The company „Leadway Media Solutions“ Ltd., which organizes and coordinates the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s (BSP) troll raids of online media and social networks, is owned by Olya Ivanova Gromova – Gencheva and „Breifix Technologies“ Ltd., which in turn is owned by Krassimir Ivanov Stankov. The latter is a diplomat from the time of the communist regime and a graduate of the Moscow University for International Economic Relations. Stankov is a former Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations in the late 80s and early 90s. Such positions were given then only to people exclusively devoted and loyal to the regime.
Olya Gromova, also known to the public as Olya Lecheva, Olya Gencheva and Olya Marques de Cardenas is the famous olive-skinned singer of vocal group „Tram Number 5,” which was popular 30 years ago. The same Olya was also Head of the PR department of Milen Velchev, Minister of Finance in the Cabinet of the National Movement for Stability and Prosperity party (NDSV). It is well-known that Velchev is now the official representative of the Russian bank VTB, which is involved, together with Tsvetan Vasilev’s Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), in some of the largest privatization deals in Bulgaria in recent years. Inquiries indicate that Olya Gromova is not only a partner of the former communist diplomat in „Leadway,“ but they have common property deals in Sofia.
“Leadway Media Solutions” is a PR agency providing its clients integrated communication services focusing on digital PR, communications management in social media, political PR, reputation management and crisis management. The firm was established in January 2010 by Mrs. Olya Marquez, who has extensive experience in public policy management and corporate communications,“ according to the agency’s own review.
Interestingly, the former singer and model has attempted, during the term of the Three-Party Coalition, a career of professional investor as broker of IP „Beta Corp,“ but has received a refusal by the Financial Supervision Commission.
The study of IP addresses that host the anonymous trolls, attacking forum networks, leads to the company „Data Info“ Ltd, engaged in information services, communication technology, data protection, hosting and server services. The company, whose IPs are used by propaganda-spreading “red” (socialists – editor’s note) trolls lists phone numbers for contacts in USA, UK and Bulgaria. The phone contact in Bulgaria – 088599449 – is identical to the official phone number of the advertising agency „V Communication,“ owned by Vessela Vatseva. The addresses of the two companies also overlap and it emerges that they are housed in an office on 1 “Momin Kladenets” street in Lozenets district in Sofia.
The Bulgarian Association of Regional Media /BARM/, whose CEO is the same Vesselina Vatseva, mother of the owner of „Data Info“ – Evlogy Plamenov Vatsev, is registered at the same place and in the same office as „Data Info.“ For several years now, BARN is controlled by Delyan Peevski, after companies associated with him and his mother conquered a large number of regional media. According to people from the Association, Peevski has domineering influence in the newspapers „Konkurent“ (Competitor) in Vratsa, “Borba” (Fight) in Veliko Tarnovo, „Struma“ in Blagoevgrad, „Maritsa“ in Plovdiv, “Chernomorski Far” (Black Sea Lighthouse) and „Factor“ in Burgas, “Nov Zhivot” (New Life) in Kardzhali. People from these circles also say that Vatseva is close to and trusted by the media oligarch as executive director of the Association.
The analysis of troll profiles reveals that they are also used for other campaigns, such as PR ones for the mobile phone operator Mtel. „Vatseva is not a media person; we have accepted her in the Association because it was an advertising agency of Mobiltel and we thought it would be useful to our publications,“ says the former manager of BARM, Galentin Vlahov. The use of the same anonymous profiles for various propaganda campaigns is hardly a coincidence, together with the similar phone numbers, addresses and family ties around Vessela Vatseva, a person close to Delyan Peevski.
The protection of anonymity through special servers provides the organization of the unidentified “red” trolls impunity from possible prosecution by legal order of individuals and entities, affected by the posted comments.
Orders from BSP
The denial of the boss and owner of „Leadway,“ Olya Ivanova Gromova /Marques de Cardenas/, before Bivol about any formal links with BSP and members of the party leadership, connected to official business dealings, is categorically rebutted by metadata records. All files are prepared through an editorial program registered under her father’s family name – Olya Marquez de Cardenas.
The handwritten signature of Olya Marquez de Cardenas also stands under a document for a market offer to prepare a study of an information site, which, masquerading as a neutral news agency, is to earn readers’ trust. Here is what the offer, which leaked from the official mail of BSP, says:
„The suitability of the project is attributed to the fact that information disseminated by a media, not bound by any political or economic entity, will reach more easily the more and more sensitive to media manipulations audience and will be accepted with more trust as reliable” – this is how Marquez justifies the offer. The actual goal becomes clear later in the text – „This will enable the timely preparation of adequate political response and, through the specific instruments of the media, this response will be effectively realized through influence on the attitudes, moods and behaviors of the targeted audiences.“
The offer does not skip the „specialty“ of the agency either – internet trolls. „We will provide massive presence in social networks; the profiles will be equipped with specially designed applications to increase the stream of users of the created content.“
On another note, Balkanleaks obtained a video from the email of the key BSP MEP Iliyana Yotova. The video shows that at the beginning of January 2014, Aneta Avramova, representative of „Leadway,“ has contacted Yotova through her official email address to inform her that she would work in her team. Things get even more interesting because there is reasonable doubt that Yotova’s promotion by internet trolls could be paid with European funds for communication, generously provided to every MEP. Documents relevant to that particular project will be presented in another article as a sequel of this investigation.