New York, April 16, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities in the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) to immediately release journalist Ernest Vardanian, at left, who has been jailed in the regional capital of Tiraspol for treason since April 7.Vardanian is being held in an isolation unit and without officially stated charges, according to news reports. On April 9, at a closed-door hearing at the Tiraspol City Court, Vardanian’s pre-trial detention was reportedly extended for two months. The PMR is also known as Transdniester.
On April 7, a group of armed agents from PMR’s Ministry of
State Security (MGB) arrested Vardanian at his home in
Vardanian, 30, works as a staff reporter and political
analyst for the Chisinau-based newspaper Puls,
freelances for the Russian Internet news agency Novy Region, and occasionally contributes for Europa Libera—the
Aleksandr Shchetinin, Novy Region’s general director, said Vardanian had recently focused on international politics rather than Moldovan and Transdniestrian issues. Shchetinin, who spoke with Irina Vardanian after her husband’s arrest, told CPJ that MGB agents searched the journalist’s home, confiscating computers, audio- and video- reporting equipment, reporter’s notebooks, and the family’s bank and credit cards.
Several local sources told CPJ that after she gave initial
interviews to the press, Irina Vardanian was warned to not talk to the media.
CPJ’s was unable to get through to her by phone. The sources also said
journalists in Transdniester have been told by
Dmitry Kavruk told Deutsche Welle that since the fall of 2009, the MGB in
The Transdniester region broke away from