Jour­nal­ists stran­gled, shot, blown up

The Week (US) - - 14 News -

A Bul­gar­ian TV jour­nal­ist was bru­tally raped, beaten, and stran­gled to death while out jog­ging last week, said Bul­garia’s in an ed­i­to­rial, and au­thor­i­ties are try­ing to pre­tend it had noth­ing to do with her re­port­ing. Vik­to­ria Mari­nova, 30, an an­chor of the news show De­tec­tor and the ex-wife of TV mag­nate Svilen Max­i­mov, was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the al­leged em­bez­zle­ment of Euro­pean Union funds by Bul­gar­ian firms at the time of her mur­der. But In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mladen Mari­nov in­sisted that her killing must be a ran­dom sex crime, not­ing that Mari­nova, a for­mer beauty queen, ran ev­ery day on the same route, and that the killer ap­par­ently lay in wait for her. A 21-year-old Bul­gar­ian man with a crim­i­nal record, Sev­erin Krasimirov, was ar­rested this week for the mur­der; po­lice said the crime was not linked to Mari­nova’s work. But the louder of­fi­cials make these claims, the more we will sus­pect that this coura­geous jour­nal­ist was killed “to muz­zle her in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Bul­garia is a dan­ger­ous place to be a re­porter, said Jennifer Rankin in The Guardian (U.K.). The press free­dom ad­vo­cate Re­porters With­out Bor­ders says both “cor­rup­tion and col­lu­sion be­tween me­dia, politi­cians, and oli­garchs” are wide­spread there, and that phys­i­cal at­tacks and death threats against jour­nal­ists by crime groups “are es­pe­cially com­mon.” If Mari­nova was killed be­cause of her work, she’s part of a grue­some trend, said Francesco Bat­tis­tini in Cor­riere della Sera (Italy). Malta’s most fa­mous in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist, Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia, was blown up last year in a tar­geted car bomb­ing. In Fe­bru­ary, Slo­vak re­porter Jan Ku­ciak was shot to death in his home, along with his fi­ancée, while work­ing on a story about the links be­tween the Cal­abrian mob, the ’Ndrangheta, and lo­cal busi­nesses. And now Mari­nova. Surely it is not “pure chance” that all three had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing the mis­use of EU funds?

It’s bad enough when sus­pected mob hit­men go around mur­der­ing jour­nal­ists, said Yahya Bostan in the Daily Sabah (Turkey). When a na­tional gov­ern­ment does it, we’re in a new realm of ter­ror. Ja­mal Khashoggi, one of Saudi Ara­bia’s most prom­i­nent jour­nal­ists, fled his coun­try last year dur­ing Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s crack­down on dis­sent. He con­tin­ued to crit­i­cize bru­tal­ity in his na­tive land for pub­li­ca­tions such as The Washington Post, and last week went to the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to file pa­per­work for his up­com­ing mar­riage to a Turk­ish woman. Khashoggi, 59, never came out. Turk­ish of­fi­cials say they have proof he was mur­dered in the con­sulate, and his body dis­mem­bered and re­moved. The Saudis in­sist Khashoggi left the build­ing on his own, yet they refuse to re­lease video footage from the ex­its. If Saudi Ara­bia re­ally had a jour­nal­ist mur­dered at a diplo­matic mis­sion in a for­eign coun­try, “it de­serves to be des­ig­nated a rogue state.” Be­ing a re­porter has sud­denly be­come a far more per­ilous pro­fes­sion.

A vigil for mur­dered Bul­gar­ian re­porter Vik­to­ria Mari­nova

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