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Prof. Dichev in the bTV studio on November 4, 2013, photo: http://btvnews.bg/

The name of our media, the site for investigative journalism Bivol, was mentioned on November 4, 2013, in an extremely negative and derogatory context, both from personal and professional aspect, by one of the guests of the political talk show “This Morning” on bTV – Ivaylo Dichev. Commenting on the invitation of protesting students, extended to journalists Asen Yordanov and Atanas Tchobanov from Bivol, to deliver a lecture to them in the main building of the occupied Sofia University, Dichev said:

“…Well, yesterday some people from the site Bivol were invited… Now, are these the investigative journalists of Bulgaria, the most famous, right? You are in this profession, you know that we have many more …um… much more popular and serious journalists. What does that mean? Well, they (the students – editor’s note) do not know Bulgarian journalism, maybe do not watch TV, maybe do not read newspapers; I don’t know. I wish they would turn a little towards Bulgarian reality, otherwise what happened with our protests since June, will happen to theirs too…”

We leave aside Dichev’s sarcastic opinion of protesting students, who, to him, have just “fallen from Mars” – they don’t watch TV and don’t read newspapers because they took the liberty to commit an unforgivable sin and invite “some people” from Bivol. We also leave aside the attempt of the experienced expert in cultural studies to downplay the mass June protests, implying they were doomed, futile and irrelevant, and if students fail to follow the form of his thought, the same is awaiting them, i.e. marginalization and attenuation.

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With these judgments, Dichev unmasked himself as provocateur aiming to incite discouragement, doubts and frustration. It is not a coincidence that he targeted precisely the part of Bulgarian society that indicates explicitly that the situation in the country has reached an irreversible political and institutional crisis and trust in public representation of power is now on the negative. If we track the public appearances of this person back in time, it could just reinforce a similar analysis and put him on the list of concealed manipulators, promoted as renowned mentors of mass processes in the country.

However, we cannot remain indifferent to the biased behavior of Ivaylo Dichev against Bivol. Journalists from the media were invited to give a lecture at the discretion of protesting students. What was their motive, we cannot say, but we can presume. These young Bulgarians belong to the generation that confronts all of the vicious status quo. The so-called “Transition Period” in Bulgaria, the total appropriation and plundering of national resources, held in the hands of a clique associated with the former establishments of the Communist Party and its oppressive structure – the State Security, the merger of government and organized crime, the unbearable corruption environment in all spheres of State and public life, the dark backstage deals that define politics, the total usurpation of media by the oligarchy and the transformation of media in propaganda loudspeakers or in tribunals issuing out-of-court verdicts in modern “dazibao” style.

But, we can guess Ivaylo Dichev’s motive in the attempt to discredit and marginalize us. At the meeting with the protesting students, the specific topic of the lecture was listed as: “About the Mafia Openly – Mafia and Media.”

Atanas Tchobanov attended the meeting as Asen Yordanov, unfortunately, was unable to do so, because of compelling personal reasons. During the discussion, a question was asked – how can one trust polling agencies in the country, and specifically “Gallup International Bulgaria.” This theme is developed in detail in a journalistic investigation of Bivol entitled “Gallup” or “Kancho” or “How the Bulgarian “Gallup” Ended up Being Bogus.” The truth about fraud with the prestigious polling brand was not spared to the audience. The negativism of the expert in cultural studies, Ditchev, is understandable because of his direct and close ties with Kancho Stoychev in their common association “Circle European Dialogue.”

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They received a final sentence by the Supreme Administrative Court and their brand GALLUP was deleted, but the so-called “Kanchos” did not give up and in April this year registered a new fake with the same name – the company “Gallup International,” whose shareholders are Andrey Raychev and Kancho Stoychev and Dichev’s “Club European Dialogue.” They share the same office address: 23, James Bourchier Street. It is no secret that the “Kanchos,” in addition of being usurpers of the famous brand name “Gallup,” are multimillionaires, with major business interests in tourism, entangled through companies and associations with prominent oligarchs. Just take a look at other members, in addition to Stoytchev, of the Association National Tourism Board: Gergovi – Krasimir and Georgi, Mario and Martin Zaharievi, Mladen Mutrafchiyski, Marin Mitev from TIM, and… Branimir Botev – the Deputy Minister in Charge of Tourism in the Cabinet Oresharski. These are the waters in which these sharks swim, while Dichev circles around them as “pilot fish.”

