The Russian factor impact on the informational space of the Republic of Moldova. APE. 30.08.2009.

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**Excerpt from the radio program Moldovan Foreign Policy Debates” broadcasted on Radio Vocea Basarabiei, on August 30, and produced by the Foreign Policy Association (APE) in collaboration with Imedia News and Analysis Agency and with the assistance of the German Foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). The broadcast is aired on Radio Vocea Basarabiei every Sunday.

Corneliu RUSNAC, journalist Imedia: How does Russian influences in the media, informational space manifest itself and what could be the consequences of this kind of influence for the national security of the Republic of Moldova? And what should the Republic of Moldova do in order to assure its media security, Mr. Cristal?

Oleg Cristal, Expert of the Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT): I have launched, some time ago, an idea which apparently is not very popular and I have even been attacked rather strongly. I think that the Ukraine did, it did well when the government prohibited the broadcast of Russian television channels on the territory of the Ukraine, and however, I also believe that they have exaggerated in the case of cable networks. In the Republic of Moldova we have four state frequencies, foe the moment they broadcast three television channels, out of which two are foreign. One is from the Russian Federation and the other one from Romania. Both countries have important interests in the Republic of Moldova, and if we want to keep our sovereignty, we should keep track of the informational security, because these days conventional wars go into history, nowadays there are first of all informational and economic wars. Thus, it remains to be decided, do we keep on the state frequencies two foreign channels or not. Besides these frequencies there are numerous channels broadcasted regionally, TV and radio channels or cable ones, well, through cable or satellite every citizen decides what television channels to watch. […]

Oazu Nantoi, Expert for the Institute of Public Policies (IPP): In this sense I recall my experience when I was in Israel a few years ago in a visit to some family friends, as usual, when the mistress was getting everything ready in the kitchen, I was left in front of the TV with more than two hundred channels out of which about fifty were Arab. This was in Israel, which has been in a state of war from its formation, if I am not mistaken in 1948, because I am the same age with Israel. Thus, this is one approach. We regret that citizens of the Republic of Moldova are being manipulated by foreign media. And indeed, here we had the war in Georgia in August 2008. In October 2008 IPP from Moldova produced a poll in which people were asked who was responsible for the conflict between Russia and Georgia. 20% of the respondents, I might be wrong, I cite from memory, thus, 20% declared that Russia was to blame, 32% declared that it was Georgias fault, about 10% declared it was the USA who was responsible, then came NATO and Abkhazia and I dont know who else. Therefore, it is indeed the case, as Mr. Cristal just said, nowadays we are constantly without knowing it subjects of informational warfare. I remember how the CNN channel reflected the beginning of the operations in Yugoslavia in 1998 and the war in Georgia, how the websites were blocked and how difficult it was to find alternative sources of information. But I would like to mention another thing here, I am a taxpayer, I pay money to the budget of the Republic of Moldova and in return I am offered the junk called Public National Broadcasting Company Teleradio Moldova”.

Well, we cannot close, prohibit the access of electromagnetic waves of the channels we do not like, someone does not like Romania, others do not like Russia, I could have some objections towards the Ukraine where I was born, but that is, we live in a world of competition including in the informational sphere. I have no illusions about the potential of the society, so that the Moldovan state could compete with the US in the economic area, but we must have a national public television channel which would offer an alternative to the Moldovan citizen: what happens in Transnistria, what happens in the relation between Comrat and Chisinau, what is going on in the relation between Chisinau and Bucharest, why there are so many unresolved problems during the last 20 years between two neighboring countries like the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, etc. In such circumstances, I could consider that we have done our homework. We come with our position, with our view, with our interpretation of different events that touch upon our national interests. But, yes, there is a problem with the state in the process of its building as is the Ukraine, as is the Republic of Moldova, how should they position themselves in regards to the informational sources of the former metropolis, yes?, to make it more precise, that treat the CIS area by double standards, as a kind of unaccomplished states, with a degree of sovereignty determines by the Kremlin. This is the problem.

But it is the first part of the problem; I see that we should have here open and competitive mass media, and the citizen should have access to them, thing that we lack. And after that, we should have the moral right to think well, whom we restrict access to our informational market. Well, a la guerre comme a la guerre” (at war like at war).

Radu Vrabie, Expert of the Foreign Policy Association (APE): I am not a specialist in mass media; still, I would say that we have a law stating that we should have 70% of local product, which makes however, instead of doing what Mr. Nantoi said, a local public television that would be an alternative source of information, if does in fact destroy other foreign television channels that we have, because these local programs implemented now and the re-transmitted ones, in fact I do not know, I dont think they enjoy any popularity and nobody watches local products. Another aspect, besides what my colleagues have just mentioned, is the fact that we not only are under the influence of Russian mass media, we are in general within a Russian information space just like in many other aspects of daily life, entertainment, I do not know how else to call it. Cinemas, discos, well, night clubs, malls are places were Russian language is mostly spoken. And I believe that indeed the government of the Republic of Moldova could pay more attention to this issue in order to change a little bit the situation, because many times it is very hard to get to watch a movie in the mother tongue, the Romanian language. As for the television, coming back to TV, it is very good that there are many channels, but it is sad that certain foreign television channels have disappeared, which when present could have been compared. Now we do not have. And besides the fact that we need public television, local television in general, we need foreign televisions, western, in order to be able from the variety of information, to make certain conclusions.