Yet another attack on a journalist еxposes rule of law failure
The brutal attack on Bulgarian journalist and editor-in-chief of the 168 Hours newspaper Slavi Angelov on 17 March, 2020, exposed the failure of the Bulgarian rule of law in one of its main duties: to ensure the security and rule of law. This is how Pavel Antonov, managing editor and co-founder of BlueLink, analyzes the bloody crime in an editorial on our electronic publication Euromegdan.
The text, entitled For journalists to survive, expresses the institutional position of BlueLink, whose mission is to safeguard democracy and the values of a united Europe.
A violent attack of this scale - with pipes and kicks in the head, of a lively city center - could not easily be swept under the carpet, the author points. But it is far from an isolated case, as pressure and more inconspicuous attacks on journalists are a daily occurrence. They begin with the petty daily compulsion to distort and obscure the truth according to the interests and whims of media owners and their political clients. They go through the humiliation and neglect of self-imposed rulers and oligarchs, who call journalists "oligophrenic", "misery" or "fake news" - while actually forcing them to be. It comes to the direct threats on the air and the abhorrent hints of your colleague's "vacant chair" and the direct elimination of inconvenient air and work. \
The lack of results from the investigation into the ouster of journalist Silvia Velikova in October 2019 and the subsequent suspension of the Horizon program is a clear example of the state's inability to counter all this.
The strikes on Slavi Angelov echoed distinctly, like bloody slaps on the European claim of government. They told all Bulgarians: “The journalist is defenseless! Think about it!”, Antonov wrote.
The text expresses the opinion of the BlueLink Foundation that the successive PR statements of the management politicians and the prosecutor general are insufficient. In order for crimes against journalists to cease, the government must:
- end political dependence on institutions and government bodies, including - and first of all - investigative and judicial institutions and prosecutors;
- rebuild them for the benefit of the citizens and their rights and security, not the managerial situation as it is now;
- ensure independent and effective justice; and last but not least
- stop the media being seized, funded and exploited as tools for manipulation, propaganda and blackmail.
Depriving the media of independence and social responsibility is the first and most effective step towards eliminating journalism, Antonov concludes. He expresses confidence that the police will capture the criminals and the court will punish them fairly, as well as Slavi Angelov's wish to overcome the attack with intact health and journalistic spirit.
BlueLink a partner and aspiring member to the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom in Leipzig.
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