The head of the United Nations agency mandated with protecting press freedom today condemned the killing of Bobi Tsankov, a journalist who had taken on organized crime in Bulgaria, and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators – who committed the act in the centre of the capital in broad daylight – to justice.
“It seems clear that he [Tsankov] was targeted because he was revealing information about criminal activities. Such a brazen attack jeopardizes freedom of expression and freedom of the press, rights that are basic and essential to ensure a democratic society,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in a statement issued today.
The 30-year-old Mr. Tsankov was killed on 5 January when two unidentified gunmen opened fire on him and two other men, identified as his bodyguards, at noontime on the busy Aleksandur Stamboliiski Boulevard in Sofia. There had been previous attempts on his life.
Since September of last year, Mr. Tsankov had written a series of articles in the newspaper Weekend detailing the activities of alleged crime bosses. He had also published a book in December entitled “The Secrets of Gangsters” and, according to press reports, was planning a new book about drug trafficking.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Bulgaria has recently seen a surge in organized crime.