The State Agency for the Protection of Morals


Dum dee dum, ho dee ho, I was just minding my business this week, reading through incredibly boring government announcements when I nearly fell out of my chair. Sometimes, it’s really easy to forget what a truly weird country Moldova is.

The announcement I was reading is about the streamlining of 16 ministries into nine. So far, makes sense and sounds good. But as I was reading through mundane details like how the Department of Defense (UK: Defence) is in charge of the official presidential orchestra, I saw that one government agency was being subsumed into the new Ministry of Education, Culture, and Research: The State Agency for the Protection of Morals.

agentiadestatpentruprotectiamoralitatii

Say what?

Yes, it’s a real thing. And here is their official back story.

My translation:

Per the Moldovan parliamentary law passed on July 22, 1991 and law 344 of June 3, 1993, the State Agency for the Protection of Morals is being founded to “counter-attack the propagation of pornography, sadism, and the cult of violence“.

It goes on to say that the agency will work with the Culture and Religion Ministry and the National Council to assemble experts for the purpose of preventing “pornography, sadism, and the cult of violence in cultural and artistic works”. This is later specified to mean preventing these three things in literature, mass media, newspapers, films, and radio broadcasts.

I’m left truly speechless. In 1993, Moldova was barely managing to find its feet, cut adrift from the long decades of inclusion in the Soviet Union and smarting from the bitter loss of Transnistria. Why in the world was the government so worried about pornography, sadism, and violence in art?

Look, I’ve lived in former Communist countries for much more than a decade. I’m used to bureaucratic nonsense and some really heavy-handed government agencies, but this surely takes the cake. How bad exactly was the sadism “problem” before 1993 that Moldova needed an entire government agency to deal with it? Or the “cult of violence” in literature, movies, and magazines?

I don’t think I’ll ever really know, and even Romanians think it’s quite Orwellian. What I do know is that the director of the State Agency for the Protection of Morals is currently Vitalie Verbitski. Alas, his official CV is badly misspelled (“menegement” and “intrernet” in English and “fortrele” in Romanian both), and his previous work history includes a stint in the army and a taxi company called “Donprut” which had its license revoked by the European Court of Human Rights for running a number of scams. Right when Donprut lost its case, Verbitski got hired as a “specialist coordinator” for the State Agency for the Protection of Morals, being promoted to director just two short years later. Christ.

As for what this agency actually does, I don’t think even Verbitski could tell you. Their website is full of reposted fluff from Romanian sources about how kids these days watch too much TV.

And it’s not like the State Agency for the Protection of Morality is even fulfilling its basic mandate. Creating pornography is a big business in Moldova, but Verbitski said that the agency “can’t do anything” if the pornography is online. The agency also warned (but did not sanction) telephone sex chat companies to refrain from “indecent” language when stimulating customers to orgasm. The agency did say that “steamy” conversations were permitted though. Nice.

Beyond the porn, there are plenty of ultra-violent Hollywood films on display at the theater, plus a new laser tag arena. Not sure if those count as “cult of violence” though. About the only thing Verbitski and the government don’t have to worry about is sadism, primarily because life here is already brutal enough that (virtually) nobody is getting off on inducing (more) pain.

Ah, Moldova. Can’t keep the parliament from burning down but they’ve got time and money to worry about “protecting” people from themselves. You really cannot make up stuff like this.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Brenda Fernández says:

    Is it finally the new laptop which causes half the screen to be an image, and the content to be in a corner now? :(

    Like

  2. Sounds like this man knows someone in a high government position. Something like nepotism. Rather than protecting people from themselves, how about protecting the young women from the abusive situations that force them into the sex business. Protect them from the human trafficking scams that kidnap them and use them as slaves.

    The women who “voluntarily” go online do it for economic reasons. I said voluntarily. They are coerced by the lure of maybe earning a week’s pay in a day. They can make ten times what they can make in the local economy and set their own hours. Not all the girls make a lot of money. But when the local wage is $10 US dollars a day it doesn’t take much online “chat” to earn a living.

    I see the picture on your post of a Muslim man chastising a Muslim woman. That could be a valid government action, to declare Islam a dangerous abusive, misogynistic ideology.

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