We don’t care much about the other motives in the attempt to publicly “lynch” Bivol and people who work for it. Maybe they should not be underestimated as Ivaylo Dichev’s reaction shocked with its speed. It is beneath our dignity to assert ourselves and to explain at length who we are, what we do, what our professional path was, and what recognition we have received for our work in the country and around the world.

The advice to students to get acquainted with Bulgarian reality is irrational, because these “Early Risers” young people have a very realistic picture of the doom in which our country has fallen. Their reaction through this radical protest is actually a survival instinct of our sick society. They are the immune system of our nation’s collective body against the plague of neo-communist mafia that drove Bulgaria to the lethal phase of lack of perspective and despair. By demeaning Bivol, Dichev actually degrades the protesting students, all while claiming that he supports them. This is a common technique for infiltration, usurpation and replacement of truth about mass events, described in textbooks. “It will not pass, Dichev! The well-oiled manipulation machine of the Communist State Security will not work this time!

Since the cultural studies expert generously shares mentoring verdicts about who is familiar with reality; who is a trustworthy journalist; who should be invited or not in hall 272; how students must protest etc., Bivol takes the liberty to extend a humble advice to him: Mr. Dichev, please get acquainted with a recent study funded by the “Friedrich Naumann” Foundation. You are participating in international conferences with one of its representatives, and you should find interesting studies and reports sponsored by this Foundation. Those on “Taboos in Bulgarian Media” should be particularly intriguing and relevant as this issue sets the dividing line between censorship and freedom of speech; between dictatorship and democracy; between mafia ruling the country and having a dignified society. We have not spared the inconvenient truth about the beneficiaries of this Foundation and Bivol is hardly a favorite media for them, but their study did not spare the truth about us either. And the truth is that of 10 TABOO topics for online media in Bulgaria (and even more in print media) at least 4 top issues are related to our media. Bivol is mentioned a record number of times (20) in this report, more than any other media. We are providing a link to the entire report on the project of “Friedrich Naumann” Foundation and the “Institute for Modern Politics” in order to not fall into an awkward situation to re-tell for you what others have researched and written about us.

So, we would ask Ivaylo Dichev directly: Why are you not familiar with Bulgarian reality and media climate? Why haven’t you read even the analysis of respected institutes with which you, yourself, work? Is this the competency you claim in your media appearances and what criteria do you use to judge who is a trustworthy journalist and who is not a trustworthy journalist and media?

Atanas Tchobanov received a long and loud applause from the audience in Sofia University. Unfortunately, this can be read only in European and not in Bulgarian press. The startling rate of taboo topics in Bivol’s publications and their total lack in the editorial policies of the most “trustworthy” media in Bulgaria is, perhaps, the answer to Ivaylo Dichev’s rhetorical question: “Why protesting students, outraged by the criminal status quo rule, decided to invite “some people from the site Bivol?” Well, it is precisely because they want to know the real, not powdered and distorted, picture of our reality. Because they have decided to rebuild Bulgaria with a clean model, to live at home and give the country a chance of life with their energy, strength, intellect and their future generations. Because they have firmly decided to break with the horns of their dissatisfaction all barriers and taboos of oligarchic propaganda. Last but not least, because in our motto: “Ahead with Horns Up” they recognized the way to the fulfillment of their dreams, instead of wagging their tails around “big” oligarchs.

On November 3, 2013, Atanas Tchobanov from Bivol made a presentation before “Early Risers” students in lecture hall 272 of the occupied Sofia University. The topic was “Mafia and Media in Bulgaria” and this is the first discussion from the series “Openly about Mafia.” Video: Politikat.net

Part I

Part II

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