Assen Yordanov at the awards ceremony
Bivol won the prize for best journalistic material relating to the protection of Bulgarian wildlife for 2012-2013.
The site was nominated by the Biodiversity Foundation and awarded for its series of outstanding journalistic investigations under the common name “Dunes Gate.” The award was presented personally by the Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Bulgaria, H.E. Ms Regina Escher at a ceremony in Sofia’s Central Park, Borisova Gradina, on October 12.Dunes Gate is a term created by Bivol to expose the ugly corruption scam for the sale on the cheap and for construction on the last preserved sand dunes near the Black Sea town of Nessebar.
“All governments consistently reach for natural resources, committing breaches of laws and regulations, because they are not guided by the interests of the State and society, but by those of oligarchic circles that operate behind the scenes. Bivol reveals these crimes and fights them since for us this is not only a profession, but also cause,” said the director of the site Asen Yordanov at the ceremony.
The journalist from Dnevnik.bg, Bossilena Melteva, also received an award for her overall work on environmental issues.
Eco activist Toma Belev was among the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Belev was fired by the GERB government because he opposed pressure from companies related to banker Tseko Minev to fell forests in the Vitosha mountain for corporate interests. He is directly involved in almost all environment protection actions in the country.
Alberta Alkalay and Toma Belev at the ceremony
A total of 9 prizes were bestowed, among them “Volunteer for Nature.” It was won by the volunteers, who took part in the extinguishing of the large fire at Vitosha’s “Bistrishko Branishte” site in 2012. Nominations for “Politician Attentive to Nature” were introduced for the very first time. Despite the 3 nominations, no Bulgarian politician received the award. The Jury decided that even though they have already demonstrated slight interest towards preservation and conservation of the country’s natural resources, local politicians remain too removed from the cause for the time being.
Investigations in “Dunes Gate,” made by Bivol in late 2012 and early 2013, showed that the spiteful procedures for the “absorption” of lucrative public lands by persons close to power began during the term of the Three-Way Coalition and were finalized by GERB. Published documents and facts irrefutably proved this continuity.
The protagonists of “Dunes Gate” still enjoy immunity under the present government, which even tried to recruit the “mastermind” of the scam, Kalin Tiholov, as Minister. The owners of SLE Group, the company which began the destruction of the dunes and which is linked to former Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, remain undisturbed by tax authorities and the prosecution, even though their sudden wealth is absolutely inexplicable. Prosecutors pardoned former Member of the Parliament from GERB Emil Dimitrov after it was irrefutably proven that a company registered to his mother has plundered public land; built on it a pool and then started a procedure to legalize it under the same scam as “Dunes Gate.”
Nature protection is central to our website as it is a significant public resource, generating the interest of empowered criminals. Over the years Bivol revealed many abuses of Bulgarian nature – from our early investigations about Strandzha and the Coral beach to topics related to the Pirin Mountain, the ski resorts, Irakli, “Dunes Gate” and Ropotamo. Readers can get acquainted below with our major publications on these topics (in Bulgarian):
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