I am not afraid!

I am not afraid! I have been telling this to myself since Wednesday evening when I found out someone broke in my car, cut the wires and put all my personal items in plastic bags on the backseat. I am not going to lie, I was shocked (See here).

At 10 p.m., which is the end of my workday, I walked in the rain to my car, parked on the street next to our editorial offices, only to find it in a state that I can hardly put into words. Ever since that moment, I have been fighting the ominous feeling that the era of mobsters ruling the day, a time that should have been long in the past, is coming back with a vengeance – a slap to the face of Telegraph Media. Because this attack was not simply aimed at me, but at everyone who works for our media group and does what they love for a living – being journalists. I wish it was not true, but it is clear that the mobsters are no longer dormant.

For years, I have been part of one of the best teams of investigative journalists in the country. You have all read our investigations into oligarchs who made their first, second and even 100th million at the expense of regular people. I can name those individuals because I am not afraid. We live in a democratic country that observes rule of law and where mobsters cannot shut ordinary people up. I will not be silent, just as me and my colleagues were not silent when we wrote dozens of pages worth of investigations into Ivo Prokopiev, Tsvetan Vassilev, Sasho Donchev, Ognyan Donev and all the other protégés of (former PM) Ivan Kostov. We have written and continue to write about the crimes of Vasil Bozhkov and oligarchic clans known under family names – the Arabadzhievs, the Staykovs, the Banevs.

It goes without saying that none of those figures were too pleased with our revelations. Smear campaigns were organised against media outlets who refuse to stay silent and even the name of our country was dragged through the mud, as the oligarchs made it so that Bulgaria dropped to the 111th spot on a well-known free speech index. Generously paid pawns who officially live off of grants preached morality to us on Facebook (they are excellent online haters, a handful of people who otherwise tell each other how cool, “smart and beautiful” they are). They were earning dirty money by making a mockery out of journalism. SUVs, Jet Skis, planes – the oligarchs and their mouthpieces were getting richer and more shameless by the day.     

It would appear they have decided that the time has come to go after the irrepressible. They broke into my cheap car after earlier in the day slapping a note on it reading “You are in the way” – right outside my home, whose mortgage I will be paying for years to come, like thousands of Bulgarians. All of us here at Telegraph Media are in the way of the schemes, shady deals and despicable crimes sucking the lifeblood out of the Bulgarian people. But I am not afraid. Neither are my colleagues. Because we know that the ugly souls and the mobsters have no chance of winning. And not just in terms of journalism, but in the life of each and every one of us. Our society has long refused to live in an environment taken straight out of a low-budget 1990s music video and submit to the thugs and their bosses. Despite the incident with my car, I am not going to urge you to attend vigils for it (some time ago a “prominent journalist” gathered her colleagues for a silent protest outside a police station in response to her incinerated car, which was later revealed to have been set on fire because of her husband’s gambling debts) because any journalist doing his job honestly could found themselves in my shoes one day. In the shoes of all of us here at Telegraph Media, outside of whose offices we were sent a Sicilian-style, or better yet Balkan-style, signal that we are being too much trouble.

I feel sick because this despicable attack is unlikely to be the last. I am glad no one was physically hurt. We will not be discouraged either. Wires and cars can be cut and smashed, morals and conscience cannot. They also cannot be bought, dear oligarchs. And remember – I am not afraid. We are not afraid. I can only feel sorry for you because you are stuck in this world of intimidation while justice is already knocking on your door.                  

 

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