The Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria condemns attack by police on a Bulgarian journalist covering the anti-government protests on Wednesday in Sofia.
Dimiter Kenarov, a freelance journalist and writer, was briefly detained and beaten up by police late in the evening when tensions between protesters and police escalated.
He said that while he identified as a reporter multiple times, police officers dragged him across the pavement and handcuffed him. Moreover, he was wearing a mask marked “PRESS” and he showed the police his press card. Officers ignored his pleas that he could not breathe and brutally kicked him in the head.
Kenarov was kept handcuffed for hours before being taken to a police station. He was released around 4:30 am on Thursday. The journalist suffered injuries to his face and head.
At least one other journalist has been a victim of police violence. Officers hit Nikolay Doychinov, Sofia-based photojournalist for Agence France-Presse, in the back with batons and damaged his camera.
Earlier on Wednesday several journalists and television crews were pepper sprayed when clashes between riot police and protesters broke out. Nikolay Minkov, a reporter at Bulgarian National Television, the public broadcaster, fainted in the morning after he had been gassed.
Police violence against journalists documenting protests in the country is unacceptable. We call on authorities not to target journalists who are covering the protest and ensure that they could fulfil their professional duties freely and safely. The Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria will continue to monitor excessive use of force by the police during the demonstrations.