Bulgaria – Most Vulnerable in the EU to Russian propaganda

Politics | September 20, 2023, Wednesday // 09:44|  views

"Bulgaria is most vulnerable to Russian propaganda in the EU".

This was stated in the European Parliament in Brussels by Antoinette Nikolova - director of the Balkan Free Media Initiative.

She presented a study jointly developed by BFMI, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CID) and the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia). The moderators of the event were Antoinette Nikolova and Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev from GERB and the European People's Party (EPP).

The topic was about the spread of disinformation in the Balkans, and in particular how international companies are supporting Russia through their advertisements in the media without even wanting it.

Bulgaria's vulnerability is due to the sense of historical connection with Russia, said Nikolova. Mainstream media in the country do not spread open disinformation, but present statements of pro-Russian politicians, and this facilitates the infiltration of Russian propaganda.

She cites data according to which 70 percent of Bulgarians learn the news from television and watch an average of 3 hours of television programs per day.

However, the most problematic media in Bulgaria are not televisions. It is clear from the survey that these are "Blitz", "Pogled.Info", "Trud" and "Glasove". However, BSTV - the party television of the Bulgarian Socialist Party - was also included in the study.

World statistics indicate that almost 1 trillion euros goes to disinformation. However, this concept does not always mean fake news. Many times the information is half true. It is from a Russian source, then mixed with other facts that are somewhat true, somewhat sound very credible.

The problem is that people are not required to read and prepare for these things. But they are the victims of this type of misinformation. When it comes to media, the main ones like television, radio have some professional standards. But there is almost no regulation for online media, Nikolova pointed out.

And that is why it is not easy to overcome those in Bulgaria who still doubt the massacre in Bucha. Nikolova also recalled how the chairman of the Electronic Media Council (Sonya Momchilova) openly accused the Western countries of spreading propaganda about Bucha, claiming that everything was faked.

"The legislative act on the media, which is about to be adopted, should at least soften the problem. It will oblige the big players outside the EU to realize that countries like Bulgaria make a big difference. Although we are a small market for the big players, we are in an important geographical location", hopes the BFMI director.

Currently, international media organizations are trying to stop the flow of money to troubled media. This also applies to the middlemen who distribute ads without the big brands suspecting that their names serve extremely low-qualification media.

"At the moment, it regularly happens next to an article with false statements - for example, that NATO provoked Russia to attack Ukraine - we see the advertisement of a prestigious global company", pointed out Antoinette Nikolova.

As another interesting fact, she singled out a phenomenon that, according to her, exists perhaps only in Bulgaria. Namely, that many Bulgarian media openly rely on Russian sources such as RIA Novosti. And they refer to them even for events happening in Germany or in Brussels.

"In the world of the global network, when a single sentence can reach millions, if not billions of users, the spread of false information is extremely dangerous. With regard to disinformation and specifically lying, it is envisaged to minimize the visibility of disinformation campaigns, which are both from the inside through the proxies of foreign countries and directly from the outside," Andrey Kovatchev said about the future law.

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Tags: Russian, propaganda, Bulgaria, EU


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