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Media Review: December 29

Russia Declares Investigative Journalist Hristo Grozev Wanted
Telegraf summarizes the developments in the case of journalist Hristo Grozev from the investigative website “Bellingcat”, who was declared wanted by the Russian Federation. A statement from Russia’s Interior Ministry says he is wanted for violating an article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Reactions ensued.
The Bulgarian institutions have been in contact with Hristo Grozev since before the media reports on the subject, and measures have been taken to ensure his safety, including through cooperation with partner services, the head of State’s press secretariat said.
Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova has been summoned to a meeting Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting will discuss the ban on the study of the Bulgarian language in the regions of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation, the removal of portraits of Bulgarian historical figures, as well as the announced search for Bulgarian investigative journalist Hristo Grozev, the press centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
GERB-UDF said that through its MEPs it would bring the case to the attention of the European People’s Party and its European partners and would make it known to all European institutions.
Leader of the European Liberals Ilhan Kyuchyuk started collecting signatures in the European Parliament and launched a cross-party initiative in support of Hristo Grozev. Kyuchyuk called for Europe-wide protection of the journalist and sent written questions to the High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell.
MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi wrote on Facebook that the protection of fundamental freedoms and civil rights, and the right to defend an objective journalistic position are among the main priorities of the party and they will not stop demanding that state institutions take an active stance.  
Daniel Lorer of Continue the Change said he would propose that the Foreign Minister be called to the Foreign Affairs Committee for a hearing on the very first work day of the National Assembly.
The BSP noted in a position that it expects the Bulgarian institutions to request additional information from Russia to clarify the case and to seek assistance from partner services and European and international organisations. The right to freedom of expression is at the heart of democracy and the BSP objects to any direct or indirect attempt to infringe it, the party said.
The Bulgarian Rise coalition said it condemns any attempts to pressure and prosecute journalists for their work and urged the Bulgarian government to initiate all necessary actions to clarify the case as soon as possible.
Putting journalist Hristo Grozev on the federal wanted list in Russia is purely symbolic, according to former Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior Nikolai Radulov, who spoke on the morning show of Nova TV. He said that in very extreme cases, on direct order by the leadership of the state, something can be done to ensure the security of a Bulgarian citizen threatened in this way: have them escorted to the relevant embassy and evacuated to Bulgaria following a special protocol. However, this is not what Grozev wants, according to Radulov.
National security expert Boyko Noev said on the air of bTV that if not for Grozev, the activity of Russia’s special services in Bulgaria would have never been investigated. He added that mechanisms are in place to ensure the safety of the journalist.
24 Chasa publishes the predictions of political analysts for 2023
According to Genoveva Petrova from Alpha Research, the political processes throughout the year have been quite turbulent, but we see a tendency towards alienation and withdrawal of people from them, expressed mostly in their refusal to vote in the next early elections, and this does not imply a smooth resolution of the political crisis. Another important regret is the decline in people’s trust in institutions and politicians. Depending on how these two trends develop, we can judge what kind of year we are in for.
Trend’s Dimitar Ganev says that the two main issues of concern this year have been high prices and inflation. In his opinion, 2023 will likely be worse than the previous year in economic terms. On the other hand, two camps have emerged in 2022. The one around Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria is more progressive, more liberal and sounds more globalist. Their voters are mostly from the capital and the big regional cities, younger and with higher educational status. The other camp is more conservative, more local, more national, and dominated by GERB. Middle-aged people with moderate incomes vote for it. Ganev expects that in 2023 these two camps will remain the two main rivals on Bulgaria’s political stage and it will be dominated by their struggle. However, he says it will not unfold in possible snap elections in March, but in the mayoral elections in the autumn of 2023, which will give the parties a more stable base and a secure four-year perspective in which they can rely on financial and municipal staff resources.
Parvan Simeonov of Gallup International says that the first determining factor for next year is the war in Ukraine, which will obviously continue in 2023. The second is the financial situation of the country, which is going into the red. The banal domestic political factor for 2023 is the permanent electoral situation. Unfortunately, all the other factors are nondomestic, beyond our control, and the crises are piling up. It seems 2023 will be a continuation, if not an exacerbation of 2022, Simeonov says.
Trud writes that according to Deputy Transport Minister Krasimir Papukchiyski Bulgaria cannot be blamed for the train derailment in Pirot, eastern Serbia. There are currently more than twenty freight trains waiting on the territory of Bulgaria bound for Serbia, but the connection has been disrupted because of the incident. Papukchiyski expects that on Friday at the latest the passage in the Pirot area will be restored.
BNT reports that after the election of a new board of directors at Bulgarian Posts, the symbolic protest actions of the employees continue with the demand for higher pay and more careful management of the company. A meeting between the new board and the trade union is due to take place, and if it does not lead to the demands being met, the staff will move to effective strike action in January.
BNR reports that vouchers for household appliances will be distributed to families affected by the floods in the villages of Bogdan, Karavelovo, Slatina and Voinyagovo. The donation will be distributed by the Municipality. The vouchers are personal and can be received according to a schedule in front of the town halls of the four villages. The appliances will be provided when an organization for their transportation to the settlements is established, the Municipality of Karlovo specifies.
The dynamic changes in the geopolitical context and the growing risks to national and collective security require Bulgaria’s armed forces to develop adequate defence capabilities and increased interoperability with its allies at a much faster pace, President Rumen Radev said, as quoted by BNR, at the ceremony where Colonel Hristo Ganetsovski was appointed Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces Command and received the senior officer rank of Brigadier General.
Search efforts continue
Nova TV reports that a 15-year-old girl from the Vratsa village of Kravoder has been missing for five days. The worried parents are searching for her both with police and on their own. Relatives began the search hours after the child left home on Friday night. The girl’s parents suspect she may have been kidnapped for prostitution. They do not believe she has run away. Theodora’s relatives appeal to anyone who has any information about her to contact the police.
The search operation in the Pirin continues. For almost three days mountain rescuers have been trying to find a trace of a 69-year-old man who has been missing since Monday, when he was last seen in the Shiligarnika area. Later, speaking to a friend on the phone, the missing man said that he was at the foot of Vihren peak. Today the search will resume, using drones.