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Investigative journalist threatened again

UPDATE: Investigation into attack on journalist closed (IPI, 3 August 2012)

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, May 30, 2012 – Bulgarian investigative journalist Lidia Pavlova, who specialises in reporting on organised crime in southwest Bulgaria for the Blagoevgrad-based daily Struma and who has been the subject of a number of threatening incidents in recent years, was threatened again late last week.

Pavlova's family car was set on fire on May 25 in the town of Dupnitsa, where she resides. The incident marked the second time her car has been destroyed. Her 22-year-old son, Ivan, who has been attacked several times, reportedly as a form of pressure on Pavlova, was driving the car on the night of the latest incident.

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), expressed concern at the renewed threat.

Pavlova is the recipient of a 2010 SEEMO-CEI diploma for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and the 2009 Award for Courage in Journalism presented by the WAZ Media Group and the International Journalists Federation. A reporter for more than 15 years, she has investigated the so-called “Galevi brothers,” local businessmen who have been the subject of several criminal trials.

She has received a number of threats since trials against the Galevi brothers and their alleged accomplices began. In November 2008, Ivan Pavlov was beaten and his eardrum was broken after he supposedly spilled water on the shoe of Georgi Gradevski, a bodyguard of the Galevi brothers. On May 16, 2009, hours after the initial trial against the Galevi brothers and their alleged accomplices commenced, the rear windshield of Pavlova's car was smashed and police found a bullet inside the car.

On Jan. 1, 2010, an assailant severely beat Ivan Pavlov at a local establishment where the young man was celebrating the New Year with his girlfriend. Ivan Pavlov sustained severe injuries to the head and spent three days in the intensive care unit of the local hospital following the assault. On Jan. 22, 2010, someone slashed the tires of Lidia Pavlova's company care. The windshield of her car was smashed several times during that year and in 2011, but Pavlova did not report all of the incidents.

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: “I am very concerned for Pavlova's safety. In April 2012, a SEEMO delegation met Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Bulgaria's minister of the interior, and raised concerns regarding Pavlova's safety. The minister said he believed that another incident with Lidia Pavlova would not happen due to the high-profile nature of the trial against the Galevi brothers. I do hope that Minister Tsvetanov can offer protection to Pavlova and guarantee her safety.”

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