Brussels, 11 October 2017– The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) are concerned about recent threats to Bulgarian TV journalist Viktor Nikolaev made by politicians. The IFJ/EFJ join their affiliate, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ), in its call to end harassment of journalists and support freedom of expression in the country.
Viktor Nikolaev, journalist at NOVA TV, was threatened by former head of ruling political party GERB Anton Todorov and Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Simeonov during the live broadcast of his morning show on Friday 6, October. Both threatened that the journalist would lose his job if he continued to ask inconvenient questions about the purchase of fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force.
This incident immediately raised a wave of concern and indignation among journalists in Bulgaria. Anton Todorov resigned after posting an apology on Facebook, but Deputy Prime Minister Simeonov denies fault and is threatening legal action against Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National TV and NOVA TV organizing a scandalous campaign against him. The UBJ Managing Board President Snazhana Todorova considers it a “cynical threat”.
“The IFJ is concerned about every attempt to oppress media freedom and urges the Bulgarian government to respect, secure and guarantee freedom of the press for all journalists. We also require immediate action to be taken in response to the threats to our colleague Viktor Nikolaev. Such threats are acts of pure intimidation and have no place in a democratic society” said IFJ president Philippe Leruth.
“In a truly democratic state, such as Bulgaria, which is an EU member soon to take over the EU presidency, such a drastic and demonstrative attack against media freedom and journalists by a member of parliament from the ruling party and by a Deputy Prime Minister should have only one result – resignation. Threats from government against journalists are threats to our entire society because they violate their right to be informed of serious issues and processes of public interest,” said Snezhana Todorova.
A demonstration of Bulgarian journalists will be organised in front of the Council of Ministers building in Sofia on Wednesday 11, October.