Bulgarian Radio Director, Nationalist Leader Play Down Conflict
The conflict between the Bulgarian National Radio and nationalist party Ataka's leader Volen Siderov is over, said national radio general director Valeri Todorov Friday.
“Ataka won't be attacking the national radio,” said Todorov in a joint press-conference with Siderov, reported news agency BGNES.
Todorov said that Siderov's live statement on air Wednesday calling for a political purge of the radio could be subjected to criticism, but implied that Siderov's words did not reflect his actual beliefs and intentions. Siderov had said that the radio can become an objective media only if it is cleansed from cadres from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
The radio director defended the performance of journalist Diana Yankulova, saying she had given all her interviewees the equal opportunity to express their opinions.
Todorov moreover stated that there are no cases of 'politically-motivated hiring' in the national radio whatsoever.
On his part, Siderov offered apologies, but said he was wrongly understood. He emphasized that he and his party do not view the new law on radio and tv, which is currently under discussion by stakeholders, as an instrument to exert political pressure on media. Thursday Siderov had threatened to sue Yankulova over misleadingly comparing a prior case of police use of force against an Ataka activist with a recent case of alleged police brutality in the town of Kardzhali.
Earlier Friday Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov backed Siderov's scandalous behavior more resolutely than Siderov proved ready to.
When asked whether he would denounce Siderov's statements, Borisov, rather than doing that, said that based on what he is aware of, the journalist Siderov talked to Wednesday was politically hired in the National Radio based on influence of the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
The journalist in question, Diana Yankulova, worked as head of the PR department of the Ministry of Interior when BSP's Mihail Mikov was minister (2008-9), after which she returned to her prior position in the National Radio.
Friday PM Borisov called that a case of "political hiring" and "conflict of interests."
The Bulgarian Prime Minister also shared personal woes he has had: "I too have been the victim of similar activities on the part of other journalists and I know that one can react very emotionally, especially when one knows whose interests they are servicing."
Thursday journalists from the Bulgarian National Radio had come out with a declaration expressing outrage at Siderov's statements, calling them “a dark revelation” in support of “political censorship.” Friday the Union of Bulgarian Journalists came out with a similar declaration, calling Siderov's words “unacceptable” and saying: “This horrendous statement which returns us to a very dark period of history enters into a drastic contradiction with the declared intention that there is no political assignment for the future law on media”.
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