The information seekers usually use the Access to Public Information Act in pursuit of a specific purpose – journalistic investigation, participation in public debate; protection of private interest. In this section you may find cases showing the results achieved by effective exercise of the right to information by different interested groups.

Success stories
On September 28, 2019 FOI activists from Sofia and the country - among whom were partner NGOs, journalists, academia, officials from executive bodies and municipalities - gathered in Sofia to celebrate the 17th Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony. Here are the winners:
  • Mr. Svetlozar Alexiev was awarded due to his exceptional consistency and persistency in the use of the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), including litigation against refusals, which has helped to increase the transparency of the Sofia Municipality on a number of issues of high public interest such as the organization of urban traffic, the control of commercial sites and of renovation in key urban areas in Sofia city.
  • Mr. Svilen Dimitrov and informal group “Protest Silistra” are also very consistent and persistent in the use of the APIA, exercising the right to information - including its defense in the court - to receive reports on the spending of BGN 670,000 for landscaping by the Municipality of the town of Silistra. The obtained over 200 pages of documents are distributed on Facebook and social networks.
  • The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee accessed, through the use of APIA, data on domestic and gender-based violence. The data collected was then disclosed in the BHC's annual reports, covered by the media and used to support proposals for legislative amendments to criminalize domestic violence.
  • Mr. Iliya Valkov, journalist from Club Z, actively sought and received information on the contracted amounts for media services under European programs since Bulgaria's accession to the EU in 2007. In his investigations, he also disclosed how much taxpayers would have to pay if the so-called amendments for amnesty of accumulated taxes of different denominations in Bulgaria had been adopted.
  • Alexandra Markaryan from revealed wrongful practices of over-admission of students at the Sofia Mathematics High School. This led to regulatory changes for stricter requirements and safeguards in terms of such admissions to elite schools.
  • Lachezar Lisitsov, journalist from, was awarded for his consistent and effective use of APIA, including litigation, to obtain information from the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the National Assembly.
  • The National Audit Office of the Republic of Bulgaria was recognized with the “Golden Key” Award for the performance audit on the “Transparency and Publicity in the Activity of the State Administration and Access to Public Information for the period 1 January 2016 - 30 June 2018” in 17 ministries, the Council of Ministers and the State e-Government Agency, with specific recommendations and timelines for fulfilment for more transparency and publicity and access to information.
  • The Regional Administration of Blagoevgrad was awarded for its high level of active transparency that the institution has maintained for years and the effective implementation of the APIA obligations. 

The 2018 Right to Know Day Awards winners represent examples of persistent, consistent and resultful exercise of the right to information by citizens, NGOs, and journalists:
  • Attorney-at-law Maria Sharkova from Sofia has used the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) in her research and analysis on the court cases related to medical malpractice and the efficiency of the control bodies in the healthcare sphere. She published the book The Medical Delict and launched the web site Лекарска-грешка.bg (Medical Negligence);
  • Ms. Elena Hristova from Sofia has used the APIA to obtain information about the registered irregularities within respective government bodies with regard to the implementation of different EU funded programs;
  • The Association of Parks in Bulgaria has used the APIA to obtain information necessary for analysis of environmental protection policies – specifically, the extent of water usage for the production of artificial snow for the ski slopes in the resort of Bansko; for formulation and submission of proposals for the improvement of those policies, and for revealing wrongdoings in the process of public service appointments within the structures of the national forests management;
  • The Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives has used the APIA to collect information from 19 public bodies regarding the reports for wrongdoings and corruption and the undertaken measures. The analyzed data are published in the report “Why Shall We Report”:
  • Journalist Emilia Dimitrova-Dankova from the regional online media revealed wrongdoings in the official trips abroad of the municipal officials from the Municipality of Sevlievo;
  • Journalist Valia Ahchieva from the Bulgarian National TV has revealed the forceful retirement of a public official who had disclosed information at the APIA request of the journalist.

