group of people, which is bad, he said. A very important element of democracy disappears without independent printed media, the diplomat explained.

The top diplomat also said he was disappointed that many Moldovan citizens are looking to Russia despite active financial support from the US. Most Moldovan nationals believe that Europe is good, but many Moldovans, disappointed by the central authorities, also become disillusioned with the European trajectory, he said.

President against the ban

The law on fight against foreign propaganda, passed by the parliament at the end of 2017, has taken legal effect this week. Falling under the ban are news and newsmagazines with military and political subject matter produced in the countries that did not ratify the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, including Russia.

The ban concerns, first and foremost, the shows produced by Russian channels. The Moldovan broadcasters who violate the ban will face penalties of up to $ 4,000 for the first time and up to $ 5,000 for repeated violations.

President Igor Dodon refused to sign the law. He sized up its adoption as an overt attempt on the Moldovan citizens’ freedom of information. After Dodon had declined the document, it was inked by parliament Speaker Andrian Candu with the permission of the Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, surveys suggest that most Moldovans are against this law. The Russian State Duma passed the statement "On inadmissibility of discrimination against Russian media in Moldova," urging the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to assess the document.