The oligarchy and Der Standard standards of lying about Delyan Peevski

The standards of even the most credible publications can come crashing down when it comes to the Bulgarian reality and its fake-news-steered public consciousness. Examples abound. The latest, but surely not last, one comes courtesy of the online publication of Der Standard.

The “not last” qualification is necessary because for the Balkan correspondents of this generally viewed as credible Austrian media outlet it has become the norm to peddle lies and manipulations from its pages and digital edition. These are being spread in Bulgaria by following the talking points of indicted oligarchs like Ivo Prokopiev and Tsvetan Vassilev and their mainstream media machine for fake news.

This pattern of behaviour did not start yesterday, it goes back years. To be more specific, is started as early as the summer of 2014 when the Istanbul correspondent of Der Standard Markus Bernath showered the media outlet’s readers with the lies of fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, who had turned CorpBank into a financial pyramid and fled abroad with the billions he stole. For Bernath, it was not the truth that was important or the journalistic standards of his employer, but the incentives provided by Vassilev. That much was made obvious by his convincing performance in the role of a courtier journalist for the fugitive banker. Instead of asking Vassilev all the unanswered at the time questions about the plundering of the lender, Bernath simply used a series of articles to convey his lies about the CorpBank collapse as well as the libels against his main enemy – lawmaker from the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) Delyan Peevski. Six years on, the truth has long been established, the fugitive banker’s lies have long been exposed by facts and Tsvetan Vassilev is being tried, albeit in absentia, for syphoning off the lender. Meanwhile, there is no sign of Bernath having posted anything recent on the Der Standard website. But there are people there continuing his work.

In an article about the protests in Sofia, written by a different Balkan correspondent but using the same sources as Bernath, we once again find the manipulations spread by the orchestrators of the recent blockades carried out by a handful of people who paralysed the capital with their actions. Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the piece begins with an ode to the so-called Poisonous Trio, the pawns of the protests’ main sponsor – gambling tzar facing 18 felony charges Vasil Bozhkov, who is hiding in Dubai, from where he is pulling the strings of the public demonstrations with the help of oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, through the latter’s party Yes, Bulgaria, and of fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, through NGOs like Boets. The text contains a string of lies about the enemies of the trio of charged and indicted oligarchs. Chief amongst them is MRF lawmaker Delyan Peevski, who has been a wrench in the wheels of the oligarchs’ schemes with his legislative initiatives, whilst his publications have spent decades illuminating the shady deals of those criminal figures, who constantly steal from the entire Bulgarian society.

What is absurd in this case is that the article painting the “feats” and retranslating the lies of the three organisers of the protests – Tsvetan Vassilev’s family friend, attorney Nikolay Hadzhigenov; the “godfather of trolls” Arman Babikyan; and Capital circle’s favourite sculptor Velislav Minekov – appeared in the media outlets of the oligarchy’s mainstream fake news factory on the day that Bozhkov admitted in a Facebook video post that he supports the Poisonous Trio; Yes, Bulgaria; President Rumen Radev who is riding the wave of protests, etc. The admission comes several weeks after the revelations that Bozhkov was the one who is financing the attempts to incite riots. All of this can be found in English with a simple online search, that is, if foreign correspondents for the region actually wanted to create unbiased journalistic content sticking to truth and good practices. In the case of the Austrian publication, however, the high standards seem to crash down when it comes to the Bulgarian reality thanks to such articles. In other words, Der Standard is not living up to its name.

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