Bulgaria does not yet have a long-term strategic vision, nor a clear political commitment of the main political actors to tackle the operations of foreign influence and disinformation spread through traditional and social media. The problem is exacerbated by the involvement of informal networks of politicians, including in the executive, parties, opinion leaders, private sector representatives and oligarchic circles, in disseminating and amplifying these operations.
At a press conference on 23 February 2023, the Center of the Study of Democracy presented an analysis assessing the main critical governance deficits that facilitate media capture in the country, which include ineffective law enforcement regarding transparency of media ownership and funding, partial enforcement and implicit regulatory resistance to EU sanctions on Kremlin-backed media, an uncoordinated approach of state institutions, characterised by episodic activities related to countering disinformation and capacity building in this area, and a lack of a serious and responsible policy debate on countering disinformation.
The necessary next steps towards building a national framework for resilience, based upon coordinated and synergistic governance mechanisms that can address the ever-changing risks associated with disinformation, should take a twofold approach. On the one side, the focus must be on building an "offline" infrastructure of institutions, regulations, financial instruments and educational programmes, and on the other, on increased and coordinated development of digital infrastructure of online systems and solutions that enable digital identity verification, data sharing, identification and verification of misinformation, and monitoring and detection of inauthentic online behaviour. Further development of the institutional capacity for strategic communication of all public administrations, with a focus on key ministries and state agencies, is also indispensable in any efforts to tackle the spread of disinformation.
Full video available at the BTA web-site.