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Worrying escalation of violence against journalists in Bulgaria

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), has expressed concern over pressure on journalists in Bulgaria, including a number of recent attacks.

The latest case came on July 7, when a fan of the football club CSKA allegedly attacked Anton Toni Chalakov, a photographer with the daily newspaper Standart, breaking Chalakov's nose.

Only two days earlier in Bourgas, parliamentarian and far-right nationalist Ataka Party leader Volen Siderov and another member of his party reportedly attacked a crew from SKAT TV that was trying to interview them, causing physical injury to members of the crew and damage to their equipment.

SEEMO has registered several cases of threats against journalists by Siderov and members of his party in recent years.

Other recent attacks on journalists in Bulgaria include an incident on the evening of June 14 in which an unknown assailant attacked popular television talk show host Lyuba Kulezich in the Krasno Selo district of Sofia. The assailant reportedly pushed Kulezich to the ground from behind and began kicking her.

Kulezich said she previously received numerous threats and warnings, and she described the latest incident as "a message".

SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: "This is a new, worrying escalation of violence against media and journalists in Bulgaria. I am alarmed at the number of violent cases against journalists in a single EU country. Bulgarian authorities on different levels must urgently ensure that such attacks against journalists are punished to the fullest extent of the law."

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