Bivol’s publications about the European grant received by the company of Monika Stanisheva, wife of the leader of the Party of European Socialists (PES), Sergei Stanishev, have adhered to the rules of bona fide journalistic investigation and good journalistic practice. Our website has posted verified information of significant public interest about a public figure, who cannot reasonably claim that the articles have aimed only at harming her. The articles did not contain insulting qualifications which could cause moral damages.
On these grounds, the Sofia City Court dismissed in August 2016 Monika Stanisheva’s claims for moral damages estimated at 56,000 levs, caused by two articles published in Bivol at the end of 2013. The wife of the PES leader, who is a PR expert, has estimated at 26,000 levs the damages caused by the article “Monica Yosifova Absorbing €60 000 of EP Money by the Use of Free and Bugged Software and Template for $60” and at 30,000 levs the article “In 2014, the EP is launching internet trolls with “talking points” for the European elections“. Bivol was represented in court by the well-known human rights activist – lawyer Alexander Kashumov from “Access to Information Program”.
These two articles are part of our series of publications on the topic “Grant Gate” – the revelation that the company of Monica Stanisheva “Active Group” has won a grant of 60,000 euro to promote the upcoming elections for European Parliament. At that same time, she was the live-in girlfriend of Stanishev, with whom she had a child. Bivol examined these facts in the light of suspicions of conflict of interest and led a long correspondence with the European institutions to request documentation on the case. It emerged that Monika Yosifova-Stanisheva had not signed a declaration of absence of conflict of interest.
Finally, in February 2014, Monika Stanisheva announced she was returning to the European Parliament the so far-received 30,000 euro from the grant and was terminating the project. A little more than a year later, she sued Bivol for approximately the same amount. In fact she wanted us to pay her back for the returned grant money.
According to the plaintiff, both articles have embarrassed her personally and publically; she has suffered stress and confusion and had felt vulnerable. “She had become a more guarded person; did not want to see other people; has avoided meetings with relatives and clients. She had shared that she felt upset, stained, shocked by the nature of the publications.” The judges further explain that she has avoided going to the office, which has affected her business.
All this lasted at least six months, until the spring – middle of 2014. Right at that time, the European Parliament was shaken by a classic political scandal over Bivol’s “Grant Gate” revelations. The media omerta remained successful until the end of 2013, to the extent of even censoring the presentation of Bivol journalists Assen Yordanov and Atanas Tchobanov before the Council of Europe, which included evidence of the criminal past of current Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (the so-called “Buddha” file) and information on Monika Stanisheva’s grant. But the situation changed dramatically after the publication about the grant in the prestigious German magazine Der Spiegel. It was followed by two parliamentary questions to EP President Martin Schulz, which he failed to answer. (See here)
“European Parliament staff under the direction of Socialist President Martin Schulz handing out a contract worth €60,000 to the wife of the European Socialist Party President – this smacks of political favours,” German MEP Ingeborg Grässle and EPP spokeswoman in the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee stated.
Ultimately, because of the flaring international scandal and probably not to sabotage the reelection of her husband at the helm of PES, MoniKa Stanisheva dropped the grant and declared she was returning the money to the European Parliament.
PM Borisov labeled the above “shame for Bulgaria”, therefore scoring politically from our revelation, despite the fact that we had exposed him as a former organized crime figure. It is funny that just a year earlier Borisov publically snarled, exactly like Stanishev, that reading the disclosures of Bivol was not worth his time.
For us and for our local and international readers this is direct recognition of our independent and quality work. Now this is recognized formally by the Bulgarian court as well.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian