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Bulgaria, Russian Media Environment

According to Bulgarian Media Council Director Betina Zhoteva, Bulgaria has been fighting a propaganda war for a long time, which has intensified with the start of the conflict in Ukraine.

A number of Bulgarian media are paid by Russia but cannot be sanctioned. This was said on air of "On Focus" on NOVA by the chairwoman of the CEM Betina Joteva. "A number of Bulgarian media(and journalists) receive payment from Russia in various forms. We are talking about newspapers and websites that receive, for example, advertising sponsorship or sponsorship for an event."

The cover from 23/07/2023 of the Broadcast of one of the National Bulgarian Televisions, owned by the Political leader ruled Bulgaria with claiming to be pro western party GERB

On the surface, it must seem that Russian propaganda in Bulgaria is a simple conspiracy theory about the West (NATO, EU, Soros, "tolerationists", "genderists", protesters) and the Big Savior - Russia. Simply, society is supposedly divided into Russophiles and Russophobes, it would have to seem that there is some confrontation, one side intelligent, which is on the side of the Russian Opposition or just a copy of the "supposedly opposition in Russia". Although the opposition in Russia and Bulgaria, in reality does not differ significantly from the traditional matryoshkas. On the other simple-minded and aggressive.

4th of July, 2023, Newscast of one of the most watched TV channels in Bulgaria. Two news- 1st Independence Day celebrations in the USA- hamburger eating, something that is a tradition in the USA on the holiday. The next news is about the Bulgarian children who won medals in mathematics and physics Olympiad. In this case, the associations that the two well-presented news items should evoke in viewers are beyond comment.

But the iceberg is huge and all-encompassing. The Bulgarian-Russian media environment is a breeding ground for journalists who become successful politicians as well as a network of business circles and dependencies. Just a few examples, from TV 7 that was first owned by the Bulgarian oligarch Tsvetan Vassilev hiding in Serbia, and after the state, through the bankrupt mega bank KTB, poured 300 million euros into the media group, it was acquired at no price by the Russian Orthodox Media stalwart Konstantin Malofeev.

TV 7, from journalists to politicians became- Nikolai Barekov (leader of the leading political force in Bulgaria TV 7, Euro deputy), Nikolai Malinov (pro-Russian party Rusophiles, leader of the international Russian movement Rusophiles) and Trendafil Velichkov (one of the leaders of one of the most pro-Russian parties in Bulgaria ABV, twice District Governor of Pazardzhik). The media group gave a springboard to the most ardent anti-Western critics today- Stoycho Kerev and Martin Karbovsky.

But on the Pazardzhik axis, much more interesting than the District Governor Trendafil Velichkov is the Director of the National Television at the moment, one of the most controversial figures of the Bulgarian transition - Emil Koshlukov. In TV 7 he hosts one of the most rating shows - The Koshlukov Factor:

Emil Koshlukov position on Macedonia, together with the leaders of the Bulgarian patriotic formations.

The First Major Russian Hybrid Attack in Bulgaria

How fake news and extensive media coverage influenced the election result, bringing the Bulgarian Socialist Party to power. Which a few years later put forward Rumen Radev's candidacy for president after a poll conducted by Nikolai Malinov on behalf of General Reshetnikov behind the Russian billionaire Malofeev.

On the day of reflection before the elections for MPs in 2013, an operation was launched, led by (then) acting city prosecutor Roman Vassilev (who a year later found himself with a huge deposit in CCB) and supervised personally by the prosecutor general. The aim was to uncover and detain persons who had printed and prepared for shipment "fake ballots" at the printing plant of the company "Multiprint" in Kostinbrod, which won the public contract for printing the ballots for the elections. Later it turned out that the prosecutor's office had been triggered by a signal filed a day earlier by the current ombudsman and then - "spearhead" of the Bulgarian Socialist Party(BSP) - Maya Manolova. A police operation with the overwhelming participation of the gendarmerie was launched during the night to suggest to the architects of the affair that they did not trust the police, who were probably complicit in the forgeries. By midday, the director of TV7, where hundreds of millions from the Tsvetan Vassilev - Delyan Peevski tandem sunk, Nikolai Barekov, was personally involved in the scenario with a live broadcast on TV7. The "journalist", who later became an MEP, successfully implemented the world's first such brutal exercise in mass public disinformation to manipulate election results.

