The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) is deeply concerned about the attempts of state institutions to suppress the owners of media outlets that are critical of those in power.
With its actions towards the owners of Economedia (a media group that publishes popular news media such as Dnevnik.bg and the Capital newspaper), the Commission for the Seizure of Illegally Acquired Property (KONPI) creates an impression of arbitrariness whereby a state institution is ready to go beyond its competencies and the existing legal provisions to punish media that make those in power feel uncomfortable.
Although the attack is not directly aimed at Economedia but at its majority owner, one can suppose that KONPI’s actions have been provoked by stories published by outlets belonging to the media group.
This event presents us with an opportunity to recall a statement by Sasho Donchev, the owner of the Sega newspaper, another media critical of the government, who once said that Sotir Tsatsarov, the chief prosecutor of Bulgaria, had “advised” him not to risk his nice business.
The fact that these institutional actions against media or media owners are preceded by a massive attack by competing outlets raises the logical question whether state institutions themselves are not under pressure.
AEJ-Bulgaria notes that in the current complicated media environment in Bulgaria, any action against media critical of the government may have serious consequences for the reputation of the country on the eve of its presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June 2018).
AEJ-Bulgaria continues to follow closely the tax inspections targeting Bulgarian journalists Viktor Nikolaev and Anna Tsolova, which have shown no irregularities with regards to their incomes.
The inspections were initiated at the request of MEP Nikolay Barekov, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group at the European Parliament, and were accompanied by an attack against the two journalists by media associated with Delyan Peevski, a member of the Bulgarian parliament, as well as by high-ranking government representatives.