In 2017, the Access to Information Programme supported 5 journalistic investigations by journalists from regional and local media. Topics encompassed:
  • alleged corruption at the rehabilitation and renovation of housing buildings for higher energy efficiency in the city of Blagoevgrad (by Marieta Dimitrova from Blagoevgrad News);
  • alleged illegal cutting of trees in the forests around Pazardzhik and the inefficiency of the control bodies (by Todor Grozdev from Zname newspaper – Pazardzik);
  • discrepancy in the funding and efficiency of the local community centers (chitalishta) by Ivanka Vateva from Posredniknews – Pleven;
  • wrongdoings in the distribution of municipal funds to sports clubs in the Municipality of Vidin (by Kalin Ivanov from Vidin Vest);
  • the 18 years’ delay in the implementation of the Gorna Arda Hydro Power Plant Project (by Bozhidara Angelova from Nov Zhivot newspaper – Kardzhali).

Investigations are published in the AIP specialized web site Access to Information and Journalistic Investigations (in Bulgarian):  

In 2016, the Access to Information Programme supported 9 journalistic investigations by journalists from national media. Topics encompassed:
  • Effect of the EU funded projects aiming to assist the judicial system reform after Bulgaria’s accession to the EU in 2007 at an estimated amount of nearly 60 million BGN by journalist Dorotheya Dachkova from the Sega daily;
  • The expenses made by 10 Bulgarian municipalities for provision of media services at the amount of 2.7 million BGN for the period 2013 - 2015 by journalist Spas Spassov,  a correspondent of and Capital weekly for the region of Varna;
  • Illegal currency trading investigated by the former State Security by journalist  Yovo Nikolov from Capital weekly;
  • The inefficiency of the Commission on Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Assets evidenced by the relationship between the costs for its work and the calculated amount of confiscated illegal assets that go back to the state budget by journalist Krassen Nikolov from;
  • The inefficiency of the information and media campaign run by the Central Election Commission before the local government elections and the national referendum held in October 2015 at the amount of nearly 1.5 million BGN by journalist Polina Paunova from the ;
  • Criminals with final verdicts from the Sofia City Regional Court, Plovdiv Regional Court, Burgas Regional Court and Varna Regional Court who have escaped prison and are hiding from law enforcement bodies in Bulgaria or abroad by journalist Blaga Georgieva – Baycheva from 24 Hours;
  • The huge increase of the costs for medicines covered by the National Health Insurance Fund amounting to 900 million BGN in 2015, revealing the relations and dependencies established between medical doctors,  pharmaceutical companies, and patients’ organizations by journalist Martina Bozukova from Mediapool;
  • Decreasing investment proposals and changing the business model for construction of holiday complexes at the Southern Black Sea coast by journalist Dessislava Leshtarska from Capital weekly;
  • The lack of transparency and the conflict of interests behind the process of approving and printing school textbooks whose cost to the state budget for 2015 was c. 40 million by journalist Evelina Gecheva from the online Academica. A day after the publication of the journalistic investigation, the Minister of Education and Science Meglena Kuneva issued an Order forbidding the participation of ministerial officials and officials from the Regional Education Inspectorates in the process of drafting textbooks, and educational materials.

The 2015 Right to Know Day Awards winners represent examples of persistent, consistent and resultful exercise of the right to information by citizens, NGOs, and journalists:
  • The citizen Milen Chavrov exercises the right of access to information to raise awareness on the AIDS in Bulgaria and for the protection of the right of HIV positive people, as well as advocacy for better health policies in this area.

  • Due to Krasimir Russev's active and persistent use of the Access to Public Information Act, including litigation, the Municipality of Targovishte has disclosed contracts for selling municipal properties.

  • The non-formal Civil Initiative “Let’s Save Kara Dere” have exercised their right to know to obtain information about alleged illegal construction at the seaside region of Kara Dere. The informal group has used the APIA and public registers to cast light on the investment plan for construction in the region, as well as for finding and exposing legal violations related to the construction permit.
  • The Association “Friends of the Railway Transport” managed to obtain significant information related to the railway services in Bulgaria after a two year's court battle with the Ministry of Transport, InformationTechnologies and Communications and the “Railway Administration” Executive Agency.

