Video Cartoon on Bulgarian Migrant Hunters, PM Removed from TV's Website
A protest is due on Friday noon in Bulgaria's capital Sofia over the decision of NOVA, one of the largest private TV stations, to remove a video cartoon from its website and terminate a contract with the author.
Chavdar Nikolov's video cartoon targeted the case with vigilante "migrant hunters" in Bulgaria who published earlier this week a video showing the "citizen's arrest" of Afghans who had crossed into Bulgaria.
The video sparked outrage among human rights activists and prompted the government to discourage volunteering border patrols that it had earlier approved.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov then implored the media not to use the word "pig's tail", the literal translation from Bulgarian of a colloquial term for a plastic strap that was used by the migrant hunters to tie the hands of detained migrants behind their backs, in a way that involves a negative connotation because "they are Muslims and don't eat pork". The PM, however, had earlier supported the action of volunteer squads, saying any help to border police was welcome.
Nikolov's cartoon showed the founder of Bulgaria, Khan Asparukh, in 681, waving a flag with a horsetail (the symbol of Bulgarians at the time they arrived in Southeast Europe), and later one with a "pig's tail" held by Prime Minister Borisov and two migrant hunters.
Net Info announced on Wednesday morning it had terminated its contract with Nikolov as the content generated by him had not brought good enough results in terms of page views, with the number of visitors to his VBox7 channel being beyond the medium levels for the website.
However, Dnevnik.bg quotes Nikolov as saying he had been informed about the step after the content had been removed.
To date Borisov has openly shown his negative attitude to cartoons that depicting him in local newspapers, but has refused to comment on them.
On Thursday he denied having any involvement in NOVA and Net Info's decisions to take off the cartoons.
"In the times of Facebook and Internet, to take off information is suicide," Focus News Agency quotes him as saying.
He added that a number of cartoonists "have made a living" off his name and image for more than ten years and said he could not bear responsibility for self-censorship.
As of Thursday, Nikolov's cartoons are available neither on NOVA TV's website nor on VBox7, a video website owned by Net Info, a a company owned by Sweden-based MTG Group of which NOVA Broadcasting Group is also part.
Fellow cartoonist Christo Komarnitski, who publishes on a daily basis for Sega newspaper, wrote on Facebook he was asking NOVA not to show any of his works in its morning press digest.
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