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REGIONS:

IPI concerned about safety of journalist Lidia Pavlova

(IPI/IFEX) - In a 29 January 2010 letter to authorities, SEEMO, an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), brought attention to the fact that Lidia Pavlova has been living under constant threat since she began reporting on the "Galevi" case.

H.E.Boyko Borissov
Prime Minister
Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria
1194 Sofia, 1 Dondukov Blvd
Fax. +359 2 980 20 56
E-mail: gis@government.bg

H.E. Tsvetan Tsvetanov
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
29, Shesti Septemvri Str.
Sofia 1000
Fax: +3592 988 54 40

Vienna, 29 January 2010

Your Excellencies,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is very concerned about the safety of the Bulgarian journalist Lidia Pavlova. We would herewith like to call your attention to this case.

Lidia Pavlova, a Bulgarian journalist who currently works for the daily newspaper Struma based in the Southern town of Blagoevgrad, has been living under constant threat since she began reporting the "Galevi" case.

On 16 May 2009, just hours after initial developments in the trial against the two persons involved in the "Galevi" case at the National Investigation Service, the rear windshield of Pavlova's car was completely smashed. Upon examination, the police found a bullet inside the car.

On 1 January 2010, Pavlova's son was attacked and severely beaten by a man who entered a local establishment where the 19-year-old man was celebrating New Year's Eve with his girlfriend. Following the assault, Pavlova's son, who sustained severe injuries to the head, spent three days in the intensive care unit of the local hospital.

Finally, during the night of 22 January 2010, an unknown person cut the back tires of, and scratched, Pavlova's company car. Pavlova shared with SEEMO her conviction that this attack like many others was related only to her investigative work as a journalist.

On 29 January 2010 at 10:00am local Bulgarian time, the trial in the "Galevi" case will begin. Lidia Pavlova will appear before the court as a private claimant and a witness at the same time. She does not believe that anyone is willing to protect her in Bulgaria. According to her, policemen in the city work at the same time as bodyguards for persons involved in the "Galevi" case.

SEEMO expresses great dismay at these direct physical attacks and at the harassment of Pavlova and her family and urges timely investigations into these matters. We would like to emphasize that physical violence and harassment against journalists are not acceptable, and send potentially dangerous signals regarding the treatment of journalists who are doing their work as investigative journalists.

We call on you to reinvigorate investigative efforts into this case, and so send a strong signal that Bulgarian authorities will not tolerate such violence against a journalist.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic
SEEMO Secretary General
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