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Valya APOSTOLOVA, Bulgarian National Radio correspondent


ournalists from Kardjali were taken to court for their publications. The private company Gorubso-Kardjali Ltd. filed claims against them to an amount exceeding 20,000 BGN (10,000 Euro). The company’s interests were allegedly affected by publications in the regional daily Nov Zhivot, which describe how the tailings pond of the mining company polluted the nearby villages and the Studen Kladenets dam. The company has been pursuing criminal liability from the author of the articles Tonka Gogova and from the media’s editor-in-chief Ivan Bunkov, who is also the publisher of the newspaper. In October alone Gorubso Ltd. filed 3 claims against the two journalists with the Regional and the Dounty courts of Kardjali. The first claim refers to a report published in August, entitled ·The tailings pond blasts clouds of dust.” The company claims that untrue information was publicised, which impaired the business’s reputation, inflicting non-property damages to the amount of 10,500 BGN (5,250 Euro). The claim stated that Kardjali had no problems with the sprinkler installation of the depot, as the controlling authorities have not identified any. According to the colleagues from the paper, the party affected by the publication assumes that the air is polluted only if the pollution is registered by the Regional Environmental Inspectorate. However, the central inspectorate is located at a distance of 50 km from the city, in Haskovo. It has only a representative in Kardjali, which creates an inconvenience if their professional intervention is required in non-working hours or during the weekends. As early as March this year, national and regional

media showed the clouds of dust rising from the tailings pond when the wind is stronger. The company then announced that the incident was due to the inoperative sprinkler installation of the depot, from which most of the water pumps had been stolen. According to journalists, the problem results from the non-performance of any dust-level measurements in the instance of pollution from the tailings pond. After the first claim against the Nov Zhivot reporters, another one was filed to the amount of 5,000 BGN (2,500 Euro). It also concerns the publication of untruthful information undermining the reputation of the private company. The first part of the claim stated that a photographer had taken pictures of the tailings pond without the required access permits and a picture of the corporate director Ms. Zhivka Kovacheva had been published without her consent. The third claim was dated 15 October. It referred to a material entitled: ·Gorubso pours tailings in the dam” and a subtitle: ·A commission from Kardjali Municipality, the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters, the Hygiene-Epidemiological Inspectorate and the Civil Protection Department registered the pollution yesterday.” According to the mining company, this means that it systematically, undisturbed by anyone, and almost deliberately poured tailings in the dam. The title, they say, inspired indignation and discontent with the reading audience. The task of the newspaper, the Nov Zhivot journalists claim, is to voice the problem, so that the competent authorities can handle it. The tailings pond near Kardjali has been a regular issue in the writings of national media journalists. Articles were published in the newspapers Trud, Standard, Duma. Reports were released on the national television and radio. Therefore, it is confusing that the private company is attacking only the publications of Nov Zhivot newspaper. According to the journalistic association in Kardjali, this could be considered to be an attempt at coercion and severe pressure over the entire college. A declaration in defence of the reporters was adopted by the Management Board of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists. It protests against the attempt to breach the constitutional right of citizens to information. The problem of the tailings pond was also referred to the attention of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov during his last visit to Kardjali. The matter was summarised by the Mayor Hassan Azis as one of the three important issues for the municipality, together with the construction of a market place and the correction of the bed of the Arda River. OBEKTIV 9

Journalists from Kardjali brought to court for ecological publications  
Journalists from Kardjali brought to court for ecological publications  

Publication of the journal Obektiv, number 115 Valya Apostolova