IFJ Condemns Political Interference at Bulgarian Radio As Court Backs Journalists

19 Protesters Forced Out

Supreme Court Declares Against the Managing Director

Journalists Replaced by Workers Loyal to the Ruling Party

In a letter to the Bulgarian Prime Minister today the International Federation of Journalists fiercely condemned the management at the Bulgarian National Radio, which has continued to sack protesting journalists even though a Supreme Court has backed their protests against the Managing Director.

The IFJ also accused the management of replacing the BNR protesters with journalists loyal to the governing party.

Journalists at the radio station have been protesting since February 6 against the appointment of Ivan Borislavov as the new Managing Director. They celebrated a legal victory on April 5, when the Supreme Court said his appointment was illegal, a decision that calls into question all the internal management changes made by Borislavov.

However, the Managing Board of the BNR responded to this setback by dismissing six protesters on April 10, bringing to 19 the total number of sackings since the newsroom revolt began. They have brought in replacement journalists employed by the Demokratsia, a daily newspaper until recently owned by the governing party, the Union Democratic Forces. Parliamentary elections are set for June 17.

"The Supreme Court decision undermines the legitimacy of the new managing board, yet the board responds with further victimization of journalists. It is an outrageous abuse of authority. Management should reinstate the sacked journalists, " said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.

He said the IFJ deplored the political interference at Bulgarian Radio. "Two months before the elections, the state radio is being packed with journalists loyal to the governing party."

The IFJ says there is convincing evidence of direct political manipulation by the government, which is trying to stall resolution of the dispute until after the elections. "What is at stake are the professional rights and livelihoods of journalists and the long term credibility of the Bulgarian National Radio," said Aidan White.