European media recognition of the Bulgarian independent site for investigative journalism Bivol continues to grow, along with its international prestige. In Bulgaria, Bivol’s investigations in the shady dealings of power and of the so-called “business” are usually hushed or ignored by mainstream media, but they are followed abroad as such cases cause serious media and public interest. Thus, the issues that should be in the spotlight of Bulgarian media and society are reported outside the country and Western journalists are increasingly turning to their colleagues from Bivol namely because it is an independent site focused on objective investigative journalism.
Recently, two of the most popular European TVs – ARD and Euronews – aired coverage of Bulgaria with the participation of the founder and director of Bivol, Asen Yordanov.
ARD is a public broadcaster (the world’s second largest after BBC) in Germany with a total of 11 TV channels and 55 radio programs and Euronews is the most watched television channel in Europe, founded by 10 European public broadcasters, which has programs in 13 languages.
The reportage from Bulgaria of ARD journalist Matthias Ebert includes Asen Yordanov’s comments on the illegal deal for the construction of a large vacation complex one of the last wild and unspoiled beaches on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, Karadere, which threatens to turn this incredibly beautiful place in another concrete ghetto. The two are filmed attending the protest of a few locals who insist that the construction should take place because of promises of jobs and income, and because most of them have also been misled by the “investors” as Yordanov explains.
For the German National Television, the media monopoly issue in Bulgaria is also very important because it has led to the plummeting of the country’s freedom of speech ranking of “Reporters Without Borders” to the abysmal 100th place (it is noted that in comparison Germany is 14th in Europe and Finland is first). It is also stated in the reportage that this monopoly of New Bulgarian Media Group is a type dictatorship that makes the work of Bulgarian journalists who want to be independent, not just very difficult, but often very dangerous.
Regarding the latter, Ebert shows interest in the 2007 attack against Yordanov, which was a murder attempt. The Bulgarian journalist was attacked with knifes and metal pipes near his home, but because of his black belt in karate, he managed to fight off the unknown perpetrators. The incident is long forgotten by Bulgarian media and the investigation failed to uncover and expose the attackers, as it happened in a number of other cases of intimidation and threats against journalists.
The reportage of Sandor Zsiros for Euronews is titled “Rich Man, Poor Man” and focuses on the poorest country in the European Union – Bulgaria, and on the richest – Luxembourg as an illustration of the “Social Iron Curtain” in contemporary Europe.
Yordanov shows to Zsiros another outrage on the Bulgarian Black Sea – the picturesque beach “Coral”, where dunes, despite being located in a protected area, have been destroyed. According to Yordanov, “Coral” is one of the starkest symbols of political corruption and of the merge of political power, oligarchic interests and the mafia.
The Euronews team was able to “enjoy” yet another “view” – of the so-called Croco Beach complex – a terrifying concrete tumor on one of the most beautiful places on Bulgaria’s southern coast, known as the Tsar’s Beach, near the town of Tsarevo, where wild swans nest.
The ugly concrete carcass is deserted and unfinished because there is no state or public will to demolish it, though it was intended solely as a way to launder money and belongs to Russian citizens Tziganov and Pampurin, both declared criminals by Bulgaria and Russia and extradited from Bulgaria.
The two reportages show that Bivol is sought after by its European colleagues because of its investigations in cases of destruction of natural landmarks aimed to pave the way for suspicious groups to build on them and the connected administrative, judicial and political (i.e. on all levels of power) corruption.
Also recently, Yordanov became the only Bulgarian to be featured in the first ever ranking of “Reporters Without Borders” – “100 Information Heroes”, published on the occasion of May 3, World Press Freedom Day and was acclaimed by project for investigative journalism OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) as one of their two partners receiving the high recognition.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian