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The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office Closed the Criminal Case of Stalking the RISE Moldova Reporter, Liuba Sevciuc, by a ‘Professional Instigator’

20 May 2019
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The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (APO) refused to initiate the criminal prosecution due to the lack of elements of crime in the case of stalking the RISE Moldova reporter Liuba Sevciuc, by a ‘professional instigator’.  In early May, the information was confirmed for RISE Moldova by the interim chief prosecutor of APO, Adriana Betisor. Liuba Sevciuc claims that this case shows that a journalist ‘cannot do his or her job safely in the Republic of Moldova’.

RISE reporters, stalked by ‘instigators’
On 31 October, RISE Moldova published an article reporting that stalking of Liuba Sevciuc started on the next day after the publication of ‘Paradise of the Oligarch investigation, about the villas from abroad of the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), Vlad Plahotniuc.
The information about alleged stalking of the reporter was provided to the RISE Moldova reporters on 28 September, in Chisinau, by a person who called himself Veaceslav Galoi. During the discussions with RISE Moldova journalists, he introduced himself as an undercover agent of the National Anticorruption Center (NAC), stating that he also works for other law enforcement bodies. He claimed that Gheorghe Cavcaliuc, Deputy Director of the General Police Inspectorate, would have ordered to follow the RISE journalists. Galoi told the journalists he had other information, but he would provide it only if he signed a secret collaboration agreement with them.
Previously, the press wrote that he had been involved in several provocations and situations that resulted in the detention of some public officials or business people.
Veaceslav Galoi's name also featured in the scandal with the donations offered by ‘Dufremol’ company to the Action and Solidarity Party. He has not yet provided any public explanations on the facts in which he allegedly was involved.

Police took action after the article was published
Immediately after RISE Moldova published the article concerned, the Police informed that they initiated an investigation to verify this information.
During the same period, NAC representatives denied the presence of such an undercover agent in their structures, and the Press Service conveyed the rejection by Gheorghe Cavcaliuc of the information that he had allegedly ordered the stalking of any journalists.
After RISE Moldova contacted the General Police Inspectorate (GPI) to find out about the progress of the investigation initiated following the publication of the article, the Head of the GPI, Alexandru Pinzari, replied on 31 January 2018 that the notification was transferred to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office according to its competence, in order to obtain the opinion on the lawfulness of the actions of the targeted employees. Pinzari mentioned that this was done because the contents of the article ‘featured the allegedly illegal actions of the Police officers and the employees of the National Anti-Corruption Center who have undertaken a number of special investigative measures in violation of the legal rules’, and that according to the law, the prosecutor controls their lawfulness and the compliance with the law.
 
Why did the prosecutor’s office close the proceeding?
 
At RISE Moldova’s request to the APO, Adriana Betisor informed on 7 May that on 30 November 2018, the criminal proceeding was closed.
APO prosecutor Ruslan Botnaru is the one who ordered to close the criminal proceeding. Botnaru mentioned that during the examination of the criminal proceeding he was informed by the NAC that Veaceslav Galoi did not work in the institution, including as a confidential employee. The GPI also denied that he was an employee or collaborator of the institution.
 
He stated that he could not order the criminal prosecution ‘because the things invoked by Galoi Veaceslav are not confirmed by evidence, information, data that would confirm to some extent the statements of the latter’ and that ‘there is no fact of the crime’.
 
Moreover, the prosecutor reminds that RISE Moldova reporters met with Veaceslav Galoi 33 days before writing about the meeting. ‘During that time the media representatives could notify the criminal prosecution body as per Articles No 262–263 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if they considered that certain illegal actions were carried out by the employees of the MIA and NAC. However, the circumstances of the meeting between the RISE Moldova journalists and Galoi Veacelav have been made public for some reasons and at the moment the criminal prosecution body is unable to carry out special investigative measures in order to establish the reasons and the goal pursued by Galoi Veaceslav within the meeting and discussions with the media representatives’, the prosecutor Ruslan Botnaru argued in favour of the decision.

What does the journalist Liuba Shevciuc think about this case?
Asked by Media-azi.md to comment on the way the law enforcement bodies managed this case, the journalist Liuba Sevciuc stated that the authorities seem to fake the actions. ‘In my opinion, the reaction of the law enforcement bodies was more of an inaction. I thought I’d be called to make statements and explain in details what happened. I suppose the people involved in the stalking had to be heard as well. I think the subject of the notification should have been a different one. Why did the case reach the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office? I cannot explain it to myself. I think the authorities fake their actions, and that’s sad. Because, consequently, you cannot do your job safely in the Republic of Moldova as a journalist’, Liuba Sevciuc answered.
Previously, the journalist said that there would be a person behind Veaceslav Goloi who is disturbed by the RISE Moldova articles.  
The case of the journalist Liuba Sevciuc has also reached the reports of international and local media monitoring organisations. The US Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices for 2018 emphasized the fact that the intimidation and harassment of journalists after articles about politicians are published continues in the Republic of Moldova. The stalking of the RISE Moldova journalist Liuba Sevciuc, one of the authors of the investigation about the property of the Democratic Party leader Vlad Plahotniuc abroad was given an account of in the report. 
The Memorandum on the Freedom of the Press in the Republic of Moldova (3 May 2018 – 3 May 2019) finds that the journalists’ security has dramatically regressed over the last two years. According to the experts, this is due to increased attacks, threats and intimidation against journalists by politicians and civil servants, and to the lack of an adequate response to such cases by public institutions.
Photo source: Rise Moldova