About Bivol

Екип на Биволъ

October 2010: Assen Yordanov is receiving the Leipzig Media Award (“European Pulitzer”) in Leipzig, in the presence of the Minister of the Interior of Germany Thomas de Mézières

We created this private independent site to give you, the readers, another chance to have access to quality investigative journalism and to objective opinions of experts and analysts on the hottest topics of everyday life.

Why Bivol (Water Buffalo)? Because when it goes forward with its horns, this noble animal is not afraid of anything and is not looking around anxiously due to “some considerations.” We will not offer such journalism here. In today’s world of mass and often manipulate information, the horns of the bull will help us get to the truth. And it is the goal that we pursue.

Without censorship and without self-censorship, impartial and honest, we offer a debate on the most current topics. We spare you the news that inundate us from all sides of the spectrum, but do not undermine their importance to our lives.

Bivol is also a tribune for its readers; it is a place to exchange ideas and a place for future collaboration. This is because we want to be a corrective, and you, our readers, can help us. We are pleased to publish all your opinions below articles if they meet the rules for commenting. You can also send us suggestions for new investigations and additional information about already published texts.

Assen Yordanov, Atanas Tchobanov


Assen Yordanov was born on February 3, 1964 in Burgas. From 1992 until 2007, he worked as investigative journalist for the newspapers Standard, Monitor and Politika (Politics). He is the author of major investigations in corruption practices and in connections of people in power to organized crime. Assen is the winner of the prestigious journalism prize Leipzig Media Award, also known as the “European Pulitzer” for 2010. In 2013, he was nominated by “Reporters Without Borders” for the Netizen Award (see the video presentation below). Assen Yordanov is the only Bulgarian in the selection of “Reporters Without Borders” – “100 heroes of information.” He lives in Burgas.



Atanas Tchobanov – Investigative Journalist, born on June 26, 1968, in Sofia. He graduated from the French Language High School in Sofia. From 1984 to 1989, he was active speleologist and mountain climber. Since 1990, he lives in France where in 2003 he obtained a PhD in linguistics at the University of Paris-West. Since 2004, Atanas works as a research engineer at CNRS, France, in the laboratory MoDyCo. He was co-founder of and journalist in the newspaper Parizhki Vesti (Paris News) from 2005 to 2009. Since 2008, he is a member of the Public Council of the Association for Free Speech “Anna Politkovskaya.”. From  2016 to 2018 he served as elected OCCRP Member Representative in the Board of Directors of OCCRP.  Member of ICIJ since 2020. Atanas Tchobanov’s interview for Novinite.com in English read HERE.

Dimitar Stoyanov – Investigative Reporter, born in Sliven on September 12, 1980. Graduated from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” as a Master in Anthropology and Philology. He has been involved in journalism since 2000. He has worked for BNR, NOVA TV and bTV. He made his first investigations for Inforadio in 2006-2007. Stoyanov was repeatedly into the focus of international free-speech organizations after being pressured because of his work. Winner of the Journalist of the Year Award for 2018. Winner of the George Weidenfeld Special Award for Courageous Investigative Journalism for 2019. See interviews with Dimitar Stoyanov here and here.



partnerOCCRPSince November 2013, Bivol is member center of OCCRP – Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. OCCRP is a leading transnational investigative reporting network, promoting technology-based approaches to exposing organized crime and corruption worldwide. Having produced more than 90 cross-border investigations informing more than six million readers and viewers in 2018 on our website alone, OCCRP has emerged among the largest producers of investigative content in the world. Bivol reporters contributed to many award-winning investigations published by OCCRP – Making a Killing, The Azerbaijani Laundromat, The Troika Laundromat, Gold for Visa.



Since 2018 Bivol is partner of ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists behind the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers global investigations.

Bivol published a number of important stories based on the Panama Papers files, revealing the role and the importance of Bulgarian OC figures and former Communist secret services agents in the current economic and political life in Bulgaria.


Cooperation with WikiLeaks:

In March 2011, Bivol became an official media partner of the whistle-blowing site Wikileaks for publishing on Bulgaria and the Balkans. Bivol processed and published the US diplomatic cables on Bulgaria and Macedonia (the project Cablegate), the correspondence of the American private spy headquarters Stratfor (the project Gifiles) and is a media partner in the projects PlusD and SpyFiles 3. The assessment of Julian Assange for this collaboration can be seen in his statement at the conference against corruption in the European Parliament on December 5, 2012, and also in this interview with Belgian media.


2010 – Assen Yordanov is a recipient of the prestigious journalism prize Leipzig Media Award 2010;

2012 – The site has won the audience award “Person of the Year” for 2012;

2013 – The site won the the prize for best journalistic materials relating to the protection of Bulgarian wildlife for 2012 and 2013 by Biodiversity Foundation and the Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Bulgaria;

2015 – 16 – Atanas Tchobanov is a co-recipient of the Serbian National Award for Investigative Reporting for 2015 and 2016;

2017 – Atanas Tchobanov is among the co-recipients of the Global Shining Light Award Certificate of Excellency in Journalism for the investigation “Making a Killing”

2017 – Bivol is co-recipient of the “Professional and Civil Ethics” award “Samuel Frances”

2018 – Dimitar Stoyanov is co-recipient of the special award for courageous journalism George Weidenfeld

Атила Биро и Димитър Стоянов с наградата за смела разследваща журналистика

2019 – Atanas Tchobanov is among the co-recipients of the Global Shining Light Award Certificate of Excellency in Journalism 2019 for the investigation “The Azerbaijani Laundromat”

Pictured: Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Hamburg 25. – 29.09.2019
Copyright: Nick Jaussi

2020 – Sigma Award for data journalism as part of the team investigating The Troika Laundromat

Bivol in foreign media:

If Woodward and Bernstein were Bulgarian – online in Slate, owned by the legendary Washington Post newspaper. The Bulgarian translation can be found on the site BGNES.

