Bulgarian TV Journalist Murdered in EU's Third Killing in a Year

(Bloomberg) -- A Bulgarian television journalist was brutally murdered, the third reporter to be killed in a year in the European Union as concern grows for press safety.

Police and prosecutors are investigating the death of 30-year-old Victoria Marinova, who hosted a show on the regional TVN channel. She was found dead Saturday near the Danube River in the city of Russe. She had head injuries and there were signs of rape and suffocation, according to the Interior Ministry.

“I am shocked by the horrific murder of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria,” Harlem Desir, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s representative on freedom of the media, said in an emailed statement. “I will closely follow the investigation opened by the authorities. I urge them to swiftly identify and bring to justice those responsible and to clearly determine whether this attack was linked to her work.”

Marinova’s slaying follows those of prominent journalists in Malta and Slovakia, with both murders linked to their work and both sparking public outrage. Bulgaria was the lowest-ranking EU member in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The Paris-based group called corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs “widespread.”

Marinova’s last show included an interview with two journalists who were arrested last month while working on a graft probe related to EU funding. A non-governmental organization behind previous anti-government protests has arranged via social media what it calls a “vigil” to commemorate the murdered journalist.

“We don’t have information of her receiving any threats,” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said told reporters in Sofia on Sunday. “We also don’t have any information that connects the crime to her work, but we’re not ruling out this version until we have proof.”

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