The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' group, today condemned the authorities in Bulgaria over an escalation of the crisis at Bulgarian National Radio on Monday when police moved into the station and barred journalists from their studios. Seven leaders of a protest by station staff have since been dismissed.
"The management of Bulgarian National Radio have violated the right of journalists' to protest over what they see as clear political interference with the country's public service broadcasting system," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
Journalists and staff held protests at the station over the appointment of a new Executive Director, Mr Borislavov, who they claim is unqualified for the job, lacks support from the professional community and is a political stooge.
On Monday, after forty-two days of protests, the newly appointed management board called in the police to bar the protesters from their studios. On Tuesday, Alexander Brazitsov, the acting Managing Director, announced that protest leaders, Lili Marinkova and Peter Volgin, were being sacked. This was followed on Wednesday by five further sackings, including Anton Mitov, the chair of the ethics committee of the Union of Journalists of Bulgaria, PODKREPA.
The Union of Bulgarian Journalists and the Union of Journalists of Bulgaria - PODKREPA, the two IFJ affiliates in Bulgaria, are holding a press conference today in support of the protesters. They will be calling for the National Council for Radio and Television to intervene immediately to prevent the sackings and to hear the protesters demands.
The IFJ is supporting its affiliates and BNR staff over the sackings and their protests.
"This is a time to cool the situation," said the IFJ. "We need dialogue between the management and the protesters over what are legitimate concerns. Further victimization of staff is no solution to the problems facing public broadcasting in Bulgaria."
Messages of support may be sent to the following:
BNR Staff: email@example.com
UJB - PODKREPA firstname.lastname@example.org