Grant-funded report exposes the mainstream of Capital circle

All critics of the behind-the-scenes players in the judicial system are black-listed in the report

Lozan Panov

The grant-funded report prepared by the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BILI), an NGO of the failed minister of justice and clueless politician Hristo Ivanov, commissioned by the grant-dependent and non-representative of the judicial system Bulgarian Union of Judges (BUJ) has exposed the mainstream of the mainstream media under control of indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev.

The obvious objective set in this report is to use it for whitewashing the image of the BUJ and as a battering ram against those who criticise behind-the-scenes servants of Themis as well as against the media outlets which show the dark side of the judicial system in Bulgaria. As regards this particular case, it is even more absurd that the report can be commissioned by a union of judges but financed with the money provided by the Kingdom of the Netherlands which hardly realises that its grant will not be spent on reforming the judicial system but on defending the backstage players in it.

Several years ago, Ivo Prokopiev claimed that he controls the mainstream through figurehead journalists in the nationwide media (which the shorthand records of the ARGOgate affair confirm), through small-circulation publications of the Capital circle and pocket spokespersons and thus can dictate the public agenda. A whole series of such media which openly cater only for the interests of the oligarch, his partners, who are also either indicted or are on trial, and the judges who service them are actually listed name by name in this report titled “Media Monitoring and Analysis of Attacks against Court”.

“The monitoring shows that in such media outlets as Sega, DeFacto, Mediapool, Club Z and Dnevnik the attacks on court are presented in a non-partisan and objective manner,” write the report’s authors and even define what “objective” means, according to the criteria of the Capital circle.

“There are numerous materials in which the statements by public figures are subjected to critical analysis, refuted or specifically referred to as attacks on the independence of the court.” Put in other words: the media outlets sustained by Prokopiev, pharmaceutical tycoon Ognyan Donev, natural gas oligarch Sasho Donchev and spokesperson for Ivan Kostov Stoyana Georgieva are “objective” because they defend heroically and wholeheartedly a score of judges in their ward who kiss the rod of their masters. Among the magistrates who won “media immunity” are the ill-famed chair of the Supreme Court of Cassation Lozan Panov (who often violates the Constitution being more a politician than representative of the Law – Ed.’s note) and several persons faithful to the “mother-party” (Democrats for Strong Bulgaria of Ivan Kostov and its derivatives, Yes, Bulgaria and Democratic Bulgaria – Ed.’s note), such as Kalin Kalpakchiev, Miroslava Todorova, Atanaska Disheva, etc.

However, for some mysterious reason, the report doesn’t quote all the nefarious attacks which the mainstream publications of Prokopiev launch against the judicial system. For instance, the public lynching of Judge Petya Krancheva who indicted and convicted for libel one of the key pen pushers of the oligarchy, Rosen Bosev. For over a month the judge was virtually crucified in the online editions of the behind-the-scenes clique for withstanding their pressure and not removing herself from the case. This example is omitted in the description of the “objective” media.

Neither does the report quote all the attacks published in those media against the judges who refused to humour fancy of the oligarchs controlling the mainstream. Such as, for instance, the vehement attacks on the judges who imposed restraint on Ivo Prokopiev following the request of the Anti-Corruption Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (ACCIAF), the legal analyses of his lawyers which are presented in a biased manner in the fanlike behind-the-scenes media outlets and the attacks on the judges of administrative courts who reject their claims.

Certainly, the report does not quote the unending attacks, again launched by the mainstream media, against the other part of the judicial system – the prosecution. You will not find in it the statements of dozens of lawyers (judges among them – Ed.’s note) saying that Panov on a regular basis violates the law, attends political events and delivers political speeches or that the latter was indicted for failing to mention his house in a tax return form, etc. You will not find out that although the report was commissioned by the UBJ its authors defend only members of this organisation along with the guru of the grant-dependent “priests of Themis” Lozan Panov.