On 11 September 2013, journalist Nikolai Barekov left his position as director at TV7 and began the formation of the Bulgaria Without Censorship political party. A party which in 2014 entered into a coalition with VMRO and brought two MEPs to the European Parliament, one of whom is the extreme nationalist Angel Dzhambazki. Bulgarian Pseudo-Nationalism- 35 years in Russia's shadow (

Borislav Sarafov was the investigator in charge of the most provocative pre-election police action in Bulgaria. Borislav Sarafov became Prosecutor General in 2023 after the intervention of President Rumen Radev. He is at the heart of the biggest political scandal in Bulgaria's recent history, in which the Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev was assassinated and sparked a series of high-profile murders and landmark political processes. The Power of Terror- Bulgaria, next to Ukraine (

The Biggest Russian Success in Bulgaria- Nikolay Malinov and the election of President Rumen Radev

The chairman of the Russophiles movement Nikolay Malinov is also a former member of the BSP(Bulgarian Socialist Party) and a participant in its leadership, a former deputy of the 40th and 42nd National Assemblies and a former publisher of the party official Duma. He is the Balkans representative of 11 Russian-language TV programmes such as "Первый kanal всемирная сеть", TV "Центр", "Охота и рыбалка", etc. He also entered the management of the CCB-financed TV 7 in 2015, while the battles over its ownership redistribution were going on after the collapse of the bank.

In June 2016, a forum of the ruling United Russia party was held in Moscow, attended by Malinov and the chairmen of the BSP and the ABV, Kornelia Ninova and Georgi Parvanov. Shortly afterwards, the Reshetnikov Institute commissions a poll for the upcoming presidential elections in Bulgaria, looking for the profile of the future BSP candidate.

Nikolay Malinov, on behalf of RISI, commissioned a study from G Consulting, whose executive director is Zhivko Georgiev. The survey was conducted from 1 to 15 July 2016. The results show high distrust of institutions and dissatisfaction, solid potential for a protest vote and "levels of anxiety unusual for the last decade". The data also show rising support for Russia and falling support for the US, EU and NATO. 12% declared themselves strong Russophiles and 25% moderates. Two-thirds of respondents said "Bulgaria should restore and maintain friendly relations with Russia to the maximum extent possible."

Finally, the profile of the "winning candidate from the opposition side (or BSP)" was described: Rather male, No older than 60, Successful career but not intellectual, Uncorrupt, Demonstrated courage, backbone, Defend greater sovereignty within the EU and NATO.

Two weeks after the survey was completed, on August 1, Gen. Rumen Radev resigned as commander of the Air Force. A few days later, BSP and ABV were already talking about him as a presidential candidate. Rumen Radev meets all the recommendations in the study commissioned by Reshetnikov.

After Rumen Radev won the elections, Leonid Reshetnikov announced that he had discussed his candidacy with BSP leader Kornelia Ninova. After a series of mutual accusations of lying, both finally agree that there was a meeting and that Rumen Radev's name was mentioned. According to Ninova, she had only informed Reshetnikov of her choice. According to Reshetnikov, the two discussed Radev's candidacy and a few other names. Leonid Reshetnikov gave a series of interviews in which he expressed hope that Bulgaria's new president would reorient the country away from NATO and the EU towards Russia.

As of 4 January 2017, Reshetnikov is no longer the director of the RISI; his place was taken by the director of foreign intelligence, Mikhail Fradkov. Reshetnikov became the initiator of the creation of the "Two-Headed Eagle" movement, funded by 45-year-old oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. The reserve general is also a member of the supervisory board and a regular contributor to the "Orthodox oligarch"-owned Tsargrad TV. Favorite topics include "the West's war against Russia," "the greatness of the Russian people," and "ungrateful nations," such as Bulgaria. In 2014, the Russian newspaper "KPR. Ukraine launched a criminal investigation against Malofeev for financing "illegal military groups" in the east of the country. For this reason, Malofeev was included on the EU sanctions list.

