Remembering Viktoria Marinova
Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova was brutally raped and murdered on October 6, 2018. She was known for her anti-corruption stories, and was only 30 when she was killed.
Viktoria Marinova’s work was marked by stories that not many would take on. Her current affairs talk show, called the Detector, lifted the veil from substantial corruption.
The world is becoming increasingly dangerous for journalists, and the notion that the global north is safer is deeply flawed.
An independent journalist who moved to Bulgaria recently, Molly O’Toole says that many of her Bulgarian colleagues have warned her about the dangers of reporting on organized crime and corruption in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria.
“There are some pretty significant ties between the government and organized crime. Clearly, all of that came into play in Marinova’s work,” she says.
In the World Press Freedom Index compiled by RSF, Bulgaria ranks the lowest of any EU country, holding the 11th position out of 190 nations.
“The general consensus among journalists who have worked in this region is that it’s unlikely that her death wouldn’t be tied to her work in some way,” says Molly.
“Obviously we want to wait until there are firm reports, but the narrative that seems to be emerging so far is that it was just an unfortunate incident of violence from an unstable individual and that it wasn’t connected to her work. Either way, it certainly highlights the dangers for women journalists.”
Just days before her death, Marinova hosted a show that dug deep into fraud within EU funds. The episode tried in businessmen and politicians.
“Press freedom is being threatened in Europe right now. It is under intense scrutiny,” says Megan Clement, an independent journalist based in Paris. Megan is working on a project on gender equality for European women journalists. She believes violence against women journalists in Europe is starting to become a troubling trend.
Viktoria Marinova is the third journalist and the second woman to be murdered in an EU country over the past year. Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in October 2017 by a bomb explosion under her car and this February, investigative reporter Ján Kuciak was murdered in Slovakia. Pen America, The Committee to Protect Journalists, The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) and many other journalistic organizations have issued statements that condemn Marinova’s death and have asked authorities to conduct a rigorous, through investigation.
“Being a woman, running on her own, whether it was connected to her work or not, is yet another tragic example of the dangers women journalists face, whether its due to the content of their reporting or just by virtue of their gender,” explains Molly.
It is imperative that the authorities concerned act with knowledge of the landscape that women journalists have to navigate.
Written by Jennifer Chowdhary.