A popular journalist from Bulgaria, 30-year-old Victoria Marinova, was reportedly raped and beaten to death, according to authorities. Marinova, who reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving the European Union, was found dead in a semi-nude state in a park in the Danube town of Ruse on Saturday.
According to the Federation of European Journalists, the journalist had been hit with such force that she was rendered unrecognizable. Reports stated that Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017. The report of her death comes amid the alleged slaying of a Washington Post writer, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a Saudi national critical of his government, reportedly disappeared after a visit to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish police have claimed that he was tortured and cut into pieces inside the consulate.
Thousands of Bulgarians staged commemorations yesterday evening, with the largest crowds turning out in Victoria Marinova’s hometown of Ruse, where she was murdered this weekend.— Marija Ristić (@Marien__R) October 9, 2018
Ongoing investigation is yet to yield results into the journalist murder.https://t.co/smAMrEIMum pic.twitter.com/o9CDaeHoST
Bulgarian officials released a statement saying they haven't yet found any evidence which suggests Marinova’s killing was associated with her work. Bulgarian Interior Minister, Mladen Marinov, said: "It is about rape and murder," according to The Guardian. However, people who have worked with the journalist have made contrary statements. The owner of news website Bivol.bg, while talking to AFP, said: "Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning."
Reports stated Marinova had recently launched her own news talk show called "Detector" and had interviewed two investigative reporters, in the first episode of the show, who were recently arrested while probing corruption involved with the misuse of EU funds.
The European Council said the two journalists — Attila Biro of the Romanian Rise Project, and Dimitar Stoyanov, a reporter for Bivol.bg — had uncovered "large-scale and widespread corruption" in EU-funded projects in Bulgaria, which were worth hundreds of millions of Bulgarian leva.
Happening now: Thousands of Bulgarians have gathered to commemorate journalist #VictoriaMarinova , murdered brutally on Saturday, in front of the Justice Chambers in Sofia, calling for an international investigation into the circumstances of her death. pic.twitter.com/kEcjdSakBB— Maria Spirova (@MariaSpirova) October 8, 2018
In light of Marinova's death, the head of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutiérrez, called for enhanced protections for journalists across Europe. “This is the fourth brutal murder of a journalist in a Member State of the European Union since 2017,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “The killers and their sponsors obviously aim to intimidate the entire profession.”