TV journalist murdered in EU Member State Bulgaria

On Saturday, Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova was murdered in the Nothern town of Ruse. Her last aired report was about an EU funds fraud investigation in Bulgaria. International attention obviously intensifies Bulgaria's focus on the investigation. 

Viktoria Marinova Murdered Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova in her last report (photo: screenshot Youtube)

The body of 30 year old TV producer and presenter Viktoria Marinova was found on Saturday close to the river Danube, reports Balkan Insight. Police says she was raped, beaten and strangled.

Even though it was still unclear if the murder was related to Marinova’s professional work, "all versions" were on the table, Balkan Insight quotes from a press conference with the head of the Ruse prosecution office, Georgi Georgiev, and the vice-director of the local police, Ilian Enchev, held on Sunday.

However, Marinova's final broadcast was about the so-called #GPGate investigation on EU funds fraud by Dimitar Stoyanov from and Attila Biro from Rise Romania. Both journalists were detained in Mid-September when they tried to prevent the destruction of proof. In late September, Marinova's outlet TVN also did the only on air in-depth reporting on #GPGate in Bulgaria. Several months ago, Marinova started hosting the investigative program called Detector.

"It seems as if the reports about the case in the European media have pushed the state to make a serious investigation - the Interior Minister and the State Prosecutor are now in Ruse, the Prime minister has stated his full support, so I expect an update quite soon," says ECPMF Founding Member Vesselin Dimitrov in Bulgaria.

Mainstream Bulgarian media obviously tries to play down the murder, saying that it is not related to Marinova's work at all. Bivol's editor-in-chief Atanas Tchobanov calls it "shameless and arrogant". On social media Bivol demanded that the Bulgarian authorities protect Marinova's journalist colleagues.

The ECPMF urges the Bulgarian government in its own interest as an EU Member State to push a swift and thorough investigation of the murder.

Just two weeks ago, the ECPMF and its five partners urged the Prime Minister of Bulgaria in an open to come to terms with his country's stance on press and media freedom and to protect journalists.