  • As a result of the Center for Protection of the Rights in the Healthcare active campaign, including litigation, legal amendments were initiated and the National Health Insurance Fund started to publish on their web site information about funds paid to the hospitals.

Within January to April 2015, nine journalists from national and regional media who have won the First AIP Competition for Journalistic Investigations finished their work. They prepared and published articles, series of articles, and a book in national and regional media, blogs, social media. All articles are available on AIP specialized web site Access to Information and Journalistic Investigations in section Investigations in Bulgarian: The publications were based on information obtained using the APIA and public registers with the core help of the AIP legal team. The significance of the investigations was proven by dozens of reprints and thousands of readers.
The investigations encompassed the following topics of high public interest:
  • the inefficiency of an European Union funded program at the amount of 100 million BGN (c. 50 million Euro) for vocational training and increase of qualification of unemployed/ employed managed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy - a topic investigated by journalist Stela Kovacheva who is a correspondent of Standart daily for the regions of Razgrad and Silistra;

  • the financial deficit in the funding of hospitals compared to the permanent increase in the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund - a topic investigated by journalist Krum Blagov - printing house Reporter;

  • how the process of granting security clearances by the State Agency for National Security could be used as a tool for political and economic influence - a topic investigated by journalist Krassen Nikolov from the;

  • the suspicious conditions for renting two ferryboats of a state-owned company serving a Bulgaria – Ukraine line - a topic investigated by journalist Spas Spassov who is a correspondent of and Capital weekly for the region of Varna;

  • the sale of state-owned plots of land at the Bulgarian seaside at prices much lower than the market values causing financial damages of up to 50 million BGN (c. 25 million Euro) - a topic investigated by journalist Lili Granitska from the;

  • the lack of transparency in the registration of field experts for court cases resulting in obstacles and delays in the proper administration of justice - a topic investigated by journalist Dorotheya Dachkova from Sega daily;

  • political and economic relations behind the unexpected bankruptcy of the 4th largest in the country Corporate Commercial Bank and the double standard of the responsible authorities - a topic investigated by Edvin Sugarev, a freelance journalist;

  • the involvement of the communist  State Security Services in trafficking of cultural and historical items during the period of 1972-1989 - a topic investigated by journalist Hristo Hristov - founder and editor of the web portal State Security Services (;

  • the lack of transparency and clear rules which fuel shadow businesses in the electricity market - a topic investigated by journalist Vladislava Peeva from the

In 2014, a number of access to information cases resulted in information disclosure, journalistic investigations with high public effect, and efficient NGO campaigns:
  • The construction of a chlorine plant in Gorna Oryahovitsa was suspended after the investigation of the journalist Zdravka Maslyankova form the regional Veliko Tarnovo newspaper “Yantra Dnes.” More information about the case, at the web site Access to Information and Investigative Journalism.
  • The Ministry of Economics and Energy published on their web site a large number of documents related to the planning, negotiations, and implementation of the South Stream project after a court case started by the civil association “National Union Edinstvo”. The latter was recognized at the 2014 Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony.

  • The issue on the safety of level crossings was raised after the investigation of the journalist Tzvetan Todorov from the regional Lovech newspaper “People's Voice.” More information about the case, at the web site Access to Information and Investigative Journalism.

  • The Ministry of Interior provided information to the journalist Yulian Hristov about an issued gun permit to the leader of the nationalistic party “Ataka” Mr. Volen Siderov. The case is available on the web site Access to Information and Investigative Journalism.

  • The Ministry of Interior disclosed data about the expenses made by the Ministry of Interior for guarding the street protests within the period June 2013 – July 2014 as a result of requests filed by the journalism student Boris Rangelov. He was recognzied at the 2014 Right to Know Day Awards Ceremony.