Who is Konstantin Malofeev?

Konstantin Malofeev was born in 1974 in a small town near Moscow, into the family of an astrophysicist and a programmer. In 1991, he began studying law in Moscow, and made friendships with some of his fellow students that went into business and have remained to this day. Among them was a friendship with Dmitry Skuratov, son of the former prosecutor general. And also with Alexander Provotorov, former director general of Rostelecom, now president of Tele2 Russia, the subsidiary of the Swedish holding company bought by VTB.

Malofeev's first job was at billionaire Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital, where he joined through the intermediary of a professor even before he graduated, rushing into the privatisation deals of the Yeltsin era. He told Vedomosti that he was involved in the sale of 25% of Svyazinvest and 10% of the oil company Sidanco to British Petroleum. Provotorov also mentions their joint participation in the purchase of shares in the Novolipetsk metallurgical plant.

Towards the end of the 1990s, Malofeev's desire to start his own business, including in Ukraine, is briefly mentioned, but this desire did not bear fruit and he alternated unsuccessful attempts to start his own business with increasingly high-level work in foreign businesses.

Things began to change after 2003, when Malofeev started working at MDM Bank.

Some of the companies that the bank then denied financing to made the following deal with him: he drew loans in his own name, provided them to the owner, and in return received shares in the enterprise, writes. This was the case with Nutryek, a producer of milk and baby food, then the third largest company in the niche, the newspaper said.

Along with that, during the key 2003 Malofeev and two of his colleagues, with whom they continued on in business, entered the management of a total of 11 energy companies, Vedomosti writes. In all of them, MDM Bank acquired minority stakes. In 2005, Malofeev had already amassed the fortune to allow him to set up his investment company Marshall Capital Partners. From here on he began to build the image for which he is known today.

In the financial part of his biography, the names of various companies line up, including two major ones: Svyazinvest and Rostelecom, which in 2009 were part of the grand reform of Russian telecom. Malofeev was involved in the management of both. As for Nutrik, it collapsed, mired in debt, amid several noisy lawsuits investigating credit fraud.

Malofeev and orthodoxy

From the very beginning of his independent business, Malofeev began financing ventures related to Orthodoxy. In his interviews, he claims to have discovered God while studying law in his fourth year. In 2006, he founded an Orthodox school, and a year later, the St. He also founded the St. Basil the Great Foundation, whose flagship online illustration is the smiling face of President Putin.

On the foundation's website can be found many of the familiar theses of the most conservative Christianity - against abortion, vaccines, gay marriage, children's rights, the Western world and liberalism in general. Malofeev combines these positions with monarchism and nationalism. He is often called an "orthodox oligarch." The Ukrainian press writes about his Ukrainian "church business" as a matter of course.

The EU holds him responsible for funding pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine through the St. He is also responsible for funding pro-Pashtun separatists. He denies it. But one fact remains indisputable: that Alexander Borodai, the "prime minister" of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, is his adviser from Marshall Capital Partners.

Also working there is Igor Strelkov, a former volunteer in the Bosnian war on the side of the Serbs, who describes himself as the man who "pulled the trigger" in Donbas, Radio Liberty reports.

Criminal proceedings have been opened against Malofeev in Ukraine. He is on a blacklist of individuals against whom the EU and the US have imposed sanctions.

On the wave of the annexation, Malofeev also founded the Orthodox-patriotic TV channel "Tsarigrad", from which he withdrew with the creation of the movement "Two-Headed Eagle". What the two initiatives have in common is a stated aspiration in both places to rehabilitate the "Orthodox monarchy", combined with unconditional support for President Putin.

In early 2019, Malofeev also found himself in the "Universal Russian People's Council," an international organization under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church. He is the deputy chairman - Patriarch Kirill himself.

