RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service: Svobodna Evropa
RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service, Svobodna Evropa, provides independent reporting in a media landscape weakened by monopolistic ownership and corruption.
- Relaunched (2019) in response to declining media independence. Originally opened in 1950, closed when Bulgaria joined NATO (2004).
- Operating from Sofia, Service is entirely digital: website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Viber.
- Known for its video investigative and explainer stories: The corruption scheme on the Bulgaria-Turkey border earned more than 850,000 views.
- Within weeks of launch, Svobodna Evropa broke news in an investigative series about luxury apartment sales to officials in Sofia.
- Service focuses on Russia's malign influence, bringing stories from the frontlines in Ukraine to Bulgarian audiences.
- Exposes disinformation with reports “Who repeats Kremlin's talking points in Bulgaria” and “How come the majority of the candidates in the elections speak like Putin.”
- Investigation into Russia’s Lukoil caused political scandal and video explainer earned 275,000 views.
- Told the story of how the former Bulgarian government used a gas pipeline to help Russia pressure Ukraine before the full-scale war.
- Recognized by Bulgaria’s Anti-Corruption Fund, honoring three of the Service’s reporters.
- Two Svaboda journalists received prestigious "Valya Krushkina - Journalism for the People" awards.
January – December 2022
- Website: 12 million visits; 17.3 million page views
- Facebook: 33 million video views; 13.8 million engaged users
- YouTube: 297,000 video views; 8,200 subscribers
- Instagram: 1.3 million video views; 20,900 followers
Updated: January 2021