Indicted bosses whitewash their image with made-to-order reports about mafia
Two analytical materials are used as weapon against Peevski while the association of Prokopiev spreads laudations for the oligarchMonitor News Agency , Sofia
A synchronous attack launched in compliance with the secret services’ lege artis was carried out by the indicted bosses masked as Bulgarian publishers. In an attempt to whitewash their image they managed to publish two reports by the organisations which at first sight have nothing in common – the Center for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) and Reporters without Borders (RSF). Seemingly, the analyses target the mafia but there is not a word about it in these materials.
The reason is quite prosaic. Their contractors – Ivo Prokopiev, Sasho Donchev and Tsvetan Vassilev – try to kill two birds with one stone: to get rid of their ‘oligarch’ label, to pose as fighters against mafia and to hit their common enemy – lawmaker of the Movement for Right and Freedoms and our publisher, Delyan Peevski. At that, the person who waves the flag of combatting organized crime is no other but criminal defendant Ivo Prokopiev.
The attack is so shameful that these organisations resort to open lies reiterating the talking points of the oligarchy. For instance, in the report of the Reporters without Borders they write without a minuscule of evidence that ‘Peevski was leading cigarette producer’ in Bulgaria. Once again they try to slap on him a fictitious connection with Bulgartabac reiterating their favourite talking point about the imaginary tobacco monopolist. There is no evidence and no evidence can be furnished because Peevski has never had a majority share in this tobacco company and two years ago sold his minority share in the holding. This can be easily checked in the registers. Apparently, though, the Reporters instead of making reference in registers prefer to trust the lies of the indicted bosses and their paid pen pushers. It is also very easy to check that Bulgartabac has sold all of its brands to the international tobacco giant – BAT. This fact, however, was also conveniently omitted because it is not fitting for the attacks against Peevski.
The reports were not compiled by chance, moreover that they were published on the same date – 27 November. They betray the oligarchs’ and their mercenaries’ concern over the fact that heir masks of public benefactors will be torn off as there is recent evidence that it is happening now. Of late, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to justify investigations of their shady affairs as ‘attacks against freedom of speech’. That is why they commission analyses abroad and then circulate them via the Bulgarian mass media. All this is done to deliver a blow to a person who through media and legislative initiatives started to shed light on the real nature of the oligarchy. His name is Delyan Peevski. The aims of these analyses are complementary – while one of them wants Europe to allot more money for ‘independent’ journalism (a daydream of the Capital circle which for years fails to sustain its media outlets on the market principle because they do not sell – authors note), the other one explicitly shows to the public that Peevski is a ‘bad guy’ while the oligarchs’ media are ‘good’. But the truth is that the media outlets of our publishing group are the only publications which are not supported by grants, foreign foundations and Euro money. In contrast to the publications of the oligarchs whose readership is way down because they are lying, we rely on purely market financing principles – high circulation sales and advertising. The fact that Telegraph is the most read newspaper and Monitor is among the most influential ones proves that readers give us credit.
It is just owing to the reduced circulation of his and his cronies’ publications that Ivo Prokopiev made use of the fact mentioned in the report by the Commission for Protection of Competition that newspapers account for mere 5% of the news stream. The remaining 95% belong to the e-media and he laid hold on their mainstream via his key TV wing men. The latter is evident in the verbatim records of the ARGO-gate where Prokopiev himself admits that he can set the news agenda of the biggest TV channels in Bulgaria. In doing it he has full support of the man who literally presented the first million to him – Ivan Kostov. Kostov gave him Kaolin mining company and Damianitsa winery for peanut money. He created a matrix of media and NGOs to be able to control the public opinion after his fall from power. It is exactly this matrix that Prokopiev and other offspring of Kostov are currently using.
Who is talking?
The NGOs behind these reports, although they seem to be authoritative European organisations, are actually closely connected with certain political and economic circles in Bulgaria. Or, at least, their teams on the Bulgarian part which are behind this research as authors or sources of information.
The first analysis is titled ‘Monitoring of Media Pluralism’ and its chapter about Bulgaria is written by three authors of the Capital circle – the favourite lawyer of Ivan Kostov and current expert in media law, Nelly Ognyanova, head of the Media Democracy foundation sponsored by Kostov, Orlin Spasov and activist of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) in Bulgaria (which is also staffed by Prokopiev and others – author’s note) Nikoleta Daskalova. On the same day, another project in which she takes part, Newspaper about Newspapers of AEJ, published a panegyric to Prokopiev’s flagship publication, the Capital daily. The foreign NGO once and again was used for launching attacks against Peevski and then it became clear that it also employs a fosterling of Hristo Ivanov, seeker of power positions and current leader of Yes, Bulgaria party.
The second report titled ‘Journalists in the crosshairs of organized crime’ used as source of information the so-called investigative journalists of Bivol.bg. The authors of the site famous for racketeering mayors and businessmen complained to the Reporters without Borders that they fell victim to harassment because of their ‘disclosures’. Actually there is another reason to doubt the authenticity of the report – in it the brutally murdered TV anchor Victoria Marinova is included in the list of journalists who perished in the line of duty. Several months ago, when it transpired that the attempts by Bivol to use Marinova’s death as publicity gimmick are not based on evidence, the Reporters without Borders of their own accord crossed out Bulgaria from the list of countries where journalists were killed. Despite the fact that Bulgaria to this day was not entered into this list, the NGO had the cheek to warm up the Bivol’s concoctions about Victoria Marinova’s death.
The media outlets that spread the lies: Frognews, sponsored by fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, and Sega of gas oligarch Sasho Donchev.