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RFE/RL Formally Opens New Bureau In Sofia, Part Of Relaunch Of Bulgarian Service

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has formally dedicated a new bureau in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, as part of the broadcaster's relaunch of its Bulgarian Service.

The event, held on June 12, marks the official return of the Bulgarian Service, which started digital operations in January.

RFE/RL operated a Bulgarian Service for years during and after the Cold War until shuttering it in 2004.

"When we left Bulgaria in 2004, the dominant opinion was that communism had collapsed, the West had won, freedom would inevitably come, and media freedom as well," Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL's vice president and editor in chief, said at a ceremony marking the bureau's opening.

"As we see today, this is not the case in many countries. Media freedom is a process and it takes a long time to be established," he said. "We hope we can help going through that bumpy road."

Since beginning operations, RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service has broken major stories, such as uncovering a massive real-estate scandal involving ruling party members. The reports have roiled Bulgarian politics and led to the resignation of a powerful lawmaker.

They've also elicited the ire of one far-right political party, which accused RFE/RL of "working to destroy the Bulgarian state."

In addition to the relaunch of the Bulgarian Service, RFE/RL restarted its Romanian Service earlier this year.

Both countries, which joined the European Union in 2007, have been plagued by rampant corruption.

In announcing the relaunch of the Bulgarian Service last year, RFE/RL's then-president, Thomas Kent, said he hoped the move would help encourage the growth of a free press and promote democratic values.

Funded mainly by a grant from the U.S. Congress, RFE/RL is a private, nonprofit organization that reports in 26 languages in 22 countries across Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and South Asia.

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    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

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