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News 14 Mar 17

Bulgarian Activists, Journalists Named ‘Foreign Mercenaries’

A new book distributed for free at newsstands accuses a number of activists, analysts, journalists and students of working for US billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Anti-government protesters are alleged to be foreign mercenaries in the book. Photo: KGG1951/Wikimedia Commons

The 240-page book called ‘Robbers of Democracy’, which was distributed free with the Telegraph daily newspaper, part of the Balkan Media Company linked to controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski, has caused anger among those accused of being “foreign mercenaries”.

Some of them said that the book, which was distributed on Monday with what is the highest-circulation newspaper in Bulgaria, was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

“This is a terrible, disgusting campaign, which I cannot even call journalism,” one of them, Asen Yordanov, a journalist from the investigative website Bivol, told BIRN.

An entire chapter of the book is dedicated accusations against to Bivol, which is a member of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Other chapters cover the main figures from the mass anti-government protests on Bulgaria’s streets in 2013 and the non-governmental organizations and media and think-tanks funded by Sorso’s Open Society Foundation and America for Bulgaria – the main donors to Bulgarian civil society groups.

The newly-formed Yes Bulgaria party, led by former justice minister Hristo Ivanov, is portrayed as a project aimed at seizing power orchestrated by Soros.

Judges and members of legal NGOs advocating reforms of Bulgaria’s judiciary are also targeted with accusations that they are trying take over the legal system in order to serve oligarchic interests.

Among those accused is Romania’s former justice minister and founder of the anti-corruption prosecution, Monica Macovei.

The book describes her as “Romania’s on-call officer for the generous George Soros” and accuses of carrying out witch hunts on behalf of those on power.

Bulgaria’s prominent analyst, who is also a columnist for the New York Times, Ivan Krastev, is criticised for his family ties with members of the former communist elite and accused of participating in Soros’s “political engineering” at the international level.

Since the book, whose author is anonymous, was published on Monday, a number the people mentioned in it have said they will take Telegraph to court for defamation.

Asen Yordanov from Bivol is among them.

“This is а vicious mockery,” he said.

Toma Belev, an environmental activist and candidate for MP from the Yes Bulgaria party, who the book accuses of plundering EU money for environmental protection, told BIRN that he is not planning to go to court because he doubts the effectiveness of the judiciary.

“For me, these are just lies that exist in our society because the state refuses to protect the dignity of individual citizens,” Belev said.

BIRN could not reach the editorial team of Telegraph for a comment by the time of publication.

The newspaper has announced it is a publishing a second free book, this time dedicated to what it claimed happened behind the scenes during Bulgaria’s transition, on March 20.

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