The Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) party, which ran fourth in European Parliament elections to capture two out of 17 seats, said on June 5 that it would lodge court actions against two television stations that alleged that it was involved in breaking election law.
In separate reports on the morning of June 5, television station bTV said that it had established that BWC had claimed to have received donations from people who knew nothing about this, while Nova Televizia alleged that BWC was linked to unlawful payments to election observers.
In media reports before and after the May 25 European Parliament elections in Bulgaria, BWC – formed in recent months and competing in an election for the first time – was named as among the biggest in spending on media advertising campaigns and also in receiving donations.
In BTV’s report, a 47-year-old village woman identified in documentation lodged at the National Audit Office as having donated 1000 leva (about 500 euro, the legal limit for donations to political parties from individuals in a year) to BWC was contacted, and denied having made such a donation.
The woman, who is paid a disability pension, told bTV that she had agreed to be a supporting observer for BWC on election day and had been told she would be paid 50 leva. She said that she had provided her state personal identity number.
Another person named as a donor, an unemployed woman who according to the report had never been in a bank and did not know how to deposit money in an account, reportedly had accepted an invitation to an election concert in Sofia – because she had not seen the Bulgarian capital city for 15 years, according to BTV.
Also on the morning of June 5, Nova Televizia said that middlemen from a fast loan company allegedly had been used to pay 50 leva on behalf of BWC to the party’s election observers.
The employee of the fast loan company rejected as untrue having any connection to BWC.
BWC’s media office said that the party was initiating court actions against bTV (BWC’s leader, Nikolai Barekov, is a former employee of bTV) and Nova TV.
BWC said that the allegations in the bTV and Nova TV reports were “frame-ups”. The party would defend its rights in court and would prove that the stories “which have nothing to do with real investigative journalism” were mere manipulations.
“This attack comes from the common puppeteer of the two most popular morning programmes, which dare to invite and show any kind of people, thus violating all ethical norms and principles, without asking the other party involved to present a position.”
Nova’s journalists should say whether they had encouraged ordinary citizens to take money in order to be recorded and so film some sham sensation, BWC said.
The party challenged bTV reporters to say why they had not presented any investigation into vote-buying and breaches of election law by GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, for which there was ample evidence, BWC said.
BWC said that it would investigate the case of the two donors and make the results of this investigation public.
(Photo: Michal Zacharzewski, sxc.hu)