Policemen storm Nisporeni TV station

A group of policemen raided the Nisporeni-based Albasat TV station on Wednesday morning, without any apparent reason, Info-Prim Neo reports.
Info-Prim Neo, 25 February 2009, 18:44

2009-02-25/12:42/ Chisinau (IPN) The policemen failed to produce any warrant when requested by the channel's manager, Efim Bardan.

Natalia Pintilie, a presenter at Albasat, has told Info-Prim Neo that three policemen, who identified themselves as officers of the Interior Ministry's special missions department, rushed into the station's studio, refusing to explain their reasons, and demanded all the documentation of the channel. The presenter said the policemen shouted at the employees, forced them out of their offices and threatened to arrest them.

Later, Natalia and her husband Mihai Pintilie, who works at the channel as an accountant, were driven to the Nisporeni Police Commissariat, where the man was detained for one hour.

The channel's management refused to present the requested papers in the absence of a warrant and of a lawyer.

Contacted by Info-Prim Neo, Interior Ministry's spokesperson Ala Meleca said she wasn't informed of the case, but promised to make a statement on the case later.

Euronova Media Grup considers Albasat TV has been searched after PCRM's command

2009-02-25/17:11/ Chisinau (IPN) Euronova Media Grup considers that the search on its subsidiary Albasat TV from Nisporeni is a political command of the Communists Party (PCRM) and is related to the parliamentary elections, Info-Prim Neo reports.

In a pres release, Euronova Media Grup states "only the PCRM which totally controls the Moldova Interior Ministry can set up an ad-hoc commando to attack a media outlet without taking care of the legality of the action." "Lots of events of this kind have happened during those eight years of Communist rule. Let's remember that in 2002, following a political command, the radio Vocea Basarabiei was closed, and had its quarters in Nisporeni then," reads the release.

According to the company, the case in Nisporeni is out of common since it occurs in the full swing of the election race, when everybody is watching this event of crucial importance for Moldova's fate. "The attack on Albasat TV is a proof that the Communist authorities feel they lose their ground. They meet the voters' reluctance more and more openly. They are losing control and are ready to resort to intimidation against the media ready to hold electoral debates in conformity with the democratic rules in journalism and do not act secretly as the media controlled by the Communists and their allies," Euronova Media Grup maintains.

Media NGOs have condemned the police's actions. Petru Macovei, the executive director of the Independent Press Association (IPA), has told media this case is one abuse of the police more against the mass-media. He has called on Interior minister Gheorghe Papuc to urgently probe the situation, because in the middle of the election campaign, it shows itself as very unfavorable for the Moldovan democracy. Also an expert with the Independent Journalism Center, Nicolae Negru, considers the search on Albasat TV is related to the election campaign. "this way the autho rities try to scare mass-media criticizing the present power," Nicolae Negru says.

In the morning of February 25, a team of policemen raided the quarters of Albasat TV from Nisporeni stating they were on a checkup mission. As they produced not authorizing papers, the policemen insisted that the administration should present accountancy papers and other documents. Bookkeeper Mihai Pintilie and editor Natalia Pintilie were barred from leaving the quarters for several hours.

Not having any authorization, the police searched offices, took out hard disks. Several hours later the police left the quarters without presenting any conclusions.

UPDATE When asked by Info-Prim Neo, the Interior Ministry's spokeswoman Ala Meleca has said the petition of a citizen was the reason for the verification on the mentioned TV station. The citizen notified the police he was hired illegally by the station. The police raided the station to search for labor-relate d documents. Ala Meleca states the police did not search, ill-treat or intimidate Albasat TV's employees. They say the employees refused to cooperate with the police, a reason why they will be judged by the Nisporeni Court on February 26.