(WASHINGTON - June 13, 2019) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has formally dedicated its new bureau in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, marking a return to a region where media freedom and independence is under threat.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on June 12, RFE/RL Vice President and Editor in Chief Nenad Pejic said, “When we left Bulgaria in 2004, the dominant opinion was that communism had collapsed, the West had won, freedom would inevitably come, and media freedom as well.” He then added, “As we see today, this is not the case in many countries. Media freedom is a process and it takes a long time... We hope we can help...”
In attendance was U.S. Ambassador Eric Rubin, who recalled the Service's earlier, "heroic" work in the country, and said, "The ability to provide a comprehensive package of news that people can trust is something that Bulgaria needs.”
Former RFE/RL President Thomas Kent, leading Bulgarian journalists, civil society representatives, and members of the diplomatic community also attended the event.
Since resuming operations in January, the Service has broken major stories, working with local media outlets and anti-corruption groups to expose a massive real estate scandal involving ruling party members. It has been harshly attacked by one far-right political party, which accused RFE/RL of “working to destroy the Bulgarian state.”
RFE/RL operated a Bulgarian Service from 1950 to 2004. In addition to reopening it this year, RFE/RL has also resumed its Romanian Service.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to over 34 million people in 26 languages and 22 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 2.6 billion times on Facebook and YouTube in FY2018. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
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