The Brief – Post mortem for Viktoria Marinova

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter

Viktoria Marinova’s gruesome rape and murder in Bulgaria has featured high in the international news in recent days.

The interest dropped when the ongoing investigation found out on Wednesday that most probably she was not killed because of her work, and that a person on the margins of society (of Roma ethnicity) perpetrated the crime, assuming that impunity still reigns in Bulgaria.

We are not sure what is worse. In Bulgaria, many of the young women who took to the streets to protest after Viktoria’s murder did not do so because she was a journalist. They did it because they said they felt threatened in public places.

Viktoria was raped and killed in a park area as she was doing her jogging. Many women, not only in Ruse, Viktoria’s hometown, but also in Sofia shouted their anger and said they do not accept such insecurity.

Women in Bulgaria feel like free game for all types of perverts and sexual predators. Unlike countries in Western Europe, sexual harassment is seen as the norm, not a crime, here.

Viktoria’s rapist and murderer has reportedly been found, but this was largely thanks to the huge international pressure, which made the Bulgarian law enforcement get up and do their work, for a change.

Serious crimes in Bulgaria usually go unpunished. There is such a long list of high-profile murders, and basically, none has been elucidated. People just make their own conclusions about who the sponsor of the crime may be. Law enforcement in Bulgaria is a joke and the Commission knows it, but Jean-Claude Juncker keeps his eyes wide shut.

This is why it’s even more shocking to see PM Boyko Borissov lashing out at those who hasted to compare Marinova to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia, two other journalists killed in less than a year.

Viktoria Marinova was not a high-profile journalist, she worked in a small TV station and had not engaged in dangerous investigative journalism. She cannot be compared to Daphne.

But her murder reminded the world of the dismal situation with press freedom in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria, there is even no need to kill a journalist: it’s enough for a mafia person to ask the publisher to fire them. The government is doing the same, and if an entire media is dodgy, they make sure it goes bankrupt or is sold to a government-friendly monopoly.

Borissov is very happy to turn against the EU politicians who took a stand, at least on Twitter, that Bulgaria must fully investigate and solve the murder. His message is that if they assumed she was killed because of her work, they owe him big fat apologies.

But the truth is, they don’t. Viktoria has raised more issues with her death than she did in her short journalistic career. We would like to tell her family: Viktoria did not die in vain.

The Roundup

By Sam Morgan

It’s Magyar madness today, Viktor Orbán has been cosying up to Greece’s far-right and the mooted closure of the Central European University may prove to be a rallying point for people opposed to the “Orbánisation” of Hungary.

Frans Timmermans confirmed the worst-kept secret in Brussels, that he wants to be the next Commission president. But has he made too many enemies along the way? Hungary included.

In what has been a big week for climate policy, MEPs urged the EU to up its Paris Agreement pledge from 40% emissions cuts in 2030 to 55%. But similar ambition was notable in its absence from member state talks.

One way of fighting global warming is to take care and increase the size of our forests but a new French study warns that Europe’s woodlands are at capacity and should be managed better. The Commission, for its part, unveiled a new bioeconomy strategy saying it could reduce the EU’s dependence on fossil resources.

The European Court of Justice made a clear point when it named its new First Advocate General today: Polish judge Maciej Szpunar.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani made an ill-advised tweet earlier, insisting that the “murderer” of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova was not motivated by her profession. Perhaps he should refrain from commenting on ongoing court cases in future….

Tajani should, however, keep posing for amusing photos because we’ve picked a winner of our caption competition from yesterday! Kaj Leers gets the nod for the below effort. Your prize? Basking in the knowledge that you were picked over James Crisp.

Disclaimer: this is not the opinion of EURACTIV and should only be interpreted as satire.

Look out for…

Justice and Home Affairs Council (MFF, border and coast guard agency).

Make sure to check out our exclusive video interview with Alexander Stubb, the EPP’s second contender for the Commission top job next year.

Views are the author’s

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