In hostile move, Bulgarian investigative website stripped of prize
Reporters Without Borders condemns a sudden act of hostility towards the Bulgarian investigative news website Bivol (Bivol.bg) by the Radostina Konstantinova Foundation, which describes itself as the guarantor of media freedom and independence in Bulgaria.
After awarding Bivol its prize for investigative journalism (the only prize of this kind in Bulgaria), the foundation has just withdrawn it on the grounds that the names of Bivol’s two journalists do not appear on the site.
In fact, as they explained to RSF, the two journalists, Atanas Chobanov and Assen Yordanov, are clearly named on the site although they use the joint byline “Bivol” on their stories.
The jury of well-known journalists that chose to award the prize to Bivol has publicly criticized its withdrawal by the foundation’s board, describing the decision as arbitrary. The foundation is named after a journalist who died in 2010.
Bivol’s award-winning investigation was about the secret properties of the Bulgarian cigarette manufacturer Bulgartabac and the construction of a Black Sea palace for Ahmed Dogan, a maverick politician of Turkish descent who leads the Turkish minority in Bulgaria.
“We condemn this act of hostility towards Atanas Chobanov and Assen Yordanov, two investigative journalists who were named as RSF information heroes in 2014,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk.
“The Radostina Konstantinova Foundation is trying to damage their reputation by using spurious and unacceptable arguments. The real problem was the embarrassment caused to certain Bulgarian politicians by the information they revealed.”
Bulgaria is ranked 113th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest position of any European Union member.