Factory squeezes fake news against Peevski for 3 days (SUMMARY)

Sasho Donchev

An absolute clinic on how to squeeze everything out of a fake news item was put on by the media outlets of the slandering machine of the oligarchic publishers in Bulgaria. Against every journalistic logic (when it comes to these publications, journalism is not their real trade), but completely on brand with the propaganda they are so good at, the cogs of the Fake News Factory started the week by dusting off an old lie. It is about non-existent ties between Bulgartabac and lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. By the looks of it, they plan to finish the week the same way – regurgitating an old and absolutely false concoction of a story.

The latest campaign against Peevski, who has become the №1 enemy of both these media outlets and their owners because of his legislative initiatives regarding CorpBank and transparency of online media funding, started on 26 February. Feedstock was provided courtesy of the information that Bulgartabac is calling a general meeting of shareholders to change its name. This otherwise strictly economic event was quickly exploited by the slandering machine for propaganda and political agenda purposes. In under an hour, the cogs of the machine created by the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev and his cronies Tsvetan Vassilev, Ognyan Donev and Sasho Donchev flooded the internet with half a dozen fake news items, absurdly dragging the name of Peevski into their articles about the renaming of the tobacco holding. Peevski has not had anything to do with the company since 2016, when he sold his 5% minority stake in it. However, that fact has not stopped the oligarchic publishers’ media outlets from attaching not only non-existent ties with the company to the lawmaker but even control over it – a tradition that was observed in this latest case as well. The tone was set be Ivo Prokopiev’s media flagship Capital, while the rest of the oligarch’s affiliated websites – Dnevnik and Mediapool (owned by Stoyana Georgieva, who used to be a spokesperson for former PM Ivan Kostov) swiftly followed suit.

The chorus was even joined by bTV, whose news programme embellished the information about an upcoming general meeting of Bulgartabac shareholders with a ludicrous hotch-potch involving Peevski’s name. No facts were mentioned, of course.

On 27 February, that same fake news about the renaming of the tobacco holding, at that point old (even by the genre’s standards), was picked up by Frognews. The website of Ognyan Stefanov (formerly agent Academician of the State Security), which has been playing the role of a press office for the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev for years, was a day late to join the campaign. To catch up, Frognews decided to embellish its manipulative material. In addition to announcing that Peevski conducted a modern version of the “revival process” with Bulgartabac, Frognews offered a conspiracy theory. According to it, the entire move was driven by a lawsuit in New York – another favourite talking point of the Fake News Factory against the lawmaker. Let us remind that, starting in 2017, Vassilev and his mouthpieces of Frognews relentlessly inflated the fake news balloon about the absurd claim filed by the fugitive banker under the Magnitsky Act. After that balloon quite expectedly burst, they started inflating another one, this time about a claim under the RICO act, whose outcome is also a foregone conclusion.

Running the fake news in the different cogs of the oligarchic machine, however, continued a third day, when Dnevnik came back to it. Pretending to offer an “analysis” of the information about the renaming of Bulgartabac, the website of Prokopiev actually repeated all of the abovementioned talking points, adding to them one from the pantry – just as stale as the others. It is about Bulgartabac being “involved in contraband cigarettes according to a report sent to Interpol by the Turkish Agency for Combating Organised Crime”. The topic of the report in question was actively exploited by the Fake News Factory a year ago until the Turkish services’ response to an enquiry by the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office was revealed. It said that the activities of smuggling cigarettes were related to specific brands, but it was never mentioned that Bulgartabac was the producer of these brands, and that there was no evidence of a crime or conducted investigations into the company. Naturally, those details are not mentioned in the latest fake news on the topic, as they destroy the talking point supported by the author of the Dnevnik article – that the report was glossed over in Bulgaria because, you see, the security services protect Peevski.

What is the reason behind chewing on the same fake news for days? It all has a singular purpose – to make it so that a Google search of Peevski’s name calls up all kinds of defaming articles in order to convince readers that he is to blame for everything, even last year’s snow. The latest strategy of the Fake News Factory is to use every possible event as a source material for fabricating fake news against the lawmaker. So, over the past few days, in addition to the Bulgartabac renaming case, Peevski’s name was also maliciously attached to parliamentary debates on the reduction of the salaries of MPs boycotting the National Assembly’s work. The discussions were prompted by the decision of the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s legislators to not participate in sessions and therefore not perform their duties as elected MPs. The ongoing parliamentary drama is strictly between the ruling coalition and the BSP, but the slandering machine’s publications throw Peevski’s name, a Movement for Rights and Freedoms lawmaker, in there. It is worth noting that he became the №1 target of Bulgarian oligarchs and the media they fund namely because of his legislative initiatives. Of course, this is conveniently omitted by the publications of the Fake News Factory.

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