The people vs the oligarchy

Facebook rises up against fake news that claims journalist was fired because of Peevski

Dark clouds gather over the oligarchs in Bulgaria. After years of dictating the country’s agenda through their media outlets, they are now seeing their well-oiled propaganda machine starting to squeak. The simple reason is that in an era of social media and easy access to information it is becoming increasingly difficult to deceive people.

This truth was on full display late on 9 May when the media machine of indicted oligarchs like Ivo Prokopiev, Tsvetan Vassilev, Ognyan Donev and Sasho Donchev disseminated its latest fake news item against lawmaker of the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. The manipulation was created by the Bulgarian desk of the otherwise highly regarded Radio Free Europe, while its author was until recently an employee of the website Mediapool, owned by former MP Ivan Kostov’s once spokesperson Stoyana Georgieva.

The fabrication alleges that Nova TV journalist Viktoriya Behar (who has not been working as a journalist for a while but as an administrative manager in the network – editor’s note) was fired because she asked a question about Peevski at a production meeting. Old and false talking points peek out from the article – like the one that the lawmaker controls Channel 3 (a circumstance that is easy to check in the Commercial Register but who cares about these things really – editor’s note) or that the new TV executive Milyana Veleva is a “person of Peevski”. The whole article is full of lies and even leaves the reader uncertain as to whether Behar was fired or quit of her own volition. The piece is based on sound journalistic sources of the a-woman-said type but that did not prevent it from spreading like wildfire through the media outlets of the indicted oligarchs. The oligarchy’s nonsense seems to know no end.

Something else is worth noting – the news was picked up as if on cue by the oligarchy’s minions on social media. Much to the surprise of the paid scribblers of the behind-the-scenes clique, however, their attempt at manipulation was shot down by the readers, who angrily commented that the article is the latest attempt of Ivo Prokopiev to set the Peevski smokescreen. They note that Nova TV is a privately owned network and its bosses are free to choose the people they work with.

“Oh, Capital, you are the last people who have the right to hint at problems in the media!!! Does the new owner have no right to select his own team?! The Labour Code allows him as much. Alas, democracy and rights do not suit everyone, especially Prokopiev,” writes a Facebook user in the comment section of the social media post of the oligarchs’ media flagship’s article.

“When Galya Prokopieva starts consulting others about who to fire and who not, then the owners of television channels might ask Economedia for its opinion on certain personnel decisions. By the way, the woman left on her own, but I guess all it matters to you is spreading fake news,” writes another angry reader of Capital’s lies.

According to many social media users, the stir that the oligarchs and their paid scribblers made over Behar is of the kind that the protagonist in the Ilf and Petrov’s novel The Golden Calf does by constantly roaming the streets and shouting “They are beating Panikovski!”

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