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Bulgarian investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova found brutally murdered in Ruse

Viktoria Marinova is the third reporter investigating corruption to be killed in the EU this year

Authorities are investigating the death of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova. (CREDIT: ProSieben Television)
Authorities are investigating the death of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova. (CREDIT: ProSieben Television)

A popular Bulgarian journalist, who reported on alleged corruption involving European Union funds, has been brutally raped and murdered in the town of Ruse, on the border with Romania.

The body of Viktoria Marinova, 30, was discovered in a park next to the River Danube on Saturday. According to the European Federation of Journalists Marinova had been beaten and strangled, and the attack was so vicious that she wasn’t able to be identified until Sunday night.

Bulgarian authorities have said that there is no indication yet that Marinova had been murdered because of he work. “It was about rape and murder,” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told the Guardian. “The best criminologists were sent to Ruse, let’s not press them,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov added. “A large amount of DNA had been obtained.”

However, the owner of Bulgarian news site Bivol.bg, Asen Yordanov, said that the horrific slaying was almost certainly linked to her work.

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“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution,” Yordanov said. “It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning.” In the first episode of her new program, Marinova had interviewed Bivol journalist Dimitar Stoyanov about an investigation into “large-scale and widespread corruption” with EU-funded projects. Stoyanov had previously been arrested investigating the story and had reportedly faced threats for his reporting.

In the past year in the European Union, three journalists investigating corruption stories have been murdered.

Last October, Daphne Caurana Galizia, a Malta-based investigative journalist, was killed by a car bomb. She had recently revealed murky links between the Maltese government and three offshore companies which had received payments from the government of Azerbaijan. In February, Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were also assassinated in their home. One of Kuciak’s articles alleged that Italian businessmen with links to organized crime had been embezzling EU money and cultivating links with powerful officials in the Slovak government.

Two other journalists have also been killed this year in Europe working on matters unrelated to corruption. In April, Danish inventor Peter Madsen was arrested for the August 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall.

Meanwhile, dissident Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, and is presumed to have been killed.

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A colleague of Marinova described her as “extremely disciplined, ambitious, always putting herself fully into what she is doing and a person with an extreme sense of justice.” Harlem Désir, Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that he was shocked and saddened by Marinova’s “horrific” murder and demanded and full and independent investigation into the incident.