NO MORE DIRTY LINEN, FOREIGNERS

by Stamen Manolov

Government-employed publicists and PRs heaved a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Boyko Borisov banned Bulgarian journalists from asking any questions at news conferences in case there were foreign dignitaries present.

Bulgarian daily 24 Hours reported that the ban was announced on 19 April on the occasion of a news conference with the visiting Moldovan prime minister. Hacks were told they were not allowed to ask questions as the "conference" was meant for "statements" only. 24 Hours went on to say that Prime MInister Boyko Borisov had threatened to impose the measure as early as the end of 2011 when some Bulgarian reporters dared ask questions during the visit of US Secret Service chief Mark Sullivan. Then Boyko Borisov, visibly annoyed at the press corps' perceived impertinence, said: "I should have listened: don't give them [the media] a chance to ruin my news conferences."

The move reflects a peculiar Bulgarian trait to try to conceal any dirty linen in case there are outsiders present. Supposedly, Bulgarian journos will be allowed to ask questions if there are no foreigners present.

It was not immediately clear whether the Bulgarian prime minister banned only Bulgarian journalists from asking questions when there were foreign dignitaries present, or whether the ban would also affect foreign journalists accompanying their own dignitaries who might happen to be visiting Bulgaria.

In the meantime, the prime minister went on with his usual outbursts about the motorways his government was building. "Seen from above, Bulgaria is a chainwork of highways," Boyko Borisov said. "I personally counted 500 cranes working on the Maritsa Motorway," the prime minister said, and added that the lives of Bulgarians will be changed forever in about two years, just after the next scheduled general election which Boyko Borisov's GERB seems slated to win.

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