“I attribute this attack entirely to my investigative reporting and to the warnings I sent to the authorities about the management of finances by the Cherven Bryag municipal government,” Geshov wrote in a Facebook post a few hours after being beaten in the stomach and back by an unidentified assailant.
“Despite the pain and many bruises, I am sure that I will not abandon my work, and the attack against me is a sign that I am right,” he added.
Geshov writes for the regional investigative reporting website Za Istinata, works with the journalistic online platform “About the Truth” and hosts a programme called “On Target” that is available on YouTube.
He began being harassed after a series of articles about municipal government irregularities in Cherven Bryag in which he claimed, inter alia, that three municipal councillors were using European Union funds to renovate their homes.
Public awareness of Geshov was enhanced by a recent report about his work in which he mentioned all the harassment to which both he and his family have been subjected since his revelations about alleged embezzlement of public funds in Cherven Bryag.
“This attack is indicative of the degree to which investigative reporters are now being targeted by groups that want to silence them and impose terror,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “We hail the swift reaction of the police and medical services, but the Bulgarian authorities must also provide physical protection to journalists who, like Hristo Geshov, are the targets of threats of this kind.”
Attacks on journalists have escalated in recent months in Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. In the past ten years, Bulgarian has fallen from 36th to 111th out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index, the lowest ranking of any EU member state