The Company that bought TV 7

American television producer John Hanick, aka "Jack Hanick," has been arrested on charges of violating United States sanctions related to Crimea in connection with his years of work in Greece, Bulgaria and Russia for sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, 71-year-old Jack Hanik further gave false testimony to FBI agents to cover up his conduct in violation of sanctions, which included attempting to launch a pro-Russian television network in Greece to help Malofeev spread "destabilizing messages" to the country. Hanik worked for Malofeev on a project to establish and operate a Greek television network and on efforts to acquire a Bulgarian television network, the official statement said. "At Malofeev's direction, Hanik traveled to Greece and Bulgaria on multiple occasions in 2015 and 2016 to work on these initiatives, and reported directly to Malofeev on his work," prosecution documents say. In November 2015, Hanik wrote to Malofeev that the Greek TV network would be "an opportunity to detail Russia's point of view."

At the request of the United States, Hanik, who is a former CNBC and Fox News employee, was arrested on February 3, 2022 in London with a decision on his extradition pending. Konstantin Malofeev's name has been in the news in Bulgaria in connection with the spy scandal for which Nikolai Marinov, the chairman of Rusophiles, was arrested. According to Bulgarian prosecutors, former BSP MP Nikolai Malinov spied for organisations represented by Malofeev in order to reverse Bulgaria's orientation from pro-Western to pro-Russian. Malinov believed that this goal would be achievable if Russia acquired "lucrative sectors of Bulgaria's economy". Specifically, Malofeev is mentioned in connection with the acquisition of Tsvetan Vassilev's assets and in connection with the "control of Bulgarian media".

Dozens of accounts of group companies have been blocked at the request of the Federal Tax Service, according to reports. This includes the group's once largest company by asset value, Isma LLC. This firm specialises in property management and was involved in Malofeev's development projects. Back in 2016, Isma's asset structure included receivables of 1.9 billion roubles and financial investments of 2.8 billion roubles. But in January 2019, the company filed for bankruptcy, and in May, the Cyprus-based offshore Flotis Projects LTD demanded 1.97 billion roubles in accounts payable from it. The temporary administrator, Sergei Druzhinin, included Flotis on the creditor register as the only creditor - the case file substantiates this with an account statement from an offshore company.

Behind the offshore is a man whose full name and date of birth are exactly the same as Leonid Gavrilov, co-founder of the knightly Order of St John the Baptist of Jerusalem, better known as an ocean scientist, The Bell found out. Gavrilov's biography states that he was "the business angel of Tsargrad-TV from 2013-2017", and now the exploration firm Avangard, which was owned by Malofeev until the summer of 2019, is registered in his name. It is likely that Isma's assets, if any, will be sent to a Cypriot offshore as the sole creditor, and then the company will be removed from the register of legal entities "quietly, calmly and without fuss", suggests Alexander Pogorelov, partner of the law firm AB Thorn. As a result, all its liquid assets in the absence of other creditors will go to Cyprus Flotis. When asked about bankruptcy of the biggest subsidiary of his holding Malofeev himself answers bluntly: if it was something serious he would have known about it. His press service calls it a legal form of liquidation: the company has no debts for wages or to the budget. Gavrilov did not respond to The Bell, adding him to its blacklist.

Apart from Tsargrad Holding, more than a dozen charitable foundations and public organizations are associated with Malofeev. But judging by their reports, generous funding for them ended simultaneously with the imposition of sanctions. The figures show that Tsargrad, the media company, is Malofeyev's main brainchild and accounts for most of his losses.

Emblem of the Tsargrad-TV channel

How much Malofeev has spent on his media business is unknown: Tsargrad Media does not publish accounts, but the losses of the eponymous non-public joint-stock company in 2014-2018 totalled about 1 billion rubles. However, Tsargrad TV channel, founded in 2015, is already comparable in terms of audience size to Media Factory, which is associated with Evgeny Prigozhin. At the start, RBC magazine estimated the audience of all resources associated with Prigozhin at 5.5 million. The audience of Tsargrad-TV (according to Yandex.Radar) exceeds 7 million people, and the number of views of the website is close to 10 million per month (the press service of Tsargrad estimates its audience at 11 million unique visitors to the channel's website and 10 million monthly views of content in social networks).

