In praise of Bulgarian journalists


Last month it was revealed, that the daughter and the wife of the responsible Bulgarian minister at the time were amongst the top-recipients of EU farmsubsidies. Subsidies that were administrated by the very same minister. €700.000 to the daughter and €1,5 million to the company of the wife, according to Bulgarian newspapers Trud and 24 Casa.  The public prosecutor is looking into the case, and also DG Agri is said to have taken a closer look. According to Bulgarian media, all links below.

“In Bulgaria, the news did not surprise anyone. This tradition of “absorption” of EU funds is long,” was the observation in an article in the Bulgarian weekly Capital shortly afterwards.

After the revelation in the daily newspapers Trud and 24 Hours, the news about the prosecutors investigation, the weekly Capital goes in-depth with the system of “absorbing” EU money and analyses the legislation to prevent conflict of interest.

But Bulgarian journalists are up against strong forces with such questions. Just read this little quote with the debated ex-minister (from Capital/24 Hours):

“Journalist: Is it ethical that the company of your wife and daughter make projects related to agriculture, while you’re in this position?
Dimiter Peytchev: And is it ethical for you to receive a salary?
Journalist: Yes, for work I have done, but not for one of my relatives.
Dimitar Peytchev: Well I do my job. There are European criteria which all must comply with. ”

The article in Capital then points at all the criteria that are still problematic and should be addressed.
That’s exactly the role, journalism should play: Public money? Scrutinize the use of it. Publish your findings. Let the relevant bodies take the next steps. And keep an eye on further developments.

But when journalists salaries are comparably low, and when even scandalous stories with a maximum of alleged conflict of interest do not surprise any of your readers it is a tough job to be a journalist.
This is why I dedicate this particular blog post to the Bulgarian colleagues, who keep going and keep tracking wrongdoings and keep working for the journalistic ideals.

Chapeau !
(As they say in Belgium).

For the farmsubsidy stories, Bulgarian colleagues participated in the European network of colleagues scrutinizing the data, that now are publicly available. Read about the working meeting of Farmsubsidye.org a few days after the data were published on April 30th 2010.

May 5th, Trud, Bulgaria, 1,5 million EU farmsubsidies to daughter of a former Deputy Minister

May 5th, 24 Casa, Bulgaria, Daughter of former deputy minister gets EU farmsubsidy

May 10th, 24 hours, Bulgaria, More farmsubsidies – 1.6 million to the wife of the deputy minister

May 10th, Trud, Bulgaria, And the wife of deputy minister gets 1,6 million farmsubsidies

May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Prosecutors investigating Peythevs daughter

May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Investigate the daughter of former deputy minister

May 21st, Capital Weekly, Bulgaria, Problems in agricultural programs and regulations – and morality

Numerous Bulgarian media quoted the story:

May 5th, Vesti: Daughter of former Deputy Prime Minister took 0.7 million grant

May 5th, BNews: Conflict of interests: Daughter Dimitar Peytchev receives 700,000 euros of subsidies

May 5th, Bulgaria News: Daughter of a minister of the ruling coalition with 700 000 EURO is the champion on the benefitting of European farmsubsidies

May 13th, Standart News: Prosecution pre-trial proceedings initiated against Christina Peycheva for submitting false documents.

May 13th, Dnes: Pre-trial proceedings instituted against the youngest daughter of former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Dimitar Peytchev.

May 13h, Novinar: Youngest daughter of Dimitar Peytchev investigated

May 13th, Dnevnik: Youngest daughter of former Deputy Minister Dimitar Peytchev to be investigate