'Scandalous Tape' Fuels Media War in Bulgaria
Animosity between the two major media groups in Bulgaria has intensified, resulting in a new wave of frontpage mudslinging publications.
A scandalous taped recording, implicating publisher of Trud and 24 Hours dailies and chairman of the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria Lyubomir Pavlov, in trading in influence, was published on Friday in Presa, a newspaper from the arch enemy group.
According to the transcript Lyubomir Pavlov speaks with an unidentified person, telling him how he will use his media group to get away from prosecution.
He says he will be charged soon, but does not worry about the outcome of the trial because no prosecutor would dare touch him.
The authenticity of the recording has not been verified.
Presa newspaper is published by Tosho Toshev, who is also editor-in chief of the newspaper. Tosho Toshev was former editor-in-chief of Trud daily, which is now the strongest weapon in the hands of his enemies - Lyubomir Pavlov and Ognyan Donev.
Meanwhile it emerged that at the beginning of next week the prosecutor's office is expected to raise charges of document frauds and money laundering against Lyubomir Pavlov and his partner Ognyan Donev.
Prosecutors were approached by their former partners Hristo Grozev and Austrian Karl Habsburg.
In April last year Bulgaria's competition watchdog gave the green light to the acquisition of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria by Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov even though they were accused of an attempted corporate mini-coup.
The ruling cemented the decision of Bulgaria's Business Registry Agency to register 83% of the wide-circulation dailies "Trud" (Labor) and 24 Chasa (24 Hours) as property of Ognyan Donev and Lyubomir Pavlov, former chairman of the Sofia-based Municipal Bank.
The ownership of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria, which include the two wide-circulation Trud and 24 Hours newspapers, changes hands just four months after Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd acquired a majority stake in the publisher, while the remainder was held by local businessmen Lyubomir Pavlov.
The conflict between the former partners flared up in March after Hristo Grozev, who represents the Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd, controlled by him, Austrian Karl Habsburg, and German Daniel Rutz, accused their Bulgarian partners of an attempted illegal corporate take-over of the newspapers.
Bulgaria's trade registry initially blocked the allegedly illegal transfer of a 83% stake in the holding at the insistence of Grozev, but later, following the intervention of the Justice Ministry, gave it the green light.
MORE about Bulgaria's media war READ HERE
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