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D evotion, glow, faith and kindness. These were among the English words that Viktoria Marinova had jotted down on notepaper that lay untouched on her desk at the TVN studios in Ruse three days after her body was found in parkland beside the river Danube. The words seemed appropriate, given that all those who knew Marinova spoke of her warmth, determination and devotion to social justice. The year-old journalist disappeared after going for a run by the river on Saturday and her body was found later that day.
Bulgarian police confirmed she had been raped before she was killed. It was the third murder of a journalist in an EU country within a year, reopening debates about the dangers of reporting, as well as the particular perils faced by female journalists. Last October, Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist, was killed when a bomb planted in her car detonated.
On Tuesday afternoon, the police announced that a Romanian citizen had been detained, but later said there was no apparent connection with the case and he would be released. Later, Bulgarian media reported that a man had been arrested in Germany and said statements from high-level officials were expected on Wednesday. There was no immediate confirmation.
Marinova worked for TVN, a small regional channel based in Ruse. Her new show was called Detektor. The first episode, which also turned out to be the last, featured interviews with two investigative journalists working on a corruption investigation into misuse of EU funds, led by the Bulgarian investigative outlet Bivol.
During the broadcast, Marinova lamented the state of media freedom in Bulgaria and promised her show would continue to discuss corruption scandals and carry out its own investigations. Transparency International ranked Bulgaria th out of countries in its most recent press freedom index, the lowest of any EU country.