The new biweekly satirical newspaper “Pras-Press” was supposed to have its first issue released across Bulgaria on March 1. Prior to recent Parliament elections and deafening political agendas, the cartoons in the newspaper seem to have angered influential figures, who hindered its distribution.
Chavdar Nikolov, Chavdar Georgiev, and Christo Komarnitski call themselves the three “mischevious cartoonists” in the newspaper masthead. Together with journalist Ivan Bakalov, they have been opposing and ridiculing political leaders in Bulgaria in the recent years.
In 2016, Nikolov was fired from the Sofia-based broadcasting company NOVA TV, because of his cartoon with the prime minister Boyko Borissov, who is depicted as a leader of criminal groups that hunt down migrants along the border. Shortly after, the cartoons were removed from NOVA TV’s official website, and so was Nikolov from his position.
“We are in war with the monopoly, with stupidity, with hypocrisy, and sadly with most of the Bulgarian Institutions which keep quiet,” said Nikolov in an interview for bTV in March, 2017.
Despite the enormous interest by readers, a very small amount of the 10,000 printed copies were available on March 1, with major newsstands in Sofia near universities, bus stops and shopping malls receiving a maximum of five issues. Other cities in Bulgaria received even less or no copies at all.
— Simona Yordanova (@SasiYordanova) March 11, 2017
“When holding this newspaper leads to jealousy. There is expression, but no freedom.” #праспрес
“According to our calculations, less than 1000 copies are distributed in the country. The rest are left somewhere unseen,” wrote Bakalov in his article in e-vestnik.bg.
“The Company has two bosses – Vladimir Gerginski and Tsvetan Angelov. But with our first visit there, we were asked whether Peevski would accept the content that we have,” said Bakalov for e-vestnik.com
Peevski has been in the public eye as the owner of a large share of the Bulgarian Media, as well as with his position as chair of the State agency for National Security (DANS) in 2013, when he was removed because of public protests. He also owns more than 50 percent in companies like Technomarket Bulgaria, Balkan Media Group (owning five news agencies) and Lafka newsstands among others. In many of those Peevski and his mother, Irena Krusteva, have a split share, thus becoming the main shareholders, as with the case of the print agency “Rodina.”
After officials from the National Distribution Company gave no response to the situation, the journalists were decided to distribute the newspapers on their own, on “Slaveykov” square in Sofia, the permanent print market in Sofia.
“We will fight for the trust of our readers with honest and open position. We believe there is a huge niche for a newspaper like ours,” said Komarnitski for mediapool.com.
The “mischievous” journalists also alerted the Commission for Protection of Competition, the Bulgarian antitrust commission, and have reached out to other European institutions for what they call human rights violations.
For the second issue, that was released on March 15, “Pras-Press” had been working mainly with smaller distribution companies, and private owners of newsstands. This time, the authors stood in front of the Parliament to sell the symbolic 113 copies, which is the position of Bulgaria in the 2016 Press Freedom Ranking of Reporters without Borders.
While the “Pras-Press” journalists are seeking new ways to distribute their third issue and protect their rights of expression, Peevski has entered the political life again, this time as leader of the party “Movement for Rights and Freedoms” (DPS) in the recent elections on March 26.
You can buy the online version of the newspaper from here.
Nadezhda Yankulska is a second year student in the American University in Bulgaria, studying Journalism and Mass Communication. Yankulska likes covering current social and media issues in Bulgaria and across the globe.