The non-profit organization – the Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ) – has been managed from “afterlife” for years. Bivol established that the journalistic organization that claims to be a strong moral leader is under suspicion of serious wrongdoing. The legitimately elected Chairman of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists, Milen Valkov, who alone had the power to represent the association, died on September 13, 2011. According to Article 21, item 2 of the Statute of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists from that moment on, Valkov is no longer a member of the organization due to his death. In reality, three years later, it appears that not only Valkov’s membership has not been terminated, but he also continues to effectively manage the journalistic NGO from the otherworld. An officially issued certificate of good standing by the Sofia City Court from September 12, 2014, shows that there is no change in its managing body. Valkov is still the Chairman of the Board. He is the only legitimate leader with all the ensuing powers before the law and the institutions. In his “absence”, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists is represented by its Secretary General Snezhana Tsokova Todorova – Fedotova. Naturally, the occurrence of death cannot be considered “absence”. In this case, there are other required actions and consequences that clearly do not apply to the Union of Bulgarian Journalists, because State institutions have been tangled in a cruel delusion.
Let’s mention the main activity, with which the UBJ is registered, because it is indicative – the Union should work for “the development of professional journalism in the Republic of Bulgaria; implement the established in journalism professional standards and rules of professional ethics; it should alert the competent authorities about violations of labor and social legislation; respect the rules of journalistic ethics, “etc., all along these lines.
Letter from the otherworld
“There is such organization.” De jure, the created during totalitarian dictatorship and under the Soviet model bureaucratic Union of Bulgarian Journalists is still a living entity. According to the Court’s registration of the non-profit association, it has very noble goals such as freedom of the right to seek, receive and disseminate information; the right to freely express and disseminate opinion; not allow censorship; adherence to professional journalistic standards, ethics, etc.
One will not find, however, visible public positions of UBJ regarding the serious current problems faced by Bulgarian media and journalism. These are the concentration of media ownership and institutional pressure on the media that led to the disgraceful 106th place of Bulgaria in the ranking of media freedom of “Reporters Without Borders”. The Union of Bulgarian Journalists has enough other worries, so why would it deal with some freedom of expression?
Inherited public properties for millions
The Union, as successor of the Communist political structure, manages properties, inherited for free from Socialist times. The most lucrative of them include one in downtown Sofia, a four-story building with a restaurant on Maxim Gorky Street in the affluent Sofia suburb of Bankya, and the International House of Journalists at the Golden Sands beach resort near the Black Sea city of Varna. The organization has undertaken the heavy mission to lease long-term “for the benefit of the people” and of the guild these properties and to absorb some large amounts of money.
The task does not seem to be trivial. The problem is, for example, to find a “tenant or investor for House 3 (Park Hotel) at the International House of Journalists in Varna”, which UBJ prominently reports in an ad on its site.
Another post tells how House 1 and House 2 are now repaired, but House 3 continues to embarrass us before foreigners, namely “Soviet” colleagues, who come on vacation there since the spring.
“Set in a stunning 45-decares park and a step away from the private beach with fine white sand, ten km from the sea capital Varna and in close proximity to the famous resort Golden Sands, the International House of Journalists is the perfect place for the ideal summer vacation,” reads the advertisement of the vacation complex.
A check in the company records shows that the management of the International House of Journalists is carried out by a Company under the Law of Obligations and Contracts “Summer 2013”, created on April 19, 2013. Partner of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists in this company is the company “Vigi Tours” with owner Georgi Petrov Nedyalkov.
However, who has signed the contract with “Vigi Tours” in 2013, after knowing that the Chairman of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists Milen Valkov has passed away two years earlier? It is written in the Statute of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists that “the Union of Bulgarian Journalists is represented before other parties by the Chairman of the Board, and in his absence or inability to perform these functions, they are performed by the Secretary General of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists”.
As evidenced by the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassations, a fatal end is not accepted by the law as “inability”. Four years after the start of the “great absence” of the Chairman, the Secretary General Snezhana Todorova – Fedotova, signs documents and concludes contracts on behalf of the dearly departed. However, even Valkov, along with the entire Board, turn to be secondary illegitimate because their statutory mandate has expired on March 11, 2014.
It is not clear how the Statute of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists is implemented, since it mandates the Board to report annually the work it has done and financial statements. It should have been mandatory to convene a General Assembly to decide on changes in the Management Board that occurred with Valkov’s death; to elect a new member and Chairman and to enter the changes in the documents of the Union through the Court. Separately, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists has an elected five-member Supervisory Board, which has the duty to supervise the activities of the Board. According to Article 45 of the Statute, each year the Supervisory Board must report to the General Assembly, convened by the organization. None of this has been done; the organization that owns this donated property, worth hundreds of millions, has been acting in an absolutely illegitimate way over the years and does not at all comply with the Bulgarian legislation. However, this is not a private gathering, but the professional structure of Bulgarian journalists.
The destroyed file of the secret services’ agent
We assume that a detail of the biography of the person signing on behalf of the late Valkov, the Secretary General of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists, can shed light on a series of questions regarding this comic-tragic situation. Snezhana Todorova – Fedotova is known by her agent’s codename from the Sixth Directorate of DS – Violeta. Our colleague has been recruited by retired officer Angel Dimitrov and was an active employee of the sinister political police – Sixth Directorate of the State Security, First Department, which spied on the artistic and scientific intelligentsia and the media. It is particularly significant that immediately after the fall of the Communist regime on November 10, 1989, an order has been issued for the complete destruction of the work and personal file of agent Violeta and all data about her activity from all files of the Ministry of Interior. This is symptomatic for the most valuable DS personnel and their future integration in the new conditions. Almost all agents of this caliber took key positions in the Bulgarian media and socio-political life in the last 25 years and are keeping them in present days.
The scandalous illegal situation has been maintained for years, totally consciously and with the complicity of all 14 members of the Board. A year after the mandate of the Board of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists has expired, a General Assembly, scheduled for March 14 to 15, 2015, has been after all convened. This has been done not because the members of the Board have shown delayed civil conscience, but because a case has been filed in Court in connection with the legitimacy of the journalistic association under the Law for Non-Profit Organizations. There is also an increasing resentment among the rank and file union members, who are beginning to realize the absurd situation. However, there is not even a single word about this event on the site of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists. It was promised there, back in 2011 that a legitimate General Assembly will be convened early “next year”, i.e. in 2012, and so on, and so on, until 2015. The information portal of the Union focuses on news and events from some other “Union” times. Articles from State Security agents such as Kevork Kevorkyan and red propagandist from the “Transition Period” alternate with frank pro-Putin propaganda and glorification of the Bulgarian-Soviet, sorry, Bulgarian-Russian friendship.
Eternal friendship, eternal service indeed! Or at least until the financial flows from the properties maintain the imitation of life of the “bad apple” UBJ, serving the status quo behind the scenes.
Bivol believes that the case must be immediately addressed by the responsible institutions – the Prosecution and the State Agency for National Security which must carry out a thorough probe into how in the last five years “the afterlife” has managed assets and properties worth hundreds of millions of levs and how come the professional organization of Bulgarian journalists was virtually outlawed.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian