Russian influence in the Bulgarian media is a growing concern.
Russia manages to extend its influence in the Bulgarian media by being “unnoticed”, with minimal evidence that any particular media outlet is owned by the Kremlin.
According to a report by Dr.Rumena Filipova, Russian influence in the Bulgarian media comes as a result of Western investors exiting in the country.
“For over a decade, the Bulgarian media landscape has been characterized by two complementary processes: the gradual exit of large Western media investors following the 2008 financial crisis and the concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few domestic oligarchic networks.” it is said on the report.
However, there are many local media outlets mentioned in this report, which indirectly convey Russian messages and propaganda. The list of these media also includes some of the most popular in Bulgaria, such as: News Front, Ataka, Monitor and Mediapool.
“The Kremlin has successfully leveraged this form of national media capture by engaging with local tycoons and oligarchs. In this way, the Kremlin can utilize local media outlets to spread propaganda and influence strategic decision-making without exposing itself as a media owner.”
For this, CSD research, argues based on statistical facts.
“The analysis of the corporate footprint in the Bulgarian media sector reveals an insignificant presence of companies with Russian ultimate beneficial ownership. Out of 10,304 media companies active in the country, only 74 have a foreign global ultimate ownership. More specifically, Russia’s direct corporate footprint in the Bulgarian media landscape is minimal. There is only one media firm (Studio Dvrender), whose ultimate beneficial owner is registered in Russia. The firm has not declared an operating revenue and its activities are focused only in the motion picture and TV production sector, providing audio-visual services on a small scale.”
Although unnoticed, the Russian media have managed to extend wide influence in Bulgaria.
In the case of a more detailed analysis of the media in the country, those with Russian influence figure in the majority.
“Pro-Russian outlets score a quantitative win, which if picked up by the search engines and social media algorithms could further reinforce pro-Russian narratives among the Bulgarian public.” it is concluded in the CSD report.