An executive in a Bulgarian National Television was fired from her position after allegedly asking questions regarding Bulgarian politician, media mogul and oligarch Delyan Peevski, Radio Free Europe reported.
Viktoria Behar, the Strategic Development manager was on May 8th, one week after Milyana Veleva became the director of the media. The decision was made one week after a planning meeting, during which Behar allegedly asked Veleva a question of her connections to the Movement of Rights and Freedoms party member Delyan Peevski.
Prior to being placed at the head of Nova TV, Milyana Veleva was an executive in TV7 and Channel 3, and the change was the big significant one since two other Bulgarian oligarchs – Kiril and Georgi Domuschievi purchased it on February 22nd.
Veleva was head of TV7 around the end of the period when banker Tsvetan Vasilev was controlling it – from September 2013, until Bulgarian bank KTB went bankrupt in June 2014. Vasilev escaped Bulgaria and received asylum in Serbia to escape prosecution.
After June 2014, Veleva became the leader of Channel 3. That TV station was subject to official interest by Peevsky and his mother Irena Krasteva (who while the owner of the lottery won it 3 times), but they allegedly gave up on acquiring it in the end. Regardless, Channel 3 has long followed the reporting policy of Peevski’s media.
Thus, professional past, was the reason Viktoria Behar asked the questions, according to unnamed people present at the planning meeting. Veleva was asked if after being hired to lead the TV station, she was given a specific task, since apart from her there are only 2 other executives in the media – Behar and the Chief Producer Daniel Chipev.
“This is a conversation between me and the owners,” Veleva allegedly said. She was reportedly directly asked if she directly associates with the media policy of the Peevski-controlled media – she responded that she’s been in the field since she was 18 years old and has worked for a lot of people.
When Veleva was asked if whether political and other events should be reflected so that the media doesn’t confront some specific participants in them, she said that she believed in “balance in life.” When the question was asked once again, she said she believed in “balanced journalism.”
According to participants in the planning meeting, Viktoria Behar actively participated in asking the questions and a week later she was told that the owners of Nova TV do not wish for her to be employed by them any longer.
Employees in the company, journalists and other staff were discount with the decision and confronted Veleva. She responded that journalists are “contractors” and the owners of the television own them no explanation for the decision they take.
Of course, Viktoria Behar could have been fired due to poor results, despite the numbers showing the opposite and her being initially hired by the new owners specifically because of her great reputation and professionalism.
Nova TV, according to official data is the most viewed national television out of Bulgaria’s three.
Behar has long experience as a journalist, producer and PR. She initially started off in another Bulgarian national TV – Btv, since its founding until 2014, when she left together with Lyuba Rizova. She was then News Director in Bulgaria ON AIR, while during the Bulgarian chairmanship of the EU she was the director of “Communication and Information” at the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Peevski’s media group consisting of 6 newspapers, “New Bulgarian Media Group” controls nearly 80% of print media distribution. He is said to control or influence many other local medias and websites, that he does not officially own.
In 2013, he was elected as President of the State National Security Agency, but after protesters the decision was reversed. In May 2014, he was elected as a member of the European Parliament, but gave up his seat, saying that the only reason he entered the elections was to restore his reputation.