Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 22
Political Influences: 23
Economic Pressures: 18
Total Score: 63

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 68
Religious Groups: Orthodox (98 percent), Jewish (1.5 percent), other [including Baptist] (0.5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Moldovan/Romanian (64 percent), Ukrainian (13.8 percent, Russian (13 percent), Bulgarian (2 percent), Jewish (1.5 percent), other [including Gaguauz] (5.7 percent)
Capital: Chisinau

Status change explanation: Moldova's rating changed from Partly Free to Not Free due to the enactment of restrictive new media laws.

Press freedom in Moldova deteriorated in 2003 as government authorities maintained tight control over national broadcast media while at the same time intensifying pressure on independent print media. Article 32 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the press. However, existing legislation prohibits insults against the state and defamation of senior government officials. These provisions have allowed for a multitude of lawsuits against journalists in the dozen years since independence, and self-censorship is common. The new civil and criminal codes, which went into effect in January, contain still harsher penalties for libel, including prison sentences of up to five years. In March, a new Law on Combating Extremism was enacted, providing the government with another possible tool of media repression. The majority of print and broadcast media outlets are financed directly or indirectly by various political or ethnic interests. The state-run television station, Moldova 1, is the only station with national reach. Government efforts to strengthen the heretofore-nominal independence of the formerly state-run Teleradio Moldova, catalyzed by international and employee pressure, have not produced clear results. Since the beginning of 2003, direct and indirect pressure on Moldovan journalists has intensified. Transparency in media ownership is generally lacking, and Russian-language media receive a disproportionate share of advertising revenue vis-a-vis the Romanian-language press.

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