Former TV host and current MEP Nikolay Barekov wrote a Facebook post overflowing with slander, unrestrained insults and hate speech directed to Bivol’s editor-in-chief, Atanas Tchobanov.

Barekov claimed that on Thursday evening (07.26.2018), Tchobanov attacked him verbally and urged him to get involved in a physical altercation in an establishment in the capital Sofia while the politician was having dinner with former prosecutor Roman Vassilev.

At the same time, Tchobanov is vacationing in Greece, where he learned about his own embodiment in the MEP’s imagination.

Later, on Bivol’s Facebook page (see here), Nikolay Barekov continued his attacks against Bivol, also calling the site’s readers “idiots”.

Barekov has been the subject of several investigations by Bivol. In 2011, he emerged on pictures from an expensive restaurant on the Cote d’Azur in France pouring champagne on himself in the company of oligarchs and drug traffickers.

Bivol also proved (see here) that documents published by Barekov, which he proclaimed to be evidence of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s criminal past, had been manipulated and not authentic, unlike the authentic Buddha (special services’ codename of Borisov from the 1990’s) file published by Bivol and the cables of the US State Department, describing Borisov as an underground figure.

Last year, Barekov became a protagonist in the journalistic investigation “Project MEPs” (see here), revealing MEP’s ghost offices and undue spending. Bivol is the Bulgarian partner in this project and found that Barekov had received a subsidy for an on-paper-only office in the city of Plovdiv at a location where a new building is being built.

According to the indictment of the prosecution in the case of the collapsed Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), quoted by Capital daily, Barekov had received from the private lender “money in envelopes, bags and sacks” during his election campaign in 2014. Despite this, however, the prosecutor refused to further investigate the MEP. He does have immunity, which can easily be overcome with a sound request by the law enforcement authorities.

The MEP’s public attacks against an investigative journalist sharply differ from with the recent European Parliament resolution to protect journalists from outside pressure, violence and cyberbullying.

In a special report released just days ago, the international human rights NGO Reporters Without Borders “voices concern about the scale of a new threat to press freedom, the mass harassment of journalists online”.

Online harassment is a phenomenon that is spreading throughout the world and now constitutes one of the gravest threats to press freedom,” the NGO’s secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

Nikolay Barekov institutionalizes the same phenomenon. With such ugly slander, insults and strong hate speech, the MEP tarnishes the image of the European institutions. Both, the style and the absurd claims in his post strongly reminisce of the years-long defamatory campaign by the media of controversial lawmaker and businessman Delyan Peevski against Bivol and his journalists.

Atanas Tchobanov is an investigating journalist at Bivol and its editor-in-chief since the site was created in 2010. He is one of the most cited abroad Bulgarian investigative journalists. Tchobanov is the winner of prestigious international awards, and the Global Shining Light Award, awarded by the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN). In 2016, Tchobanov was elected to the board of directors of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Text of the MEP’s July 26 Facebook post in English, translation by Bivol:

“I am very sorry if I am disappointing friends, but an hour ago, I suggested to the person who desperately resembled Atanas Tchobanov from Bivol to be a man and come out so that I can settle the dispute, instead of loudly bashing me in the presence of a bunch of witnesses in a restaurant near the capital’s beltway. I was having dinner with my friend Roman Vassilev. At the next table, this person, in the company of two “chicks” began to offend me with the most disparaging words. Previously, he had recorded my conversation. I paid the bill and we left the restaurant immediately. We behaved as gentlemen. But! I’m sorry I did not beat him. He, himself, suggested it and stridently urged me to do it, but he wanted it to be in the middle of the restaurant to stage a “Patriots“-style show and promote himself as the “victim”. One, the finer and more aggressive chick, recorded “discreetly” with an expensive iPhone the whole conversation that started at their initiative. A year ago, in a nearby store, the same person offended me with the same words while shopping for bottles of the most expensive rakia, but in the midst of the insults, he managed to skedaddle with a bottle under his arm while I was still trying to make sense of his absurd behavior. Such liberal psychos, drunkards, genders, and nits fully justify my opinion that we [Bulgarians] are stupid people since such individuals guide public opinion… A pity, but a fact. If I meet him again, this will be our last friendly conversation. Individuals, like these simpletons and incoherent Sorosoids live only for the scandal. Question: Why is society accepting their dumb tricks as true, tricks that are an insult to the clearheaded intelligence? Here’s how the fake news happens: A drunkard lies that he is living in France and pretends to be a Sorosoid and righteous American. In fact, he is a simple Aboriginal and drinks his rakia every night, which is nothing bad. Indeed, the only thing he has to do with the French is stealing social benefits from them. So, this is his fake identity. Are these people the bearers of the Euro-Atlantic values? Common identity thieves. Then, the wannabe journalist (word is misspelled in Bulgarian – translator’s note) records two chicks or two bros chatting and announces the big “news” on his blog. If this trick does not work, he starts looking for someone to beat him, if possible in front of an audience. This is how the fake news is made. Then he rushes to the embassy to seek his fee. But because I was recently in the White House… Today, I personally told them the bad news. From now on, these fees will be paid by Prokopiev. The embassy now has other legitimate spokespersons.”

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This post is also available in: Bulgarian