Russia denounces Moldova's ban of TV channels as 'political censorship'

Shor, in exile in Israel, has backed protests in Chisinau demanding that Sandu's government resign.

 Servicemen of pro-Russian militia hoist flags of Russia and the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) outside the Oschad bank branch in Stanytsia Luhanska in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)
Servicemen of pro-Russian militia hoist flags of Russia and the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) outside the Oschad bank branch in Stanytsia Luhanska in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

Russia on Saturday denounced a decision by neighboring Moldova to temporarily ban six television channels as "political censorship."

The small ex-Soviet state of Moldova accused the channels of airing "incorrect information" about the country and Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

The channels - some of which broadcast in Moldovan and some in Russian - are closely tied to politician and businessman Ilan Shor, who fled the country in 2019 after the election of pro-Western President Maia Sandu.

Shor, in exile in Israel, has backed protests in Chisinau demanding that Sandu's government resign.

"We consider this ban as an unprecedented act of political censorship, as an abuse on the principle of media pluralism and a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of access to information, to which the political leadership of the Republic regularly declares its adherence," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova (credit: GLEB GARANICH / REUTERS)Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova (credit: GLEB GARANICH / REUTERS)

"In light of the unprecedented consequences of its implementation for the Russian-speaking part of the country's population, we also qualify it as a cynical infringement of the rights of national minorities."

"We consider this ban as an unprecedented act of political censorship, as an abuse on the principle of media pluralism and a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of access to information, to which the political leadership of the Republic regularly declares its adherence."

Maria Zakharova

Ban to start on Monday

The ban will start on Monday and last for the duration of a state of emergency that Moldova declared after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 on what Moscow calls a "special military operation" to "denazify" the country.