In 2012, there is a significant number of cases where access to information has been provided after a court had repealed the administration’s refusal:
  • The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works provided to Yuriy Ivanov (Association “Public barometer” - Sliven) a report on an inspection undertaken by the Ministry Inspectorate on the activities of “ViK” – Sliven (the water and sewage supplier) for the period 2005 – 2010, in relation to a signal on irregularities in the conduct of the public procurement procedure on the water meters supply.
  • The National Center for Information and Documentation provided to the “168 hours” newspaper access to the information on recognizing the foreign university degree of the former executive director of the State Fund “Agriculture” Kalina Ilieva.
  • The National Social Security Institute provided to Ivan Djabirov access to the information on sums paid to employees of the institute as supplementary remuneration (bonuses). More information: Two ATI cases about Public Officials’ Remunerations and Bonuses
  • The Sofia Municipality provided to Mila Trifonova access to the information related with a project for the realization of green spaces in Sofia’s Vazrazhdane park.
  • The Smolyan Municipality provided to Zarko Marinov (“Otzvuk” newspaper) information on the prices of two municipal contracts on domestic waste management:
  • The Ministry of Physical Education and Sports provided to the Balkani Wildlife Society information on all its contracts concluded with the Bulgarian Ski Federation for the period 2007 – 2011. The information was originally requested under the form of an abstract (number and date of conclusion, price and subject of the contracts) but after the refusal’s repeal the ministry provided copies of the contracts.
  • The Ministry of Justice provided to the “Klassa” (“Class”) newspaper information on the names and positions of the committee members who had approved the nonprofit legal entities (NGOs) to be subsidized from the 2010 state budget.

The journalist Genka Shikerova from one of the two biggest corporate TV stations in Bulgaria (BTV) was granted access to 150 pages of a contract between the Siemens EOOD and the Ministry of Interior and other related documents. With the assistance of AIP she was given access to the contract on the producing of the new ID documents for Bulgarian citizens and later obtained copies of all the documents.
The contract provoked huge media interest due to the delay of issuing ID documents, leading to long queues and citizen’s discontent.

Often the simple filing of complaint against a refusal is enough motivation for the institution to reconsider its decision and grant access, previously denied. This is the case of the citizen Ivan Petrov who requested the text of a broadcast on the national radio of the Commission against Discrimination. The broadcast aimed the promotion of the Commission’s activities. The citizen sought access to the contract between the National Radio and the Commission, he was particularly interested in the date of signing the contract and its duration. The director of the National Radio, to whom the request was addressed did not reply within the 14 days time limit set forth by the APIA. With the AIP help the requestor filed a complaint against the silent refusal. After the filing of the complaint the director granted access to the information.
The State Agency for Youth and Sport, now Ministry of Physical Education and Sports, published requested information on their web site after the decision of the Administrative Court Sofia City (ACSC) court. The ACSC repealed the silent refusal of the ministry to provide information regarding the legal entities, including sport federation which have been financed by the State Agency for Youth and Sport for the period January 1,2007 – January 1, 2009. The litigation was brought by “WWF-World Wildlife Fund, Danube-Carpathian Programme, Bulgaria”.

The chairperson of the Municipal council of Lovech executed a judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court compelling him to provide access to information related to the amount paid by the Municipal Council to national and local media for publication of regulations and announcements. With a letter as of May 12, 2009 the chairperson provided the information to the requestor – Tsvetan Todorov, editor in Chief of the newspaper “Naroden glas”.

