Reuters retracts report on Bulgarian nationalist march

A controversial report by a Reuters journalist led to an official reaction from the organisers of a Nationalist rally in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Mirko Savage reports:
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Reuters, one of the leading news agencies worldwide, have retracted part of their news report about a Nationalist demonstration held in Bulgaria on February 16th, 2019. The torchlit rally, known as the “Lukov March”, honours the memory of General Hristo Lukov, the Bulgarian patriot and hero from the First World War.

Lukov was the leader of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, which was the most powerful patriotic organisation in the 1930’s. Because of his activities as a Nationalist and his ties to prominent high rank German officials of the era he was killed by a communist assault group on 13th of February, 1943.

In the initial version of the report, written by Angel Krasimirov, a Bulgarian Reuters reporter, participants of the event were described as being “…  Mostly young man in dark clothing, many bearing swastikas and making the Nazi salute.”

Several days after the publication of the Reuters news report a representative of the organisers of the Lukov March contacted Krasimirov by telephone asking him for proof positive of his description of march participants being, “Mostly young man in dark clothing, many bearing swastikas and making the Nazi salute” as stated in his report.

The journalist was kindly reminded that these were serious accusations that needed to be proven, as such acts are considered a crime according to article 108 (1) of the Bulgarian Penal Code.

Krasimirov claimed that he personally witnessed the above-mentioned people, symbols and actions while walking around different locations in downtown Sofia BEFORE the rally had even started. He however admitted he didn’t have any actual photo or video evidence that could prove his claims. Nevertheless the damage had already been done, as the original version of the article had by now been read by thousands on the Reuters web site and had also been quoted by several other online news websites worldwide such as News Yahoo, Business Insider and the Times of Israel.After being contacted by the Nationalist representative, Krasimirov, (following the standards of the media that he works for), slightly edited his report later that same day.
Corrections can be seen HERE (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bulgaria-farright-march/far-right-activists-stage-torchlit-march-in-bulgarian-capital-idUSKCN1Q50PG)

The author admitted that the initial version of paragraph 3 of his article could easily have misled readers  but he went on to claim that this had not been his purpose.

However he is still unable to prove in any way that there were people “who wore shirts emblazoned with swastikas and made the Nazi salute at several places before the start of the march in downtown Sofia”, a claim that still remains in Krasimirov’s partially corrected version. No photos or videos of such where ever taken. Nor was he able to prove that such people (if there even were any) had participated in the torchlit march as well.

Remember that the Lukov March itself had been heavily guarded by around 700 police officers. Police cameras had filmed the whole event and the state prosecutor was on duty that day monitoring the marchers for the use of any forbidden symbols or slogans.
At least a dozen domestic and international TV channels were present, as well as many other journalists and photo reporters too. There was not a single incident or one official complaint before, during or after the march.

In a statement, Zvezdimir Andronov, Chairman of the Bulgarian National Union, who were the organisers of the torchlit Lukov March rally, pointed out that,  “A case such as this can only serve as an example of how the mainstream mass media try to portray the people who attend Nationalist rallies in Bulgaria and across Europe. We will not tolerate any attempt at spreading unproven information towards us and our fellow supporters”.

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