The Bulgarian TV presenter and administrative Director of the regional TV network TVN Victoria Marinova was killed in the city of Ruse. On the eve of the broadcast she spoke about the corruption schemes, which uncovered her colleagues.
Local media reported that Victoria Marinova ran in the city Park along the banks of the Danube. At first, the police said that the cause of death was head injuries and suffocation, later the Minister of internal Affairs Mladen Mladenov said that the murder was “extremely cruel”, OCCRP reports.
Marinova launched a TV show called “Detector” in September and the last broadcast was an interview with two journalists Attila Biro and Dimitri Stoyanov. They work in the publication “Buffalo” and last month they, according to them, witnessed how one of the consulting companies in a mass order exported and unichtozheli documents. This company allegedly specializes in the selection of contractors for the implementation of European projects. The investigation of journalists was called #GPGate: they found out how the distribution of funds from the EU funds, whether there is a corruption component and whether there are “leaks” of funds into the pockets of Bulgarian businessmen and politicians.
This firm, journalists believe, saves on materials and works, makes false estimates for investors, pays bribes to officials of local administrations, and withdraws unspent money to offshore.
Stoyanov and Biro even had to spend seven hours at the police station after they followed their informant and witnessed how important documents related to the #GPGate investigation were burned in a field 50 km southwest of the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Marinova and producer Ivan Stefanov went to Hitrino this week to cover the #GPGate investigation. According to Atanas Chobanov, editor, “Buffalo” , Hitrino is one of the places where the alleged suspects in #GPgate won suspicious auctions.
TVN was one of the few Bulgarian media outlets to report on the Buffalo investigation. While the authorities have not indicated that the murder of Marina associated with her work.
“Investigative journalism in Bulgaria is full of contradictions, – said Marinova in her last broadcast. – On the one hand, the government and corporate global pressure strongly influence media owners and the media themselves. The number of prohibited topics is constantly growing. Investigative journalists are systematically removed. On the other hand, we have seen many undeniably successful investigations in recent years.”
In response to the brutal murder Of Marina Chobanov said that “Buffalo” does not trust the Bulgarian authorities, who have already proved that they do not want to investigate the widespread corruption scandal GPGate, which was mentioned in the last broadcast Victoria. “We call for EU support and immediate police protection of Victoria’s colleagues,” he said.
Drew Sullivan, OCCRP’s editor-in-chief, also condemned the murder, writing on Twitter that OCCRP is calling for an independent investigation into Marina’s murder. International officials called on the authorities to conduct a prompt investigation into the murder of Marina.
“I am shocked by the terrible murder of journalist Victoria Marinova in Bulgaria,” said OSCE representative on freedom of the media Arlem Desir. Desir noted the trend of increasing violence against women journalists.
EU Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality Vera Jourova wrote on Twitter : “I will closely monitor the investigation and offer assistance from the EU agencies, if necessary. I expect urgent action to bring the perpetrators to justice and clarify whether this attack is related to her work.”
Marinova is the third journalist killed in the EU this year, and the fourth last year and half. Daphne Caruana Galicia from Malta was killed by a bomb in October 2017, allegedly in connection with her investigative work on Maltese corruption. Jan Kuchak from Slovakia was killed in his home in February for his work on alleged financial crimes. In August 2017, the journalist Kim Wall was also assassinated, illuminating the history of Norway.