Condemnation after assault of journalist at Bulgaria’s ruling party event

Bulgaria’s broadcast media regulator the Council for Electronic Media (CEM) said on August 6 that it was seriously concerned about the increasing number of attacks on journalists.

“Any physical and verbal aggression against journalists is unacceptable in a democratic society. Especially in an EU member state where respect for human dignity and rights, tolerance and understanding are core values,” CEM said.

The statement came a day after Radio Free Europe journalist Polina Paunova was assaulted by unidentified men at a special national conference of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, held in response to continuing large-scale protests demanding the resignation of the government and the Prosecutor-General.

Any encroachment on or obstruction of journalists’ work is a direct encroachment on freedom of speech and the achievements of democracy, CEM said.

“The CEM calls on citizens to respect the professional rights of journalists, as well as their freedom and personal dignity.”

It said that it believed that the relevant authorities would do their job quickly and professionally to identify the perpetrators.

“CEM once again calls on politicians and the public to be responsible in public speaking and behaviour towards journalists and the media,” the statement said.

In a letter to European People’s Party president Donald Tusk, Borissov and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev, the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria condemned the attack on Paunova.

“We believe that you are aware that violence towards journalists during an event, organised by Bulgaria’s ruling party, is unacceptable,” it said in comments addressed to Borissov.

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