site.btaPresident Radev's Office Slams Deutsche Welle Article as "Based on False Rumours, Interpretations"
The office of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev issued a statement on Thursday arguing that a German-language article by Christopher Nehring in Deutsche Welle, entitled "Bulgaria: The Two Faces of President Rumen Radev", was based on "false rumours and misinterpretations" and did not comply with professional ethics and journalistic standards.
The statement said further that the office approached DW, claiming a right of reply, on May 16 - the same day the article was published, but a public response to this request has not been received to date. "It is against the traditions of a free public media outlet to deny a right of reply to a publication when a reasoned objection to it has been raised to the effect that this publication invites certain untrue conclusions," the President's office said.
Radev's Media Relations Secretary wrote to the broadcaster that "keeping the German public informed of matters related to Bulgaria relies on the responsibility of a public media outlet to both countries' citizens". "In this process, facts should take the upper hand, regardless of the analysts' partiality and convictions. Objective coverage is an important condition for asserting the image of any media outlet as a reliable source of information. This is all the more significant when it comes to the perceptions the media outlet creates in citizens of two friendly and allied countries," the President's Press Secretariat said.
More specifically, the President's office takes exception to the allegation that "the opposition between President Radev and former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov boiled down to a pro-Russian/pro-Western dichotomy". The statement argues that "these notions only floated in the froth of political debate in Bulgaria through which the former powerholders intended to belittle the head of State's categorical rejection of the vicious corruption model of a merger of state institutions and businesses".
The reference is to the following part of the article: "Radev's first presidency was dominated by his hostility towards Bulgaria's long-term prime minister Boyko Borisov. This was a clash of harsh opposites: pro-Western and pro-Russia orientation, popular and elitist political style, firebrand and officer. Behind it all, a dirty power struggle raged: after Radev wanted to prevent the appointment of the Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, who was heavily criticised by the EU, the latter organised a raid on the presidential palace with Borisov's support."
The President's office further expresses "bewilderment at the insinuation in the article that President Radev owes his high political rating to some successful ministers in his caretaker government who are now senior members of the present Bulgarian Government".
The passage in question reads: "The transitional government appointed by Radev catapulted him to the top of the reform movement. His lucky hand in selecting ministers, including the current Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Deputy Prime Minister Asen Vasilev, was undoubtedly his greatest coup. It not only ensured sustained high popularity ratings, but also strengthened his image as a reformer and guaranteed him influence on day-to-day politics not provided for by the constitution. However, both are melting away daily since the war in Ukraine."
The Press Secretariat says that the President appoints the caretaker ministers and "they can reach their full scope solely and exclusively thanks to his trust in them and in fulfilment of the priorities defined by the President: combating corruption, transparency, and rule of law".
The President's office also found "illogical" the article's suggestion that President Radev's call for an end to hostilities in Ukraine, return to dialogue and preventing Bulgaria's direct embroilment in the military conflict "has led to diminishing public support."
Further on, it denies that the President has taken a position against allied support for protecting the Bulgarian air space with a military conflict raging in the neighbourhood. "If the article used the President's public statements and the official information published on the President's official webpage rather than on manipulative media interpretations, such false allegations would have been avoided."
The reference is to the following passage: "On the one hand, Radev condemns the Russian attack and publicly expresses Bulgaria's loyalty to NATO, of which the country has been a member since 2004. At the same time, as DW learned from NATO circles in Sofia, he caused great astonishment when he railed against the securing of Bulgarian airspace by NATO forces, which are supposed to compensate for the desolate state of the domestic air force."
The President's office rejects claims that Radev started his political career in Moscow and has come back to where it started. "The President's re-election in November 2021 is a strong enough indication of how Bulgarian voters assess this outright propaganda. President Rumen Radev is accountable to Bulgarians who have trusted him. As you well know, other European politicians have chosen to represent Russian interests and capital, and German politicians are no exception," the President's office said.
It reacts to a part in the story subheaded "Russian connections" which reads: "As BSP chair Kornelia Ninova admitted after the election, she had discussed Radev's candidacy with Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired intelligence general and head of the Moscow Institute for Strategic Research (RISS). Reshetnikov had previously conducted a survey in Bulgaria to determine the most promising candidate profile. He used the head of the Russophile movement, Nikolai Malinov, who has since been accused of being a 'Russian influence agent'. The result was Rumen Radev, whom Reschetnikov hoped would reorient Bulgaria from the West towards Russia."
The DW article points out: "Radev rejects military aid to Ukraine because it 'prolongs the war' and represents a 'dangerous step towards direct entry into the war'. Warnings of the 'self-destruction of Europe' and calls for Bulgarian 'neutrality' have also recently become part of his rhetorical repertoire. In recent weeks, Radev has fuelled the resulting conflict with the pro-Western Prime Minister Petkov by intensifying the dispute with North Macedonia or attacking the government's crisis management after the Russian gas supplies were stopped."
"There will be little of all this during Radev's visit to Berlin. His pro-Russian, nationalist anti-NATO rhetoric is reserved for Bulgarian domestic politics. When he appears on the international stage, he likes to play the role of a loyal ally and peace-bringer intent on reconciliation. As on his visit to Prague on 10 May 2022, he will condemn the Russian war of aggression, advocate good neighbourly relations in the Balkans and call for diversification of European energy imports. In short: he will play the role of President Rumen Radev, which he has carved out for himself for his appearances abroad in the West," the Deutsche Welle item concluded.