GERB, “Vazrazhdane” and BSP demanded that the Bulgarian state intervenes in the case with the inclusion of names of Bulgarian citizens in a list of enemies of Ukraine, published on the Ukrainian site “Myrotvorets” (Peacemaker).
Since 2018, the “Myrotvorets” list has included people from pro-Russian circles in Bulgaria, such as journalists Veliana Hristova, Velislava Dareva and Elena Yoncheva (currently MEP), ABV leader Rumen Petkov, analyst Valentin Vatsev, BSP member Vanya Dobreva, “Ataka” leader Volen Siderov, former BSP MP Prof. Ivo Hristov and others. From 2022, the name of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Kristian Vigenin from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the former TV7 journalist Dilyana Gaitanjieva appear there.
In “Myrotvorets” they do not present arguments why Dilyana Gaitanjieva is part of their blacklist, but in 2017 she participated in a special report on the Russian television channel “Rossiya 24” – “Россия 24”- “Болгарский поток”, which suggested that Bulgaria, in tandem with the United States, has become the main transit point for the supply of weapons to ISIS and the Middle East. She later published material on “American biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine and Georgia”, based entirely on Russian sources and documents.
It was because of her complaint that she was included in the list that the topic began to circulate in the public space. First of all, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists announced that Gaitanjieva was included in the list of enemies of Ukraine on the “Myrotvorets” website and called on the Bulgarian and Ukrainian authorities to pay special attention to the case, since the media “discloses personal data, violates basic legal norms in the EU and threatens the rights and security of many people, including European citizens.” It should be noted, however, that the head of the union, Snezhana Todorova, is a former agent of State Security, and the website of the union has become a conduit for Russian propaganda for years.
After that, the topic was also taken up by the pro-Russian formations in the parliament. Already on Tuesday, the leader of “Vazrazhdane” Kostadin Kostadinov demanded a reaction from the state on the subject and today the leader of BSP Kornelia Ninova came out with the same call.
The two formations, independently of each other, announced that they would send a signal to the National Security Service to investigate the case. “Vazrazhdane” added that they will ask the prosecutor’s office to intervene and will send a letter to President Rumen Radev insisting that the National Guard Service offer protection to the people included in the list.
The leader of BSP added that she will demand that the services appear in the relevant committee, which will be convened for an extraordinary meeting today. She insisted that the Bulgarian state and the Ukrainian ambassador contact the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. The deputy chairman of the party, Kristian Vigenin, added that he is not afraid, but is “disappointed and surprised that the Bulgarian state has not taken any action for 2-3 days”.
Earlier in the day, GERB leader Boyko Borissov also took a stand on the topic. He stated that during the meeting of the foreign policy committee, of which he is the chairman, he assigned the Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel and the Deputy Foreign Minister Elena Shekerletova to investigate who is behind the site.
“It is absolutely inadmissible for journalists, Bulgarians and the deputy speaker of the parliament to be on that website, so we all took this decision. So we expect the external commission and the services to answer us who is behind all these people,” explained Borissov.
A day earlier, the head of state Rumen Radev commented on the topic without being specifically asked about it. He recalled that when the Russian state issued threats to the journalist Christo Grozev, the state acted immediately to guarantee his safety and stated that he expects the Bulgarian government to finally take a stand on this case.
The Ukrainian embassy also issued a comment on the case, stating with a position on Facebook that “Myrotvorets” is an independent information resource of a public initiative of the Center for Researching the Signs of Crimes Against Ukraine’s National Security, the Peace and Security of Humanity and the International Legal Order, and is in no way related to the work of the state institutions of Ukraine and does not reflect the official policy of the Ukrainian state.
“The information filling of the ‘Myrotvorets’ site is carried out from generally known and generally available open sources, which are used exclusively for scientific research, creative and journalistic purposes. The main sources of information used by the ‘Myrotvorets’ Center are materials published on social networks, web publications, private web pages, as well as those that are broadcasted on television and radio channels,” the embassy states.
What is a “Myrotvorets”
The site “Myrotvorets” was created in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea by the Kremlin as part of the activity of the “non-governmental Center for the study of signs of crimes against the national security of Ukraine, peace, humanity and international law”. It is believed that the initiative came from Anton Gerashchenko, at the time an unhappy adviser to the Interior Minister of Ukraine and later Deputy Minister of the Interior. On it, among the published materials, there are also the personal data of many foreigners, including journalists, who, according to the site’s authors, are or have collaborated with pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals and murderers.
When asked why there were journalists in 2016, the executive director of the center, Roman Zaitsev, answered that the Constitution of Ukraine has an article that talks about the protection of the information security of the country, under which the dissemination of information and statements of the separatists supported by Russia in the Donbas and in the occupied Crimea also falls.
In addition, those who are in Donbas and Crimea do it with accreditation and signing documents with the authorities in the so-called. Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics – organizations that Ukraine has declared terrorist. “Society should know the names of those who cooperate with terrorists,” said Zaitsev. He gave the example, if during the Second World War, in 1942, a journalist from the Soviet army newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda” went to Berlin and interviewed Adolf Hitler, and how that would be perceived.
The center argues that the personal data – especially of journalists – that they publish is publicly available anyway.
The peak of pressure on Kyiv to stop the site was in 2016, an investigation was launched and it was blocked for several days. But even then it was commented that among its supporters was the Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov, and it was written that what was happening showed that the Ukrainian special services had not moved far from the manner of working in the former USSR or in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Roman Zaitsev said seven years ago that 20% of journalists in Ukraine are hard-working, erudite and decent, but their voice is not heard, while he calls the remaining 80% “journalists” and copypasters, who, republishing the same thing along with its typos, may at times participate, even unconsciously, in an information special operation.
“The presence of a press card does not mean at all that they belong to this trade. Their objectivity is zero, they have no concept of elementary standards in the profession. As a sect, they have occupied the media space and created a caste of the untouchables,” he also said.
Deutsche Welle, whose reporters were also on the list, called what was happening a “dirty campaign against people who are just doing their jobs”.
“Journalists must be where the fire is. And everywhere in the world they must present accreditation, even if it is issued by dubious groups. Journalists must follow these rules of the game, at least for security reasons. But this in no way makes them ‘collaborators’. If these people had not gone to Donbas, the world would know much less about what is happening there and about the active role of Russia in this war. Therefore, it is even more cynical that the site ‘Myrotvorets’ compares these journalists almost to terrorists,” wrote Bernd Johann in his commentary on German public media.
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