The assault on Bulgarian investigative journalist Hristo Geshov on 10 May 2018 marks the 61st physical assault on a media worker reported to Mapping Media Freedom since the start of 2018. Geshov, who was targeted outside his home in Cherven Bryag in northwestern Bulgaria, is the second investigative journalist attacked in the last week in a Balkan country.
“I attribute this attack entirely to my investigative reporting and to the warnings I sent to the authorities about the management of finances by the Cherven Bryag municipal government,” Geshov wrote in a Facebook post a few hours after being punched in the stomach and back by an unidentified assailant. “Despite the pain and many bruises, I am sure that I will not abandon my work, and the attack against me is a sign that I am right.”
Geshov writes for the regional investigative reporting website Za Istinata, works with the journalistic online platform “About the Truth” and hosts a programme called “On Target”, which is available on YouTube.
Geshov began being harassed after a series of articles about municipal government irregularities in Cherven Bryag in which he claimed that three municipal councillors were using European Union funds to renovate their homes.
Last week, on 8 May, 2018, Olivera Lakić, a journalist for the daily Vijesti, was shot in the leg in front of her apartment building in the centre of the capital, Podgorica, news website BalkanInsight.com reported.
Police said the attack happened around 9pm. Right after the attack Lakić was taken into hospital but her life is not in danger, daily Vijesti reported.
Vijesti’s chief editor, Mihailo Jovović, said Lakić told him a man approached her and shot her, while two other men ran away, The Guardian reported.
“I am speechless,” Jovović said in comments published on the Vijesti website. “For how much longer will this be happening? A lot of stories she wrote have not been investigated [by the authorities]. For how much longer must we live in fear of such cowards?”
This was not the first time that Lakić has been attacked.
According to the 2016 report compiled by the NGO Human Rights Action the attacks and intimidations against Lakić started in 2011 after she wrote a series of articles on alleged illegal production and smuggling of cigarettes that was originating from factories in Montenegro.
In March 2012 a man in a black tracksuit struck her, also in front of the building where she lives.
State prosecution initiated a procedure against Ivan Bušković who was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced to nine months in prison for the 2012 attack.
Related case: Vijesti journalist’s home targeted with an explosive device
On 1 April, 2018, an explosive device was thrown at the front of journalist Sead Sadiković’s Bijelo Polje home, news website CDM.me reported. Sadiković is a correspondent for the daily Vijesti.
“Though Sadiković’s case is not a physical assault the attempt to intimidate
The device’s detonation resulted in damage to a rental car belonging to a neighbour that was parked in front of the house, CDM.me reported.
There was minor damage to the outer wall of Sadiković’s house and several other nearby vehicles.
The explosion occurred at 11pm local time when only Sadiković’s wife was home.
On Monday, April 2, police identified two suspects, Ilhan and Hilmo Pepić from the town of Rožaje. Authorities said that Sadiković was the target of the attack, news website portalanalitika.me reported. The suspects were detained for 30 days.
The Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety reported the motive for the attack was that the journalist allegedly mocked a member of Pepić family, Husnija Pepić. Sadiković, who hosts “Without Borders” a show aired weekly on Vijesti’s web site, satirically interviewed Husnija Pepić.
Physical assaults reported to MMF in Balkan countries since 1 January 2018
10 May, 2018
Bulgaria: Investigative journalist assaulted
6 April, 2018
Albania: Group attacks general director of TV channel
20 February, 2018
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnia Times editor assaulted
Reports to MMF categorised as a physical assault on a media worker since 24 May 2014