Citizen William Popov obtained access to information related to the civil demonstrations held before the building of the National Assembly in Sofia in the beginning of 2009. During the protest the participants were thoroughly inspected and admitted to the place of protest itself after recording their personal data. This provoked an interesting public debate. The following days the citizen Wilyam Popov filed an access to information request to the Ministry of Interior (MoI). He sought several categories of information related to the MoI’s actions during the demonstrations, namely: number of policemen and gendarmes, who supervised the protest actions, what the actual cost of security measures was, whether special police divisions took part etc. Particular interest for the citizen was the cost for estimating the risk of public turmoil. The requestor’s desire to obtain this specific information was provoked by the live TV broadcasts of the events. The demonstrations were very peaceful and the police forces were much more numerous than the demonstrators. The explanation of the Chief Commissioner of the MoI was that the security was organized on the basis of expert assessment and analysis of the risk of public turmoil. The citizen was granted partial access. It came out that because of the erroneous estimates of the risk, the MoI has spent unnecessary and unreasonable resources for the security of the demonstrations.

In January 2007, the Minister of Defense provided the information requested by an editor of a Bulgarian magazine, regarding burried tanks near small villages in Bulgaria (Goliamo Sharkovo, Lesovo and Ruzhica dam). In November 2006, the Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army denied access to the same information, requested by the same person. The motivation of the refusal is that the information was classified. Later on, the information was requested this time from the Minister of Defense. He did not reply within the time-limits set forth by the APIA. With the AIP help the silent refusal was challenged before the court. In the end, the minister answered that the tanks are still part of the military equipment. The funny thing is that according to eyewitness, the tanks were abandoned near the villages since World War II.  

Since several years now „Illegal construction” is a very hot topic in Bulgaria, therefore citizens seek access to official documents related to construction works through APIA very actively. The aim is to reveal wrongdoings and corruption within the competent supervisory authority – the Directorate for National Construction Supervision (DNCS) or infringement of property law established by this authority. This is the case of a citizen, owner of property in Sofia which has been expropriated without the owner being compensated. The owner pursued lengthy litigation to secure his property rights. Meanwhile, on the terrain a gas station and a supermarket were built. The proprietor sought the AIP legal help to get access to documents related to these works hold by the DNCS, which refused to grant access. The refusal was challenged before the court and it ruled in favour of the citizen – the authority was compelled to provide the information sought.

Genka Shikerova, journalist from one of the main TV channels – bTV had the courage to stand up her right to information in order to reveal wrongdoings and illegal construction works in Nessebar, an UNESCO world heritage site. She requested documents of the mayor allowing real estates and construction rights to indigents. With the AIP help the journalist filed a number of requests, went trough long legal battles before two instances in order to get access. As a result, she discovered that among the favoured “indigents” were public officials and local magistrates. She produced a documentary on the case and it won several prestigious awards for best documentary. For her work and perseverance on September 28, 2006 Genka Shikerova was awarded with Golden Key on the International Right to Know Day.

In another case, a client filed an access to information request for number of audit reports from the The Public Financial Inspection Agency  (PFIA). The reports related to inspections in recreation facilities and centres of the Council of Ministers for the period 1998-2002. The PFIA provided access within the 14 days time-limit setforth by the APIA.

An NGO filed a request to the Ministry of Culture for information related to revenues and expenditures of second-level spenders of budgetary appropriations. At first place the minister refused access by motivating his decision with the official secret exemption. After submitting a complaint against the refusal the minister reconsidered his decision and granted access to the information.

A citizen addressed the AIP team with an interesting and curious case. Proceedings under the Combating of Anti-Social Acts of Juveniles and Minors Act were initiated against his juvenile son. In his capacity of  legal representative and parent, the father requested the file from the Sofia District Prosecution. Obviously, the father needed this information for the proper education of the child and for the protection of his rights. Access to the file was denied by the deputy district prosecutor on the grounds of protection of personal data of the child. With the AIP legal help the refusal was challenged before the Commission for Personal Data Protection, whose decision is in favour of the parent. The Prosecutor’s office was obliged to provide the information.

Under the APIA a citizen sought information from the Parliamentary Information Office of the 39th National Assembly. He was interested what the salary of the MP Ahmed Dogan was. He also requested the verbatim records of all plenary sittings of the 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th National Assemblies. The requestor was given access to the records and he consulted them in the Parliament premises.