The Modern Times Group, a Swedish media conglomerate that has TV channels in Scandinavia and the Balkan states, has yanked an animated cartoon from it’s Bulgarian station‘s website and fired the cartoon’s creator, Chavdar Nikolov. The cartoon lampooned Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov‘s support for a gang of vigilantes intent on apprehending refugees slipping into that country. The cartoon contrasted Khan Asparukh, the founder of Bulgaria, leading Bulghar warriors with Prime Minister Borisov leading a seedy bunch of vigilantes. In addition to that animation, 90 others that Chavdar Nikolov had produced for the station were removed from its website.
Reporting the censorship, Reporters Without Borders declared: “A media outlet’s management has a duty to maintain the editorial independence of the journalists who work for it . . . The media must participate in the democratic debate, which includes this kind of cartoon. Media freedom is not a trite formula. It is incredible that media outlets must be reminded of their duty to respect it. All of Nikolov’s cartoons must be restored to the website.”
The censorship contradicts MTG’s own mission statement. Prime Minister Borisov denies getting the animation banned, saying: “In the times of Facebook and Internet, to take off information is suicide.”