Through an extensive network of dozens of resources, each promoting the other, the media audience associated with Prigozhin reached 33 million by 2017, 11 million of which came from RIA FAN, the group's main media outlet. Malofeev may have adopted this strategy. His Double Eagle movement, for example, counted the small online edition of Segodnya among its media resources in 2017. Its registration certificate belongs to the company Rin, which administers a dozen other resources (for example, the portals OkoloKremlin, and others), each of which promotes the other. Portals such as Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya, RIA Katyusha, Russia Forever, SM-News (with almost 7 million unique visitors per month) and others also promote each other. Most of them are registered as media outlets, which allows them to be indexed in Yandex.News. Malofeev's press office, however, claims that all these publications are not related to Tsargrad.

How Malofeev finances all his ventures is unclear. He replies evasively that he had made enough money in his time and now he is not interested in business any more. Part of Malofeev's capital is "in investment portfolios managed by professional market participants", according to the press service's response to The Bell's latest enquiry.

The Big Media(Political) Moguls conected with Socialist Party in Bulgaria

Bribery, corrupt practices, money laundering in Austria and buying Austrian or German politicians... just some of the headlines in the media, which at one point went completely silent...

The Big Russian Media Player in Bulgaria

There are many Russian oligarchs in Bulgaria playing different games, but one definitely stands out.

A majority stake in the largest telecoms company in Bulgaria has been bought by a group linked to an oligarch close to Putin, according to a probe by the investigative journalism outlet Bivol. Konstantin MalofeevThe Louvrier Investment Company (LIC33) announced on March 19 that it had bought shares in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, known as Vivacom AD, from previous owner Tsvetan Vassilev. LIC33’s chairman is Belgian-Russian businessman Pierre Louvrier, and its website lists a company address in Paris which Bivol, an OCCRP partner, discovered is a rented mailbox. According to Bivol, no company with the name LIC33 legally exists in France and it is unclear where the group is registered. Louvrier, a vocal supporter of the Russian annexation of Crimea, has close ties to Gerard Depardieu, a French actor who recently embraced his Russian roots and was granted citizenship in 2013. Louvrier maintains connections to several other Bulgaria-based companies, including military defense producer Dunarit and aircraft repair company Avionams. According to Bivol, Louvrier has partnered with Russian mogul Konstantin Malofeev in technology investments planned through his company CFG Capital and Malofeev’s firm Marshall Capital. Malofeev, whom Bivol calls the “busboy of Putin”, has been sanctioned by Canada and the European Union for allegedly financing separatist groups in Ukraine.

TV7 journalist, leader of the Youth Socialist Movement, leader of ABV - Trendaphil Velichkov at the head of Pazardzhik

The Echo from Russia State Propaganda

The first Video is from Bulgarian National Television NTV, from 26/01/2023. The second is from Russian National Channel Russia 1, 29/01/2023, banned in Europe. The similarities are striking, from news construction, to arrangement, to subliminal messages.

It is so bad in the EU that they started eating insects. Everything is disgusting. Like in the Bulgarian version, students and food professor at the end say that they will only eat traditional food.

The report from Bulgaria was followed by an avalanche of supportive social media posts that, as if on command, began to spread.

What is one of the main pillars of Russian propaganda? How bad would the EU be without Russia and most of all without Russian natural resources. What will follow in Europe after the energy cut-off according to Russian propaganda is Cold, Hunger and Misery. And the inadequate European Politicians will force the population not only to stay in the dark and cold, not only to bathe once a week, but also to start eating insects. Meanwhile, this is just big News in Russia and in Bulgaria, where for a week now there has been hysteria after the Nova TV report in which the reporter even ate a grasshopper. The Russian version of the news shows Hollywood celebrities eating insects, saving that the footage is from reality formats. It is interesting that the news has been circulating in the pro-Russian social space since 2017, but not with such success. It's usually part of the Kremlin trolls' conspiracy toolkit, along with vaccines, 5G tech, climate, etc. Няма как - ще ядем буболечки - 168 Часа (

Concerning Sexual Education and Sex Determination in Bulgaria there is parallel propaganda to that in Russia

Anti- system

The protests in France are an extensive topic in the central news in Bulgaria, every night. With reporters from France saturated with police violence against protesters. As well as all the anti-system protests that are a central topic on the news block in Russia.

You can read more how in 2023 the Bulgarian media environment is in mimicry with Russian Orthodox Traditionalism and complete rejection of Western Values:

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