Regional event in the city of Bender in the framework of the project: “With humanrights-online.org in the regions and into the future”
Representatives of civil society, students, and teachers from Transnistria participated in the event on 23.08.2018 in Bender. Bender is a city belonging to the unrecognized Republic of Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, PMR), on the right bank of the Dniester. This is the second largest city in Transnistria after Tiraspol.
Bender is a city with a rich history. The famous Bender fortress is located here, where the Swedish King Charles XII hid after his defeat at the Battle of Poltava. Despite the difficult economic situation in Transnistria, the city of Bender remains a major industrial city. Bender was once again the center of an armed conflict between Moldova and Transnistria in 1992, killing more than a thousand people. At that time, the number of refugees was about one hundred thousand people. The work of the website “humanrights-online.org” was presented. During the discussion, several important points that were directly related to the theme of our event were mentioned:
- For example, the question of the arrest and imprisonment of Oleg Khorozhan, a member of the Supreme Council of the PMR, was raised. The circumstances of the indictment against the citizen Khorozhan testify to the political nature of the case. In addition to Khorozhan himself, other people who participated in the peaceful protest were brought into police custody.
- One of the questions raised by some of the participants was the possibility to learn the Romanian language (Latin) of Moldova. This painful issue is addressed to Moldovan citizens living in the Transnistrian Republic of Moldova and experiencing limitations on their mother tongue, because in Transnistria, the Moldovan language is taught only in Cyrillic and is optional.
- All participants of the event were concerned about the severe impoverishment of the population in recent years, the decline in production, and the massive emigration of the active population. In fact, whole sections of the population became impoverished; this is especially true for retirees and people with disabilities, which is a direct violation of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reduced birth and childbirth along with consistently high mortality rates contribute to the extent of natural population loss. The actual depopulation leads to a reduction in the number of workers and the associated negative consequences.
- The problem of the lack of free access to information (or limitation thereof) did not go unnoticed at our event. The fact is that in Transnistria, three official languages are officially established; Russian, Moldavian (based on the Cyrillic alphabet), and Ukrainian. However, according to most of the state websites of Transnistria, including the website of the President, Parliament, the Government and the Ombudsman, there is only one official language – Russian. Obviously, this is a violation of Articles 27 and 29 of the Constitution of the Transnistrian Moldova (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic / PMR).
- The participants of the seminar, especially the representatives of public non-governmental organizations, are very worried about the new NGO law, which was adopted analogously with Russia “on the fight against foreign agents”. The implementation of this law was very painful, especially the prohibition of engagement in political activities of NGOs financed from abroad. Under the new law, the concept of “political activity” includes not only participation in elections and various public actions such as meetings and demonstrations, but also debates, forums, speeches, open appeals to the Transnistrian authorities, and expression on their policies, including in social networks. In other words, any article or statement in defense of civil rights can be equated with political activity.
If a non-governmental organization receives funds from abroad and violates the prohibition, this will be punished first through a warning issued by the public prosecutor and then by liquidation by the court. It should be noted that Transnistrian organizations funded not only by Western countries but also by Russia may be subject to the law.
- Although legislation guarantees the freedom of speech and of the press, in practice these rights are not always respected. For example, the Supreme Council of Transnistria passed a law restricting journalists’ access to their plenary sessions. The media market in Transnistria is controlled by two organizations: the State Communications and Information Service and the media and Sheriff Holding.
Over the course of the year, pressure on independent media increased, and several investigative journalists reported threats following the publication of articles on judges and prominent political figures. In many cases, journalists use self-censorship to avoid conflicts with sponsors or owners of media companies. In Transnistria, journalists avoid criticizing the separatist authorities and their path of independence for fear of repressive measures by the authorities.
The event took place in a good working environment. The participants of the event expressed interest in the information about our project and expressed the desire to participate in the work of our website. In any case, we have seen that they have something to share with the readers of our website.