Prokopiev betrays his ties to Bulgarian desk of Radio Free Europe

Ivo Prokopiev

“Stay strong, Cuba, Kula is with you!” With the benefit of hindsight, this socialist-era slogan created by a Bulgarian Communist Party Stakhanovite originally from the picturesque Bulgarian town of Kula, who aspired to the lofty goal of bringing down global capitalism in its clash with communist regimes, sounds just as ludicrous as it did back then.

This time around, though, it falls flat with the Bulgarian society as well and not just because it is the 21st century and the country’s democracy is already 30 years old, while the EU and NATO values are a geopolitical choice of the collective society.

And yet, it fits perfectly with the leftist roots and nomenclature connections of the indicted oligarch and publisher Ivo Prokopiev, who otherwise likes to present himself as a rightwing “white collar”. The slogan is also immediately conjured up as an association by the latest piece of writing ran by the news website Dnevnik, the megaphone of the Razgrad oligarch’s machine for media fabrications.

In a verbose article headlined “Director of Free Europe removed in outright purge”, Dnevnik is trying to undermine, at the command of Prokopiev, the decision of the new head of the US Agency for Global Media Michael Pack to fire the director of Radio Free Europe Jamie Fly as well as four other leaders of media organisations funded by the US Congress. The decision came down on Friday, when it was announced that, in addition to Fly, the heads of Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and the Open Technology Fund had been dismissed.

The moves come on the heels of a lengthy discussion about the way these organisations are covering American politics as a whole and the developments of their respective countries of operation, in particular. They also land in the wake of a series of accusations that these media outlets show clear bias in favour of the Democratic Party in their coverage of developments concerning American institutions as opposed to being objective by showing the position of the Republican Party as well. There has also been criticism that they engage in Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns and do not follow their main mission to strengthen their own country.

If you think you can find that context in the Dnevnik article, you could not be more wrong. Prokopiev’s website declares the moves “a purge” that threatens the independence of the media outlets in question. To support its claim, it packs the article with quotes from representatives of the Democratic Party. There is no mention of statements made either by the Republican Party or Michael Pack himself.

Pack took over the position following a Senate decision approving his appointment with votes from both sides of the aisle. He pledged to respect the independence of the publications’ teams of journalist and do everything in his power to “remove all obstacles” to their ability to cover the news objectively and a sense of fulfillment.

You might wonder why a Bulgarian publisher, something the indicted oligarch from Razgrad Ivo Prokopiev is disguised as, would want to run a huge, clearly biased article in Bulgarian that purports to be an analysis of a decision that concerns US media outlets funded with the American taxpayers’ money. The answer is pretty mundane – with this article, the Razgrad oligarch is trying to protect his own mainstream media machine and grant-funded feeding rack, which primarily takes the form of sponsorships from organisations linked to the main opponent of the incumbent US President Donald Trump and noted donor of the Democratic Party – George Soros.

It is for that reason that the headline focuses on the leadership change in Radio Free Europe (RFE), ignoring the rest of the moves. But in doing so, the oligarchic publisher unmasks himself, his entire machine for media fabrications and the RFE by essentially revealing that it has been a part of his so-called “mainstream” since its services in Bulgaria were renewed nearly a year and a half ago. The outlet is clearly more concerned with his interests and those of the other members of the behind-the-scenes clique in Bulgaria instead of the public’s interests.

This much is made obvious by even a cursory glance at the content of the Bulgarians desk of the RFE. It does not take much to conclude that under the conduction of Ivan Bedrov, a loyal acolyte of and mouthpiece for Prokopiev, the team of the Bulgarian desk of the RFE (made up mostly of former employees of media outlets affiliated with the Razgrad oligarch) is biased in its coverage of both the trial against the businessman and the charges filed against his shadowy cronies Tsvetan Vassilev, Ognyan Donev and Vasil Bozhkov in separate legal proceedings. It regularly runs articles attacking their enemies and promoting their campaigns against public institutions and their attempts to restore some sense of justice within society.

In geopolitical terms, the Bulgarian desk of the RFE constantly slams Trump by following talking points that Prokopiev & Co. feed their “mainstream”. This is how at the end of last week we got the absurd paradox of the Bulgarian desk of the RFE, which is funded with US taxpayers’ money, advertising a book offering scathing criticism of the US President Donald Trump, democratically elected by those same taxpayers, without including his viewpoint.

Even a primary school pupil would not find it difficult to understand the level of objectivity or lack thereof demonstrated here. Despite the fact that Prokopiev’s “mainstream” in Bulgaria and people and media outlets around the world thought to be affiliated with his mentor George Soros are doing their best to frame the leadership changes in Radio Free Europe and the rest of the media organisations funded by the US Congress as threats to those media outlets’ “objectivity”.

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