Standard Prokopiev & Co. lies about Peevski

Vulture oligarchs exploit tragedies to steal and manipulate society

Delyan Peevski

Do you know what a vulture is? Textbooks teach us that it is a large bird of prey feeding on carcasses. Some people may be under the impression that this species can only be found in the animal kingdom. Alas, this could not be further from the truth. The difference is that while the animal vulture picks on dead meet to survive, its human counterpart greedily exploits every tragedy that strikes society to rack up points and achieve their goals, at the expense of that same society, of course.

Over the past few years, this phenomenon has manifested itself with increasing frequency in the Bulgarian media industry, and by extension the public sphere, for one mundane reason – a group of oligarchic publishers who were gifted their first million by their mentor former PM Ivan Kostov, aka the Commander, and who amassed the rest of their fortune walking all over thousands of people (and even corpses) and defrauding and devastating the life and health of Bulgarian taxpayers at one point recognised that retribution for their crimes was looming in the form of sentences and so turned the publications they either own or sponsor into a mechanism to clean up their dirty images and guilty consciences. They have transformed their media outlets into a shield against the judicial system and the truth, and are trying to make a fig leaf out of freedom of speech to hide their shame. The latest manifestation of this disgraceful trend in the Bulgarian media came on 1 December, when this entire machine for polluting the public air spewed out its latest dose of dirt, using as a pretext the agony of one of the oldest newspapers in the country.

What are the facts? A private enforcement agent is auctioning the trademarks of the newspaper group Standart to cover its debts. The notice is published on the website of the aforementioned enforcement agent and the trademarks and numbers listed are more than just pertinent information. The newspaper is not only among the oldest print media outlets that started out in the first years of the country’s democratic era, but one of the few that managed to stay afloat in the ensuing decades. Its agony is a tragedy for Bulgarian journalism, a tragedy for the entire Bulgarian society. And what do the oligarchic publishers do in this situation? They decide to spin it to their advantage and create the latest fabrication against one of their main enemies – lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. Because of a number of legislative initiatives, he has become a favourite target of the relentless smear campaign that is being conducted by the oligarchs through a string of publications and shows. One series of initiatives stopped the secondary plundering of CorpBank, through which the oligarchs tried to stuff their pockets after they lost their place at the state feeding rack. The other legislative package introduced complete transparency to the financing of the Bulgarian media. The radical shift is poised to expose all the bad apples in the media cart tangled up in financial ties to and serving the interests of those same oligarchic publishers.        

And so, first the website Bivol, whose connections to the Kremlin propaganda have been exposed by the Telegraph Media publications, and then the website Dnevnik, owned by the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, followed by Club Z, owned by the indicted pharmaceutical tycoon Ognyan Donev, copy-pasted the same lie – that Presgrupa Utro (one of the owners of Standart) is owned by Peevski through “figureheads”. This claim is fake news of the purest variety and it does not hold up against a simple visit to either the Bulgarian Commercial Register or the one in Austria, where the parent company of Presgrupa Utro is registered. Prokopiev and his cronies know that full well, considering their affinity to Austria and its capital, Vienna, in particular. This is probably why they did not ask their employees to fact check and publish the truth. For the same reason, they did not ask their employees to contact the owners of the press group, whose names are right there in both registers, waiting to be discovered. Because it would have revealed that Peevski has nothing to do with Utro.

The end game, however, is not to find the truth but to use the agony of a newspaper to script the latest episode of a campaign aiming to perpetuate, both domestically and abroad, the lie that Peevski controls the newspaper market in Bulgaria. This claim is given the lie to by another simple check – of the database of the National Statistical Institute, according to which, as of June 2019, there were 239 newspapers in Bulgaria, only six of which were owned by Peevski (the members of Telegraph Media). But why would Prokopiev, his oligarchic cronies and the media outlets funded by them want to assert differently? To hide the fact that they have been manipulation the public by using their own internet pawns and puppet TV hosts as mouthpieces for these and other lies. If you want proof, just peruse the shorthand records of the ARGOgate – the secret meetings between Prokopiev and his puppets in the fields of politics, NGOs and the media – where he openly admits to having control over the mainstream. A behind-the-scenes type of control, whose illumination is long overdue. And that will change with the disclosure of the financial connections of the publications in the country.

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