Viktoria Marinova murder: Bulgarian journalists warned of further 'hits' after reporter is raped and killed in Ruse Park
The body of Viktoria Marinova, a reporter for the Bulgarian investigative programme “Detector”, was found dead on Saturday. She is believed to be raped and murdered in what one investigative website has called an “execution”.
Ms Marinova, 30, was discovered in a park by the River Danube in the northern town of Ruse.
She had been reporting on alleged corruption by officials involving EU funds and suffered blows to the head and suffocation.
Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothes were also missing, said Ruse prosecutor Georgy Georgiev.
Asen Yordanov, of the investigative site Bivol.bg, said he could not directly link the murder to Ms Marinova’s work. But he said his own team faces danger of assault themselves as the site has received “operational information that hits against our journalists working on this story are being discussed and prepared.”
He said: “Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning.”
Ms Marinova had presented the first episode of the refreshed current affairs programme “Detector” for the TVN network in Ruse on September 30, where she interviewed Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project on their investigations into fraud around EU funds.
In her final broadcast on the air, she had criticised the environment journalists find themselves when reporting on matters of public interest.
“The number of forbidden topics is growing all the time,” she said. “Investigative journalists are being systematically removed.
“Our team is committed to providing a platform for journalistic research exclusively on topics relevant to the public interest. This is the meaning of “detector”. The TV program that detects lies.”
TVN has posted heartfelt tributes on its website, showing reporters’ “enormous pain and insurmountable grief” to the loss of the reporter.
But the station has been criticised for being “too scared” to report the full circumstances while Bulgarians learn about the brutal killing in the foreign press.
Slavena Dimitrova posted on the TVN website: “Foreign media have reported the murder of the young journalist in more detail than the native.
“I understand the sorrow of her colleagues from TVN, but I do not understand why, when I visited their site, I saw only her “obituary”.
“All this silence is a sign of fear.”
There has been a huge show of outrage by members of the press across the world, as the death strangely coincides with the anniversary of journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination in 2006.
Police reportedly said there was no evidence to suggest Ms Marinova’s murder was related to her work and there was no information about her being threatened.
But Sven Giegold, a German member of the Greens in the European Parliament, said all of Europe should worry about the killing, as Ms Marinova is the third journalist to be slain this year.
“First Malta, then Slovakia, now Bulgaria. It is unacceptable that in Europe journalists are getting killed again,” Giegold said, going on to call for the European Parliament to quickly send a delegation to Bulgaria to help investigate the crime.
The chairman of the EU Commission has called for Bulgarian authorities to bring whoever was responsible to justice.
He tweeted this morning: “Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption. Those responsible should be brought to justice immediately by the Bulgarian authorities.
The Standard asked the Bulgarian Prime Minister’s office for comment but they are yet to respond.
In a press conference in September, President Rumen Radev told reporters on his commitment to the rule of law: “We have to show, at the highest level, lawfulness and compliance with all norms if we want to have rule of law in the country.”