Reporters Without Borders demands a full investigation into the horrific murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova and calls for her colleagues to be given protection.
Marinova, 30, who presented a current affairs programme on the TVNtelevision station, was brutally murdered in broad daylight on Saturday in the northern city of Ruse. The regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev told a news conference on Sunday that the body of the journalist, who had been trying to boost the station’s investigative coverage, was found in a park in the city. Investigators are looking for clues in both her personal and professional life.
“RSF urges the authorities to carry out a serious and thorough investigation to find the perpetrators of this heinous murder,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “We call for police protection to be provided for the TVN journalists who worked with Viktoria Marinova on the same sensitive report, pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Marinova’s last report was based on an in-depth story by investigative journalists of the Bivol website on large-scale fraud linked to the misuse of European Union funds. After the subject was first reported three weeks ago, RSF expressed concern at threats received by the Bivol journalists and called for their safety to be guaranteed.
“This murder was committed just a few days after Viktoria Marinova’s sensitive report was broadcast,” said Atanas Tchobanov, co-founder of the Bivol website. “We salute the courage of this journalist, the only one who was brave enough to speak out about the EU funds fraud in a report of this type on the airwaves.”
Marinova is the third journalist and the second woman to be murdered in an EU country in less that a year. Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in October 2017 when a bomb exploded under her car and investigative reporter Ján Kuciak was murdered in Slovakia in February this year.
RSF noted in a report published in July this year that investigative journalists are often subject to various types of pressure: from warnings, intimidation, “Sicilian” messages and defamatory campaigns to physical assaults on them and their property. There have been attempted murders, beatings, cars being set on fire or blown up.
In the World Press Freedom Index compiled by RSF, Bulgaria’s ranking has fallen from year to year and now stands at 1111th of 180 countries, the lowest of any EU country.