Freedom House seeks proposals from both rising and experienced independent researchers, scholars, and affiliated research analysts, especially those based in Moldova, the Eastern Partnership region, and the European Union, for forward-looking briefs on the following theme:
Combating Fake News and the Repression of Journalists in Transnistria
As the breakaway region of Transnistria prepares for the presidential election in November 2021, the territory’s closely controlled and unfree media continue to support the incumbent and cast doubt on the severity of the epidemiological crisis. In the three years since the publication of a 2018 Media Forward policy brief on Transnistrian media, Transnistria’s primary business conglomerate and its allies in the executive and legislative branches have further cemented their monopoly over the region’s media sector. The dominant Renewal (Obnovleniye) Party tolerates no dissent and strictly limits freedom of speech and assembly. In recent years, the Tiraspol administration sentenced Pridnestrovie Communist Party leaders to prison for organizing unsanctioned demonstrations and criticizing the president in print and digital media. Likewise, the de facto administration has charged activists and regular citizens alike with “incitement to extremism” for “insulting the president” on social media or for writing about the abusive treatment of conscripts in the Transnistrian military. In one particularly noteworthy case in July 2020, police arrested and imprisoned activist Ghenadie Ciorba for leading a peaceful protest against the coronavirus-related closure of the border with Moldova.
Citizens’ rights to receive high quality and accurate information are also severely obstructed by the prominence of disinformation that is promulgated by both internal and external actors. The coronavirus pandemic has only expanded the opportunities for these official and unofficial sources to disseminate unreliable information. Local media outlets and Russian media are among the sources that regularly feed Transnistrian residents disinformation regarding the origins of the virus, the safety of vaccines, and Europe’s treatment of the breakaway territory, thereby significantly impacting the population’s access to life-saving public health information.
This brief would examine the state of Transnistria’s media space during the pandemic and in the run-up to the so-called presidential election in November 2021. Proposals may consider the major problems which impede citizens’ rights to free expression and access to accurate information, as well as the ability of independent journalists to conduct their work safely and effectively. Competitive proposals will offer a set of recommendations to various stakeholders, including diplomats, Moldovan officials, Transnistrian officials, and civil society, with respect to protecting free speech and promoting the integrity and resilience of the Transnistrian information space.
Please submit concept proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 7, 2021, with “Moldova Policy Briefs” in the subject line. The concept proposal should consist of an abstract of no more than 200 words, an outline of the argument and recommendations to be presented, and a CV of the principal researcher or researchers. Organizations may submit proposals for more than one brief. The priority will be given to concept proposals submitted in English.
Contracted researchers will be asked to deliver a draft of 2500-3000 words by November 30, 2021. The brief will be published by Freedom House, with the byline and affiliation of the scholar or researcher. An honorarium of $250 per brief is provided.
The “Media Forward” policy brief series is part of the USAID and UK funded project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) and is implemented by Freedom House, Internews and the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova.