July 26, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Police attack journalists covering protest outside parliament

Reporters Without Borders condemns police violence against at least seven journalists and a blogger who were covering the demonstration outside parliament in Sofia on the night of 23 July that prevented around 30 parliamentarians, three ministers and several journalists from leaving the building.

As tension between the government and demonstrators mounts after more than 40 days of peaceful protests, Reporters Without Borders urges both the authorities and protesters to guarantee the safety of journalists and other news providers.

Reporters Without Borders also calls on the Bulgarian police and judicial system to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the cases of violence so that those responsible can be brought to justice.

The victims of police violence outside the parliament building included Rossen Bossev, a journalist with the weekly Capital, who has hit in the waist by policemen. When he went to complain to the officer in charge of the operation, the officer asked him: “Haven’t they hit you enough?”

Darik Radio reporter Valentin Grancharov was beaten over the head with batons. As Kiril Haralanov of the OFFnews website was filming this, he was forced to the ground and beaten by another policeman.

Blogger Ivo Bozhkov was filming the police violence when he was thrown to the ground and repeatedly kicked. He sustained serious injuries and still has internal bleeding.

Kanal 3 journalist Cvetan Fikov was harassed by the police while filming the lifting of the blockade and the evacuation of the parliamentarians. When he showed his press card, a policeman punched him the mouth, leaving him with a split lip.

Another journalist, Ivan Bedrov, said police officers kept on trying to smash his camera with their batons. The camera finally broke when it fell to the ground. Two bTV cameramen, Blagoi Momchilov and Dani Draganov, were also hit by policemen who simultaneously tried to get at their equipment.

Bulgaria fell seven places to be ranked 87th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. This is the lowest ranking of any European Union member.