May total transparency in the media sector be qualified as encroachment on freedom of speech? Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? In principle you are right: to any normal person the provisions of the so-called Peevski Act are nothing but a guarantee that owing to them people will know who is talking to them from the pages of this or that newspaper or website.

This was the idea of the Act’s movers - MP and publisher of Telegraph Media Delyan Peevski and his colleagues from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms Yordan Tsonev, Hamid Hamid and Velislava Krasteva.

However, throughout the week the Fake News Factory sustained by oligarchs Ivo Prokopiev, Ognyan Donev and Tsvetan Vassilev has been trying to present these legal texts as “censorship”. Why so? Anyone might guess – this Act brings to light dozens of big and small websites which now pretend to be independent but in fact the above oligarchs are pulling their strings.

Against this backdrop, it was quite expectable that namely bivol.bg, the racketeers’ site tightly coupled with the Kremlin propaganda machine and several other smaller satellite media of the behind-the-scenes clique raised their voices against the Act (See here). Quite expectedly, the private journalistic NGO of Prokopiev, Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria, showed symptoms of schizophrenia – after having upheld the texts of the Act they are now standing firmly against them (See here).

It was just as foretold that Frognews, the site of Ognyan Stefanov, the State Security agent Academician, is again “croaking” along with this choir. The internet page posing as the private press centre of the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev within the last week has presented itself as a real “shock worker” and managed to create a total of four fakes in 24 hours (See here).

To this end they employed a whole panoply of talking points: first they “warmed up” the fake about the non-existent ties between Peevski and the Dunarit munitions plant (See here), dusted off the last week’s common thread of the Fake News Factory, Bulgartabac, and – to cap it all – involved the MP in the low-quality lampoon about the debts amnesty for the Muftiyat.

Parliament votes Electoral Code second time

With an overwhelming majority, the National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reject President Rumen Radev's veto on amendments to the Electoral Code (See here). In the absence of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) from the session, the MPs approved the bill once again with 154 votes in favour and no votes against or abstentions.

The amendments to the Electoral Code envision higher threshold for the preferential voting element, which was the main reason why the president vetoed them and returned the Code for another round of discussions in parliament. However, the veto turned out to be larger in scope, concerning not only the preferential voting element but also the use of electronic voting machines, challenging electoral commissions' decisions, and suability. The larger scope ultimately became the reason why the majority of MPs rejected the veto even though both GERB and a portion of the United Patriots want the current threshold for validity of preferential voting to remain as it still currently stands - 5% for the European Parliament election and 7% for local and general elections.

Borissov and Medvedev discussed economy, energy, welfare and tourism

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov welcomed his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev (See here), who was in Bulgaria on a two-day official visit on 4-5 March. The focus in their talks was put on bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, energy, welfare and tourism.

While Borissov said that Bulgaria should not give up plans to develop further its gas transmission system, Medvedev was adamant that the European extension of the TurkStream pipeline will be built only if there are guarantees by the European Commission that there will be no obstacles in the future.

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Fake News Digest: Prokopiev hides behind fake news about Peevski

Indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev tried to conceal the EVN case, which the court started hearing on Thursday, with a campaign of fake news. The shady businessman from Razgrad is being tried for the sale of the state’s remaining stake in the electricity distribution company alongside two former ministers – Simeon Djankov and Traycho Traykov.