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Moldova court suspends pro-Russia president again

January 5, 2018

Moldova’s Constitutional Court on Friday suspended pro-Moscow President Igor Dodon for the second time this week for vetoing new media laws expected to crack down on Russian broadcasts.

Dodon has refused to sign the legislation, dubbed the “laws on Russian propaganda” by its supporters.

Moldova, a former Soviet republic, is divided between supporters of closer links to Moscow and those — including members of the current government — who want integration into the European Union.

The new laws would ban the broadcasting of “informational, political and military shows of countries that have not signed the European convention of transnational television”.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that the president’s “temporary suspension” is necessary to “unblock” laws approved by parliament so they can enter into force.

Dodon’s opponents appealed to the court after he vetoed the laws for a second time. The court ruled the president had the right to veto a given law “only once”.

It decided that “the president had consciously refused to fulfil his constitutional responsibilities” and announced his “temporary inability to fulfil his duties.”

The media laws will be signed into force by parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu.

Dodon slammed the decision, saying he would “not for a second give in to the regime” — a reference to his pro-Europe rivals.

“The current acts of the ruling regime supported by the Constitutional Court will not be without consequence. After this year’s parliamentary elections, we will need to change a lot. In the government, in parliament and in the Constitutional Court,” the 42 year-old president wrote on his Facebook page.

He has called the media laws “an encroachment on the freedom of Moldovan citizens to receive information.”

Three days ago the court had also temporarily suspended Dodon’s powers over his refusal to approve the appointment of several pro-Europe ministers.

Dodon is on good terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But since May, diplomatic tensions have emerged between the two countries.

Moldova expelled five Russian diplomats without giving a reason and Russia responded with equivalent expulsions.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.