NDR TV Germany: Bulgarian Мedia – Free but Not Independent

ARTE TV: La liberté de la presse en Europe

European Journalism Centre: Underground professional journalism

L’Express France: Le port bulgare et la raffinerie russe

Ars Technica: Whither Whistleblowing: Where Have All the Leaking Sites Gone?

Arte TV: “Les Bulgares ne se font pas d’illusions

Arte TV: “Le système social et politique du pays est malade”

VICE USA: Burning Men of Bulgaria

ARD: Bulgarien: Abhörskandal vor den Wahlen

Alexa O’Brian Interview with Atanas Tchobanov, Balkanleaks’ spokesman and Bivol.bg co-editor

Atlatszo Hungary: Journalist buffaloes in Bulgaria

Der Spiegel Germany: How Europe is helping dictators

ARD and Euronews: ARD and Euronews Seek Independent Bivol for Comments

Kurier Austria: Wahlsieger Borisow – der Brutalo-Buddha

Ostpol Germany: Bulgaria: In the Grip of the Past

Klartext Switzerland: Sous l’emprise des oligarques

The Marker – Haaretz Israel: Oren Hazan, the Casino, the Bulgarian Mafia and the Talks between Israeli and Bulgarian Senior Officials  

ARTE TV: Vox Pop: Tourisme pour le meilleur et pour le pire (with Atanas Tchobanov)

ARTE TV: Bulgarians against corruption (with Assen Yordanov)

AFP: Bulgaria – powerless to curb corruption (with Atanas Tchobanov)

Wiener Zeitung: Land in Oligarch’s Hand (interview with Assen Yordanov)

Le Nouvel Observateur: Atanas Tchobanov, le journaliste qui fait trembler le pouvoir bulgare (in French)

Chronology of Attacks on Bivol

December 2007 – Four people attack Bivol’s Director Assen Yordanov with knives and pipes and try to stab him, but he manages to fight them off. Pre-trial proceedings under Art. 115 of the Penal Code are launched for a murder attempt. The perpetrators remain unknown.

November 2008 – Assen Yordanov receives information that there is a “wet job” against him. The police establish that an organized crime group had been following him on the order of the acting Deputy District Attorney in his hometown Burgas. The case is reported to then-Prosecutor General Boris Velchev. There are no consequences for the person soliciting the murder and for the thugs.

2012 – Four Bulgarian banks file complaints with the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB, the central bank) over the published by Bivol leaked US diplomatic cables and insist that the site be fined.

2012 – Bivol’s reporter Dimitar Stoyanov receives threats while filming footage of drunken magistrates, partying during their work hours. The group includes the President of the Sofia Appellate Court at the time, Vesselin Pengezov, and the current member of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), Sevdalin Mavrov. The police assigns guards to watch for Stoyanov’s safety.

2013 – Dimitar Stoyanov is splashed with gasoline and threatened to be set on fire during reporting.

2014 – The Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) orders Bivol to disclose its sources and threatens the media with a fine.

2015 – Dimitar Stoyanov is openly tailed by thugs during an investigation of First Investment Bank (FIB). Unknown people break into his home and search it. Dimitar files complaints but the perpetrators are never found.

2015 – Pre-trial proceedings are launched against Atanas Tchobanov, Bivol’s Editor-in-Chief for defamation by former Minister Ivan Danov, exposed as “the French unemployed” for milking the French welfare system. Danov’s legal complaint is dismissed with the opinion that there is evidence that he has committed a crime and there is no defamation.

2016 – The Prosecutor’s Office summons Bivol’s journalists to question them in the “YanevaGate” case and launches a procedure to seize Bivol’s servers at France, which is subsequently terminated for fear of a reverse effect.

2016 – A lawsuit is instituted against Assen Yordanov and his bank accounts are frozen based on incorrect National Revenue Agency (NRA) records of unpaid taxes from 15 years ago. After a complaint and a check, it turns out that he has no tax obligations and the NRA justifies its actions with a “software error”.

2017 – Atanas Tchobanov receives a Sicilian message. A huge stuffed wolf is left on the hood of his car in front of his Paris home.

2018 – Dimitar Stoyanov and his Romanian colleagues Attila Biro are detained during the #GPGate investigation – large-scale disclosures of misappropriation of European and local resources by consultants and construction companies linked to the former CEO of Lukoil Bulgaria Valentin Zlatev.

2018 – Bivol journalists are tipped off about a serious and an imminent threat to their safety and life because of the #GPGate investigation.

2019 – The Prosecutor’s Office investigates Assen Yordanov and Atanas Tchobanov on a fabricated and anonymous alert about their properties after Bivol exposes dozens of politicians, magistrates and administration employees in the #ApartementGate and #Guesthouses scandals.

2019 – The Prosecutor’s Office publicly links Bivol with the NRA’s hacking and issues a European Investigation Order to France to question Bivol’s Editor-in-Chief Atanas Tchobanov. The mainstream media close to the government launch a new smear campaign.


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