Bulgarian media have come under renewed criticism from socialist politicians for their coverage of the anti-government protest that blocked cabinet ministers, MPs and Parliament staff for hours on July 23 and the early hours of July 24.
Even as the protesters prevented the bus ferrying some of the MPs and – according to the reports, at least one minister – socialist MP Anton Kutev, who said he was on the bus, told Bulgarian National Television (BNT) that it should “cover protests objectively”.
This meant not reporting that the number of protesters was increasing, which he said was not true – even as live coverage showed people joining the crowd around the enclosures outside Parliament.
Kutev showed a paving brick that, he said, had been thrown at police. He said that he had not been hit by the projectile.
In a late-night phone interview with BNT, after returning from an official visit to Serbia, Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov rebuked the interviewer for what Mikov alleged was bias in asking a question whether the Parliament blockade was a spontaneous angry reaction to the Budget revision proposal or the result of carefully laid out plans.
Mikov has criticised the media coverage before, when in a special address to the National Assembly on June 26, he issued an unsubtle directive to BNT and others to change their coverage of the protests, alleging that they were stoking tensions.
In his late-night interview and again on the morning of July 24, during a brief news conference by the socialist leadership, Mikov referenced his earlier words, saying that his “expectations for the escalation of the situation, which I voiced on June 26, and my appeal to the President, the state institutions and political parties were clearly not heard.”
A reporter for private station bTV, Dimitar Anestev, had his Parliament accreditation withdrawn for reporting from inside the National Assembly and breaching the media blackout during the second attempt to break the blockade outside Parliament, news website Mediapool.bg said.
(Lights inside Parliament were muted or outright switched off, presumably to avoid angering the protesters outside. Photo: Alex Bivol)