Bulgarian Public TV Host 'Shouldn't Deride State Too Much' – Culture Min
Bulgarian Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov has advised the host of a culture and arts program on the public TV against “deriding the state all the time.”
The Association of European Journalists has issued a statement calling on Minister Rashidov to step down.
It has criticized Rashidov for the "instructions" he gives to a journalists, tying his work to the source of his salary and has described it as an instance of "direct political pressure" and "intimidation".
The Bulgarian National Television is a public institution under the Radio and Television Act of 1996, but is virtually run by the state as it does not count on taxpayer fees, but on direct allocations from the state budget.
In a statement submitted to the Bulgarian National Television in line with the right of reply, he has announced he is taking to court “a complaisantly invited slanderer” who “disgracefully lied, tainting my name and offending deeply my family and my children”.
A guest is heard saying that Rashidov's son and grandchildren have assets abroad, including in Austria. In his statement, Rashidov has dismissed the claims, along with accusations of being involved in the embezzlement of millions in public money.
The minister has also accused the show host, Georgi Angelov, of constantly inviting "a group of people who turn this cultural program into a place for slander, without the other side being present."
Despite being one of the few TV programs about culture in national media and having earned Rashidov's respect, the latter says he has been observing lately "a subtle and interesting process of creating comfortable conditions and giving [airtime] to people who presumptively like spitting at the state, and this does not happen without the complaisance of the host, Mr Georgi Angelov."
"Instead of opponents being [invited] to the studio, Mr Angelov constantly cries out: "What does this state do for Bulgarian culture anyway!" To reply to this question is very easy - for example, we raise the children of some hosts."
Fending off claims of state "abdication" from culture, Rashidov cites numbers to argue the funding allocated to theaters and cinema production, but also museums, galleries and libraries are on the rise "during a tough crisis."
He accuses the guests in question of having been "raised with the golden spoons of socialism" and "the offsprings of the communist nomenklatura" who turned into democrats.“
"On hygienic grounds, I don't want to meet such people - it is only in court I can see them," he adds.
"As for the host, Mr Angelov, I advise him against deriding the state all the time, on whose budget his salary is as well."
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