Bulgarian President Sees Democracy 'Under Threat'

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev issued a stinging critique of the government's record on corruption and press freedom Friday, saying "the foundations of democracy are being threatened to a critical degree", reported AFP.

In a televised speech, Radev said the freedom of speech won by Bulgarians after they toppled communist dictator Todor Zhivkov was now "only a memory".

Radev used the speech, given to mark the eve of the 29th anniversary of the fall of communism, to mount a scathing attack on the right-wing government led by Boyko Borisov.

Radev has been a thorn in the side of Borisov since he was elected in November 2016 with the backing of the opposition Socialist Party (BSP).

Although the presidency is a largely ceremonial role, according to the constitution it is meant to "embody the unity of the nation".

Radev said that "lobbying and corruption have permeated the entire system of government and have made it arrogant.

"Corruption and the arbitrary exercise of power will endure... as long as society remains indifferent," he added.

Radev also had harsh words for the press in his speech, arguing they had abandoned their role as a check on power.

"Professional standards in the media have collapsed, and so has citizens' trust in the information they receive," he said.

Bulgaria languishes in 111th place in the latest World Press Freedom Index compiled by journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the worst score in the EU.

An RSF report last year described Bulgaria's press industry as mired in "corruption and collusion between media, politicians and oligarchs". 

Radev's intervention comes just days before the European Commission is due to...

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