Europe

Moldova court suspends president over Russian media bill

File photo of Moldovan President Igor Dodon on April 14, 2017 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Moldova is said by many to be divided between pro-EU and pro-Russian factions

Moldova's top court has suspended President Igor Dodon after he vetoed a bill aimed at stopping Russian news broadcasts.

It is the third time that the court has suspended Mr Dodon in three months.

Supporters of the bill say that it would reduce "propaganda" spread by pro-Russian media outlets.

But President Dodon said it was a "blatant act of encroachment on freedom of information."

Moldova has long been caught in a political tug-of-war between Russia and the European Union (EU).

The "anti-propaganda" bill proposes prohibiting rebroadcasts of Russian TV news programmes and introducing hefty fines for organisations that fail to comply.

Some experts say the country is embroiled in an "information war" between pro-EU and pro-Russian factions.

While the president is from the pro-Russian camp, parliament and the coalition government of Prime Minister Pavel Filip are controlled by parties from the pro-EU camp.

In a statement on his Facebook page after Friday's ruling, Mr Dodon attacked the bill as "censorship based on double standards" and "an encroachment on Moldovan citizens' freedom of information".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Here Mr Dodon is seen meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in October

In October, Mr Dodon was suspended by the top court over his refusal to appoint the coalition's choice of defence minister.

On Tuesday, the court suspended him again after he refused to appoint six new members to the country's cabinet.

On both previous occasions that Mr Dodon was suspended, the constitutional court gave the parliamentary speaker, Andrian Candu, the power to pass disputed bills.

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