Viktoria Marinova was a 30-year-old journalist in Bulgaria. Bulgarian officials say she was raped and killed on October 6, 2018 in the city of Ruse. It was not immediately clear if her work as an investigative reporter was connected to her violent death.
Investigators have a suspect in custody who has confessed. His name is Severin Krasimirov, a 21-year-old Bulgarian national. He was arrested in Germany on October 9. He told officials he had been under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time, and got into an argument with Marinova, who he had never met before. Krasimirov denied raping her, and says the killing was not intentional.
Candlelight vigils were held for Marinova on October 8 in Ruse, the Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia and others.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Marinova Was Beaten & Suffocated; Investigators Say The Alleged Killer’s DNA Was Recovered
Viktoria Marinova’s body was discovered on Saturday, October 6. She was found near a jogging path in a park near the Danube river. The BBC reported that Marinova had been beaten over the head and suffocated. The news outlet cited the Interior Minister, Mladen Marinov, as confirming as Marinova had been raped.
The Ruse regional prosecutor said that the journalist’s phone, keys and glasses had been taken from the scene. Clothing items were also missing.
What investigators did recover, however, was DNA. The Interior Minister said that the DNA found on Marinova’s clothes and body connected Krasimirov to the crime scene.
2. The Murder Prompted Speculation About Whether Viktoria Marinova Was Killed For Her Reporting
Viktoria Marinova had recently begun working as a news anchor for a show called “Detector.” It aired on TVN, a television channel based in Ruse.
On September 30, just a few days before she was murdered, Marinova’s story about possible corruption involving European Union funds aired on the channel. She interviewed two Romanian journalists with the Romanian Rise Project. They had been looking into whether certain politicians and businessmen were engaged in fraud.
Government officials are unsure whether Marinova’s work as a journalist served as motivation for the murder. Chief prosector Sotir Tsatsarov said they are exploring every option. “We do not exclude that it was a random attack, we do not exclude that it was a premeditated attempt on her life.”
3. Marinova Began Working at the TV Station in February 2018
Viktoria Marinova began working for TVN in February 2018, according to her Facebook page. She was hired to work on “Detector,” a talk show dedicated to current affairs and politics. It was being relaunched and September 30 was the debut episode.
Prior to joining TVN, Marinova worked at a company called Networx. She was a secretary at the company, according to her LinkedIn page. The company shared an article about Marinova’s death. The headline, roughly translated, means “Goodbye, Viktoria.”
4. Viktoria Marinova Was a Mother
Viktoria Marinova leaves behind a young daughter, as reported by Agence France-Presse. Her Facebook page includes several photos with her daughter. In June of 2018, Marinova shared the picture above, from a field of flowers with her little girl. The caption, translated from Bulgarian, means “The most expensive things are without price!”
Marinova’s Facebook page reveals many clues about her personality. She clearly had a humorous side, as evidenced in the video above. Posted on August 19, it shows Marinova speaking after inhaling helium from a balloon.
Marinova also appeared unafraid to tackle new heights. She shared pictures from a skydiving trip on September 23, 2018.
5. Marinova is the Fourth Journalist Killed in the European Union Since August 2017 & Journalism Groups Have Demanded a Thorough Investigation
Marinova’s colleagues reportedly fear for their own lives following the brutal murder. One TVN employee spoke with Agence France-Presse. He told the news agency, “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats, aimed at her or the television. He described Marinova as “extremely disciplined” and “ambitious.”
Journalism groups have demanded that Bulgarian officials thoroughly investigate the murder, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists. European Union Representative Tom Gibson put out a statement that reads in part, “CPJ is shocked by the barbaric murder of journalist Victoria Marinova. Bulgarian authorities must employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible.”
Bulgaria is reportedly one of the most dangerous countries to work as a journalist in the European Union. Reporters Without Borders ranks it 111 on its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
The organization asserts that the Bulgarian government attempts to inspire positive coverage by how it distributes funding. The site says, “The government’s allocation of EU funding to certain media outlets is conducted with a complete lack of transparency, in effect bribing them to go easy on the government in their reporting or refrain from covering certain problematic stories altogether. Threats and attacks against journalists have intensified in recent months. It can prove dangerous to be a journalist in Bulgaria.”
Marinova is the fourth journalist to be killed in the European Union since August 2017. Swedish journalist Kim Wall was killed in August 2017; an inventor named Peter Madsen was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In October 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia from Malta was killed when a car bomb went off near her home. She was known for her investigative reporting on government figures. NPR reported that she had received multiple death threats over the years.
In February 2018, Jan Kuciak of Slovakia and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, were shot and killed. He had been investigating potential ties between politicians and Italian organized crime at the time of his death.