At the same time, on the “other side” are all media which unlike the abovementioned editions to this day are the leaders in terms of credit their readers give them (this fact can be readily checked in the statistics of their circulation and traffic rankings – Ed.’s note) but the battering report quotes them in the “partisan and biased” category. Only because they always ground in facts their criticism and, in contrast to the “mainstream”, do not serve the media ambitions of the indicted oligarchs. So, if you draw information about media environment in Bulgaria only from this report you will not find out that a year ago the Bulgarian dailies launched a joint initiative Justice in the Light which enabled the judges to voice their stands in courtroom when sentences were pronounced. This made possible the victory over the monopoly which the BUJ and some other pawns of the oligarchy in the judicial system have been holding in the debates on transparent law enforcement. The idea of the Justice in the Light was proposed by the editions of Telegraph Media, Monitor, Telegraph and Politika with the support of the big Bulgarian daily newspapers, such as 24 Hours, Trud and Standart. After the dialogue with representatives of the judicial power it was also supported by judges.

The report fails to mention that court upheld the indictment against Telegraph Media just because the case incidentally was heard by the members of the BUJ. Same as the case with one of the BUJ leaders, Krasimir Mazgalov who indicted Monitor and Telegraph for making public the criminal record of Lozan Panov’s wife Betty. Despite the fact that these dailies published the documents provided by the Ministry of Interior proving that the Black Swan (as Hristo Ivanov called her – Ed.’s note) has police record, the newspapers were indicted for libel. Neither does the report mention the fact that Telegraph, the newspaper with the largest circulation in Bulgaria, was deprived of its trademark by virtue of the prosecutors’ ruling. This unprecedented encroachment on freedom of speech was not covered in due order by the “objective media” of the mainstream. It was not mentioned in the report of BUJ/BILI either.                                     

But the attempts to muffle Telegraph cannot be covered up. Same as there is no way to avoid the question why such inexplicable things always happen to the editions of Telegraph Media. For instance, the sentences for libel quoting the articles which only tell the truth grounded in facts. Or the decision to revoke the trademark of the most widely read Bulgarian newspaper. Most likely the cause lies in two facts – first, the editions of Telegraph Media on a regular basis expose the scandalous co-dependency of the oligarchy, Themis and other powers in Bulgaria and second, that publisher of Telegraph Media and lawmaker of the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms Delyan Peevski for years now has been the stumbling block for the behind-the-scenes clique. On whose demand the abovementioned report was compiled does not transpire from the very report but from the press release of the UBJ in which the Union openly admits that the allegedly independent BILI report was commissioned by the UBJ and paid with the money provided by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We can only guess whether the money donors who funded the analysis are aware that they pay not for the objective monitoring of media environment in Bulgaria but for whitewashing the image of a handful of ill-famed magistrates exposed for their dependency on backstage powerbrokers. But probably there is a reason why the report’s authors fail to mention the fact that it was commissioned by the BUJ. At least because this is a sheer conflict of interests to commission a report that will contain a final statement claiming that you are a “victim of media attacks.” 

And the authors are also well aware that experts in Brussels, who are the apparent target of this manipulative creation, would immediately see this conflict of interests in a different light. Prokopiev&Co resort to such reports also because the media funded by them have public credit which is insignificant and they cannot influence public opinion in any way other than foreign pressure. 

The Capital circle got used to controlling the public agenda in the last three years through media manipulations practiced solely for catering to the interests of their money donors. This media policy has led to the erosion of public credit to this editions because the community can no longer be a hostage of oligarchic interests and at the same time pay for reading those editions.  This, in turn, resulted in disappearance of large groups of paper editions which have switched to online publishing (owing to lack of markets that would be ready to pay for such manipulative content.) The oligarch-publishers are greatly annoyed by the media which still enjoy high readers’ interest, which, in contrast to free of charge random clicks on the Internet, results from the market demand for better media products. This situation causes two serious problems for the Capital circle – as long as no one reads their publications they cannot manipulate the society and rake money for this same manipulation. To solve this problem they resort to the simplest weapon of black PR experts – undermining public trust to winning products. Such reports have one goal – to put under common denominator all those who refuse to sing along with the oligarchy, qualifying them as “low-quality propaganda media”. Regardless of the fact that the publications listed in the report “on the other side” are actually very different, both in their editorial policies and media content. To the grant-dependent these publications look the same simply because they do not comply with their basic concept – brainwashing.

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