Grief after murder of Bulgarian journalist

In the case of the raped and murdered Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, a suspect has apparently been detained in Germany. According to Bulgaria's chief prosecutor investigations have not revealed any connection between the crime and Marinova's work so far. Europe's commentators refuse to let the case drop.

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Deutsche Welle (BG) /

Case being blown out of proportion abroad

Viktoria Marinova was not an investigative journalist, the Bulgarian service of German broadcaster Deutsch Welle clarifies:

“Marinova moderated a show in which one of her colleagues conducted an interview with investigative journalists. ... Before that she moderated a lifestyle show. That's not to say that she wasn't a good, courageous and honest journalist, but simply that she wasn't an investigative journalist. ... Yet amazingly this fact seems to be irrelevant after her death. ... Western media, which apparently know more about press freedom in Bulgaria than we ourselves do, immediately linked the Marinova case to the embarrassing fact that Bulgaria ranks 111th on the Press Freedom Index. ... Other countries are apparently under the impression that in Bulgaria it's 'normal' for people who speak out against the government to be attacked physically.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Politicians fuelling hatred for the press

For Dagens Nyheter the recent murders of journalists in Europe highlight the fact that people don't want to accept that press freedom is under threat:

“The political will to defend freedom of the press is rapidly dwindling right now - and in many parts of the world politicians believe that they can score points by fuelling hatred of journalists. ... Yet the need for serious news journalism has increased dramatically in a world that is living through a constant information war. ... Neither politics nor journalism are an end in themselves - but are there to serve the interests of the citizens. That's why it's no wonder that this is an issue for a crisis meeting at the international level.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

EU Parliament must deal with these cases

The EU's reaction to the murders of journalists has been far too hesitant, Jutarnji list complains:

“One of the areas in which the EU member states have shown negative development is press freedom. ... It was assumed that the criterion of press freedom was fulfilled as soon as the states entered the EU. And now Brussels may no longer question the quality of press freedom, regardless of the situation on the ground. ... The EU Parliament is taking an active interest in the murder of journalists in the EU, but to date there has been no initiative by the European Commission for forming a working group that would investigate these cases - which would be particularly important if the murders are connected to organised crime and the use of EU funding.”

Kapital (BG) /

Perpetrators have nothing to fear

If the brutal murder of the Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova was related to her research, Kapital sees no hope of the true perpetrators ever being apprehended:

“Do you really believe that the investigators and in particular the director of public prosecutions will allow this murder to be properly investigated and a court to convict the perpetrators and the string-pullers and put them behind bars if it turns out that the murder was commissioned by those against whom Marinova's research was directed? ... The Bulgarian prosecutors and police are crippled. They are not in a position to carry out their duties professionally and conscientiously. ... This state is completely incapable of guaranteeing the security of its citizens and ensuring justice when crimes are committed.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Europe must investigate Marinova's death

Bulgaria won't clear up the crime on its own, the Tages-Anzeiger also believes, and calls on the EU to take action:

“Pressure and threats against journalists, threats of sexual violence, setting inconvenient journalists' cars on fire or beating them up - all these things are not uncommon occurrences in Bulgaria. Anyone who publicly confronts high-ranking politicians with awkward questions is threatened with losing their job on camera. Marinova's death must not deter other journalists from conducting research. The investigation of this crime is a task for Europe; scepticism regarding the Bulgarian authorities is justified. If Europe wants to be a community of shared values it must not tolerate any lawless spaces.” (ES) /

Censorship which the West refuses to acknowledge

The promises of press freedom after the collapse of the Iron Curtain have not been fulfilled, Pascual Serrano comments in

“Freedom of the press is experiencing a worrying decline in Eastern Europe. ... Its inhabitants, who were promised freedom of expression following the collapse of the Soviet Union, have discovered that they still don't have access to a free press. The only difference - as [Polish journalist] Ryszard Kapuściński pointed out - is that these countries have gone from crude police censorship under communism to a more refined form of censorship in which the market, publicity and opportunist politicians have taken over. However, they are no longer criticised by the West since they are part of the 'free world'.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Pure coincidence?

This is the third time a European investigative journalist has been killed in the last year, Corriere della Sera points out:

Daphne Caruana Galicia was murdered when a car bomb exploded. Ján Kuciak was shot in Slovakia. Viktoria Marinova was brutally beaten, raped and strangled on Saturday night. Like both of her murdered colleagues, Viktoria was used to asking questions about corruption. And like Dahne and Ján, by pure chance she was also investigating how EU funding was being used. ... But according to the police the murder was the act of a sex offender. ... The coincidental death of a reporter? In Bulgaria, which within just a few years has dropped from 35th to 111th place in Reporters Without Borders' ranking of press freedom ...”

Standart (BG) /

Journalists deserve special protection

In view of the growing violence and aggression against journalists, media expert Georgi Losanov calls in Standart for more measures to protect this professional group:

“Journalists are entitled to special protection because with their work they make a vital contribution to the citizens' right to information - just as doctors do for the right to life and police for the right to security. ... A society that allows its journalists to be threatened, beaten or even murdered is not in a position to protect the very people who are defending its basic rights.”