Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that Bulgarian criminal gang leaders are allegedly planning to murder Zov News website publisher Georgi Ezekiev and calls on the Bulgarian authorities to carry out an immediate investigation.
The alleged murder plan came to light earlier this month in the course of a joint investigation by Zov News and the investigative news website Bivol into a drug trafficking ring in which police officers are thought to be implicated. A person who used to be involved in this network told the reporters in a filmed interview that his former mafia bosses were planning to eliminate Ezekiev.
One of the reporters participating in this investigation, Maria Dimitrova, meanwhile received threatening messages by SMS and on Facebook. And shortly after Dimitrova managed to get one of the gang’s victims to talk to her, three unidentified men physically attacked her informant.
“We are very worried about the threats to website publisher Georgi Ezekiev and one of his reporters, who filed a complaint that was ignored by the police,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “The Bulgarian authorities must take these threats and attacks seriously, must do everything possible to protect the targets and must carry out a thorough investigation into this affair.”
Bulgaria is ranked 109th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest position of any European Union member.