How to stop a corrupted legislation in a media manipulated environment?

28.04.2014 - 12:00
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Lyubomir Kostadinov
Lecturer affiliation: 
ZaDaOstanePriroda / For the nature (Sofia, Bulgarien)

A picture of a prime minister talking casually with a bank owner at a sporting event is not an extraordinary thing especially in East Europe.  The trouble comes when the banker asks for a small favour – a law is to be hastily amended so as to allow construction over public state forests.  To add more substance to his demand the banker also shuts down his ski resort next to the capital.  His black mail seems to work well: the ski facilities remain freezed in the snowiest winter in the past few years and mass media is utilized to divert the public discontent from the racketeer towards environmentalist.  The scandal is wrapped by the dark PR as a clash between prosperity and some foreign agents, who try to halt development and national economy.  The plot goes smoothly and in 6 months the legislation is adopted.

Yet astonishingly the law is suddenly stopped …

As a leading activist in 2012 protest in Sofia, Lyubomir Kostadinov, lawyer currently working for WWF Bulgaria, will give his account of the story and explain in his own words how a small group of people, armed with nothing but motivation contributed to the civic empowerment and eventually stopped a corrupted law.  Was this a handbook ‘tipping point’ scenario or there is some subtle global context?  How these events related to the processes in East Europe as whole?  Why more and more young educated people strive to become vocal and overthrow the obsolete stereotype of formal leadership?  This is a true story of a horizontal protest movement, which not only materialized significant policy success, but also laid down the foundations of the new trend in Bulgarian society of perpetual protest as underlined by the New York Times.  

In his presentation Lyubomir will try also to address the issue of mass media manipulation with profound impact on public opinion.  What is the weapon against footages editing in live broadcast?  How do you fight with fierce dark PR to persuade about 80% of the population to express support for your efforts?  What is the role of Facebook and professional internet trolling?

This story is a prime example how a small group of people can surprisingly well oppose grand schemes.  But it should not be perceived as just another green movement, as it illustrates the fundamental problems before the former communist countries.  Thus the fact that legislation could be traded undermines the whole EU orientation of Bulgaria.