Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Law is an ass' stunt brings fine

By Petru Clej

Pig dressed as prosecutor (pic: PRO-TV Chisinau)
"Porcuror" is a pun on the word for prosecutor (pic: PRO-TV Chisinau)

A businessman in Moldova who dressed a pig as a prosecutor and a donkey as a policeman has been fined, despite an outcry over his arrest.

Anatol Matasaru, who alleged harassment by the authorities, said he would appeal against the 200 lei (13) fine.

The opposition has accused the Moldovan police of an increasingly heavy-handed approach in the run-up to parliamentary elections next March.

Mr Matasaru's arrest on 18 December was filmed by an independent TV channel.

He was arrested as he was trying to load the donkey, wearing a policeman's cap, and the pig dressed as a prosecutor, into his van to stage a protest in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.

The pig's uniform bore the label "porcuror" - a pun on the Romanian word for prosecutor, using the word "porc", meaning "pig".

Donkey dressed as policeman (pic: PRO-TV Chisinau)
Police were not amused by this bid to join their ranks (pic: PRO-TV Chisinau)

Mr Matasaru's arrest was condemned by human rights activists, as well as the opposition. He had set up an internet cafe after having worked abroad.

Political pressures

The television channel which broadcast pictures of his arrest - PRO-TV Chisinau, a subsidiary of the Romanian network PRO-TV - is seen as one of the few independent broadcasters in Moldova.

Its broadcasting licence was extended provisionally after a meeting between the EU envoy Kalman Mizsei and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, who heads the ruling Party of Communists (PCRM).

The parliamentary elections seen as a key test for Moldova, as it seeks closer ties with the EU, after eight years of PCRM government. Moldova has strong ties to neighbouring Romania, which joined the EU in 2007.

For the past three years Freedom House - a US watchdog which monitors freedom of the press - has described Moldovan media as "non-free", as opposed to "partially free" in the previous 15 years.

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Country profile: Moldova
10 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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