Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Bulgarian authorities to protect Dimitar Stoyanov, a journalist with the Sofia-based news website Bivol, and to provide a progress report on their investigation into the grave threats he has been getting for the past year.
Stoyanov and the other journalists at Bivol (Bivol.bg) have published several major investigative reports in recent months about alleged corruption, embezzlement of public funds and links between Bulgarian government officials and criminal groups.
However, the officials and oligarchs mentioned in these reports have been subjecting them to various kinds of harassment and intimidation with the aim of dissuading them from continuing their work.
A police investigation was opened into the grave threats Stoyanov has been receiving for more than a year, but he has not been told anything about the investigation’s findings. The threats have meanwhile grown steadily in intensity.
On 13 December, Stoyanov even received a summons to report to the police in Troyan (120 km east of Sofia) for questioning in connection with his story about the unexplained wealth acquired by Momchil Mondeshki, a lawyer implicated along with high-level politicians and judges in the so-called “Yanevagate” case of influence trafficking.
“We offer our full support to Bivol’s staff, who are the victims of an unprecedented campaign of harassment by the oligarchs and officials they have covered, and we request protective measures for Dimitar Stoyanov,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk.
Bivol’s journalists are well respected and, because the quality if its investigative reporting, one of its editors, Atanas Chobanov, was recently elected to the steering committee of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an international investigative reporting platform.
Bulgaria is ranked 106th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest position of any European Union member.