Todor Batkov – agent of the former Communist State Security, DC, with alias Tara, Tosho Toshev – DS agent Bor, Svetlana Sharenkova, Petio Blaskov and Delyan Peevski at the launch of “Bulgarian Media Union” in the spring of 2012. Photo: Dnevnik, collage: Facebook
Delyan Peevski is still President of the Association “Union of Newspaper Publishers and Distributors of Print Media.” Currently, this is the only visible post of “Bulgaria’s Zuckerberg” outside his government and elected-official ones. The Union was founded on February 15, 2010, and the next day it was registered by the Sofia City Court (company case 98/2010), according to the registry Daksi. In the conflict of interest declaration, which Peevski filed on March 20, 2013, after he was restored as investigator, he claimed that he has applied to leave the Union on February 25. As of the moment, however, such change has not been recorded.
In the same declaration, Peevski further claimed that he was leaving the Supervisory Board of another media union, whose launch the “Bulgarian Zuckerberg” personally honored with his presence in May 2012. This is the “Bulgarian Media Union” (the photo above is from its establishment). Since Aug 2, 2013, Peevski’s name is not listed as board member, although it still adorns the website of the Association.
Several other individuals from the newspaper business appear on the Supervisory Board of the “Union of Newspaper Publishers and Distributors of Print Media”: the publisher of Weekend Martin Radoslavov, Nikolay Tomov from the Veliko Tarnovo-based newspaper Borba, and Galentin Vlahov from Chernomorski Far. All these publications are owned by the media group of Peevski’s mother, Irena Krasteva. On paper, Peevski himself, does not own any media.
Ghost Union but Real Office for Her Child…
The activities of the Newspaper Union are unclear. Since the establishment of this association, it has never issued a public position, statement or opinion. The Newspaper Union is not listed in the NGOs’ registry of the Ministry of Justice and therefore its financial declarations have not been made public. Whether Delyan Peevski receives a salary as President of the association, and in what amount, is complete mystery. It did not became clear either from his property declarations, researched in detail by the site Noresharski.com
The association, however, maintains an expensive office in a neat little house on the quiet Sofia street “Bacho Kiro” 23, a 5-minute walk from “Independence Square.” The modest sign, notifying of the existence of the Newspaper Union, is placed on the security booth with tinted windows, under the careful watch of several security cameras. The street gets blocked by security vehicles upon the arrival and departure of President Peevski, and he quickly ducks behind the iron gates, say witnesses from nearby shops. It is here, in this well-protected and monitored perimeter, where the gatherings and briefings of publishers from Krasteva’s group and from “friendly” media from the “Bulgarian Media Union” are held.
“New Bulgarian Media Group,” owned solely by Irena Krasteva, pays for the luxurious office of the “Bulgarian Zuckerberg.” A check of Bivol shows that the rent contract, concluded in June 2010, is for five years.
The “landlord” company confirmed for Bivol that they have contracts with “New Bulgarian Media Group,” but declined to give the exact amount of the monthly rent, citing trade confidentiality. They explained that the Newspaper Union’s payments were completely “flawless.”
Documents in the Registry Agency, however, show that 762.8 levs have been paid in recording fee, which is one thousandth of the material interest. In other words, Irena Krasteva pays 768 000 levs for rent for 60 months or 12 800 levs per month. This monthly amount, which exceeds the annual maintenance of our humble site, otherwise meets rental market prices for similar property in downtown Sofia.
In a 2011 interview in English for Leaders Magazine, banker Tsvetan Vassilev complained from the crisis, which has complicated his investments in media. However, the crisis, obviously, did not lead to restrictions in the lavish spending in Irena Krasteva’s media group. This group has demonstrated for quite a while significant financial power.
Investigations of Mediapool and Bivol have shown that its acquisitions have been financed through loans from Tsvetan Vassilev’s Corporate Commercial Bank, KTB. A significant portion of the money of State enterprises is concentrated and deposited in this Bank. In an US diplomatic cable, written by former Ambassador John Beyrle, KTB is listed as one of the Bulgarian “Bad Apple” banks, practicing “money laundering by Bulgarian and foreign criminals and connected lending, which leaves legitimate investors and account-holders holding the bag when bad loans go uncollected.“
The media acquisitions of Irena Krasteva have been made possible precisely through such connected lending – loans to companies affiliated with KTB, as an investigation of Bivol about the start of her media empire reveals.
The editorial policy of these media is uniform. The newspapers Monitor, Telegraph, Novinar, Vseki Den, Politika, Weekend, Borba, Chernomorski Far, Maritsa, Struma, and the television channels TV7 and News7 are always friendly to the rulers, indicating that their purpose is not to inform, but to create media comfort for the people in power and to be used as bludgeons against business and political opponents of the group Vassilev-Krasteva-Peevski.
The vicious cycle “State money – media – political influence – State money Prim”, promulgated by KTB with the complicity of the State did not go unnoticed in Europe. At a hearing in the European Parliament in June 2012, the director of “Reporters Without Borders” Olivier Basil clearly outlined these relationships as a factor distorting the free media market and limiting press freedom.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian