Soviet fashion: Radio Free Europe attacking Peevski once again

His candidacy for European Parliament unleashes a cannonade of manipulations

Delyan Peevski

A true Soviet-style nefarious operation against Delyan Peevski, lawmaker of the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and Telegraph Media publisher, was carried out recently by the Bulgarian desk of Radio Free Europe. The Bulgarian branch of the otherwise highly-regarded radio station yet again showed that it has not completely severed the umbilical cord with its former employers and still has propensity to execute their orders; to the detriment of Peevski, of course.

Using the tried-and-tested “chain scheme”, the website of Radio Free Europe in Bulgaria fired the opening salvo against the MP with an article worthy of being studied in journalism classes as the perfect example of public manipulation. Entitled “Can it be too much for the boy? Peevski’s influence on the legal system, to which the SJC (Supreme Judicial Council) turns a blind eye”, the text is a patchwork of various fabrications. The main insinuation is based on a remark made by the former chair of the Sofia District Court Metodi Lalov (who resigned before he can be ousted after several inspections found tens of financial violations in the court overseen by him – editor’s note) that he negotiated for his position with the head of the Supreme Administrative Court at the time Georgi Kolev and the former chair of the Sofia City Court Vladimira Yaneva. According to Free Europe’s telling of the story, Lalov said that Peevski showed up to the meeting. In reality, Lalov never uttered those words. The video accompanying the article clearly shows Lalov saying, “Then came in – because I preside over criminal cases I know what it means to be unable to prove certain facts, but this is really true – a corpulent politician entered the restaurant and sat on a nearby table. I think his appearance was a coincidence.” The name of Peevski is never mentioned in Lalov’s statement. However, it is attached by Free Europe to the story that the judge with dubious reputation is “unable to prove”. Despite the absence of evidence and facts, Free Europe plastered the lawmaker’s name in the article’s headline too. The text was almost immediately copy-pasted by the website Dnevnik and later by other publications affiliated with political and economic circles in Bulgaria.

The manipulation itself is created with the sole purpose of insinuating that Peevski influences appointments in the judicial system – an absolute lie that in this case is like the anecdote about the thief crying “catch the thief”. The truth is that the article is designed to draw attention away from the real “head of personnel department” in the judicial system – the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, who for years has been trying to dictate the decisions in that branch of government through the chair of the Supreme Court of Cassation Lozan Panov and his puppets in the courts of lower instance.

The author of the Radio Free Europe article is a former employee of the website Mediapool, which is affiliated with the Capital circle and owned by former PM Ivan Kostov’s once spokesperson Stoyana Georgieva. The video of Metodi Lalov’s statement is from the infamous conference held a week ago by two NGOs with open and close ties to the indicted oligarchs Ivo Prokopiev and Tsvetan Vassilev and boasting as its guest speaker Lozan Panov. The event’s organisers blatantly violated freedom of speech by literally turning away some of the media outlets that wanted to attend it, citing as reason that they are not part of “the right media” because they are critical of Panov, his oligarchic mentors and other compromised members of the political circles in Bulgaria. In the end, no one with critical eye managed to witness Lalov’s statement and ask him follow-up questions like “Who is the person you are referring to?” and “Is it acceptable for a judge to play on the ‘bad guys’ team’ (as Lalov himself says in the video – editor’s note) just so he can snatch a high-ranking position?”

Meanwhile, the latest cannonade of manipulations against Delyan Peevski came on the same day that the MRF officially presented Peevski’s candidacy for member of the European Parliament. The prospect of the MP going to Brussels must be highly disturbing for the shadowy structures in Bulgaria because they seem dead set on utilising every manipulative tactic in their arsenal against him.

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