SEEMO Urges Bulgarian Clergy to Respect Media FreedomSociety | March 15, 2012, Thursday // 10:24| views
Eleven out of a total of fifteen Bulgarian Metropolitan bishops have been exposed as collaborators and agents of the country's former Communist State Security. File photo
Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General of the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), has strongly condemned pressure on reporters in Bulgaria.
In a declaration Vujovic urges the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to respect media freedom.
The declaration comes on the heels of a report of the Bulgarian State TV BNT that Vratsa Bishop Kalinik slapped a journalist on the face with a newspaper. When she asked him why he had hit her, the Bishop replied: "I am not hitting you, just trying to close your mouth."
Reporters have approached the bishops as they gathered for a meeting of the Holy Synod with questions on how they will react to recent revelations that the majority of them have been agents and collaborators of the former Communist State Security.
SEEMO point out that "on 13 March 2012, Metropolitan Kalinik of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church tried to silence a reporter by threatening her. Eliana Dimitrova, a reporter with the public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT), approached several Orthodox bishops, gathered for a Synod meeting, and asked a question related to recently uncovered files that allegedly reveal collaboration between religious leaders and former security services during the socialist regime in Bulgaria.
Metropolitan Kalinik approached the journalist, according to a BNT video posted on the broadcaster's website, in order to silence her. He wanted to "shut her mouth," according to his own words, registered on the video.
"I am surprised that a religious representative behaves in this way. I do hope that the church authorities will take actions against Metropolitan Kalnik and condemn his behavior," said Oliver Vujovic.