WASHINGTON - During a visit to Bulgaria this week, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President & CEO Jamie Fly met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. Discussions focused on RFE/RL’s coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the proliferation of disinformation in the region related to the war, and the importance of media freedom and independence, including possible changes to the legal framework required to ensure transparent funding and ownership of Bulgarian media outlets.
Fly also met with other government officials as well as freedom of speech and anti-corruption and civil society activists about RFE/RL’s critical role in supporting Bulgarian democracy through RFE/RL’s unbiased reporting.
Fly spent time with journalists from RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service, known locally as Svobodna Evropa, who are providing Bulgarian audiences with accurate reporting about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and covering the plight of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Bulgaria. The Service helps counter disinformation about the war by sharing human stories about victims and producing explainers on the international implications of the war.
The Bulgarian Service is renowned for its investigative journalism and its journalists have received many accolades for their work exposing corruption in the country. In 2020, Svobodna Evropa journalist Polina Paunova was honored for her investigation into Bulgarian political figures who obtained apartments at dubiously low prices. The investigation led to the resignation of many senior government officials. In 2021, the Service published a series of investigations into the prosecutor general’s misappropriation of public funds and an exclusive on the promotion of police officers who had beaten protesters in Sofia. In December 2021, Bulgaria’s Anti-Corruption Fund recognized Boris Mitov’s “in-depth and consistent efforts to uncover the dependencies of judiciary, executive and legislative power,” Genka Shikerova for her reporting on unregulated clear-cutting of managed forests, and Damyana Veleva for her work in revealing that more than 400 villages in Bulgaria have not had regulated water supplies since the 1950s.
About RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service
RFE/RL first established its Bulgarian Service in 1950, closing it in 2004 when Bulgaria joined NATO. The service was relaunched in 2019 following a decline in media freedom and independence in the country. Operating out of a small bureau in Sofia, Svobodna Evropa is a digital-only service which provides Bulgarian-language multimedia content via its website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel. The Service also has a presence on Twitter and Viber.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. 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.