RSF Condemns Verbal Attacks against Journalists by Senior Bulgarian Politicians

RSF Condemns Verbal Attacks against Journalists by Senior Bulgarian Politicians

 Sofia, February 14 (BTA) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has
called on the Bulgarian authorities to stop trying to intimidate
 the country's journalists. In a statement on Thursday the
organization said that journalists have been subjected to a
series of verbal attacks and threats by very senior officials
since the start of the month.

They include Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who likened
journalists, especially women journalists, to turkeys during a
press conference in Sofia on 4 February.

One of the cases mentioned is associated with prosecutor-general
 Ivan Geshev who turned on Atanas Tchobanov, the editor of the
investigative news website Bivol and instead of responding to
Tchobanov's questions, Geshev started putting questions to
Tchobanov that showed he had information about his private life.

RSF also notes a statement by Bulgarian national assembly deputy
 speaker Valery Simeonov, who accused two journalists with the
commercial TV channel bTV, Venelin Petkov and Anton Hekimyan, on
 11 February, of being 'corrupt' and asked the prosecutor's
office to investigate them for failing to report alleged links
between the online casino Efbet's owner and Vasil Bozhkov, a
businessmen recently arrested on 11 charges.

"It is distressing to see that personal and offensive attacks
against journalists by the most senior officials in Bulgaria are
 not isolated and keep on occurring," said Pauline Ades-Mevel,
RSF editor-in-chief. "The European Union cannot allow
journalists to be threatened in such an institutional and
systematic manner in a member country. We ask the European
Parliament's president to clearly condemn these disgraceful

Bulgaria has been experiencing a serious media crisis for the
past decade because many media outlets are owned by just a few
oligarchs and journalists are constantly subjected to
harassment. RSF already voiced alarm about the situation in a
2018 report on investigative journalism in Bulgaria but nothing
seems to have improved. Ranked 35th in RSF's World Press Freedom
 Index in 2006, Bulgaria is now ranked 111th, the lowest ranking
 of any EU member country, the RSF recalled. NV/PP

Source: Sofia