Access to Information Programme presented the annual Freedom of Information Awards to mark the 21st International Right to Know Day.


The ceremony was held in “Bar Singles” in the National Palace of Culture, with the participation of citizens, journalists, and representatives of civil society organizations and public institutions.


The 2023 awards are divided into six categories.



  • Category “Citizen who used the right to information most actively”


The “Golden Key” award went to


Nataliya Stancheva for her active use of the Access to Public Information Act (APIA). She submitted over 70 right to information requests to various institutions, the most of which were directed at “AEТs Kozloduy” EAD. With consistency and persistence, she managed to get the institutions to admit that unauthorized medical and diagnostic activities were being carried out in an unregistered medical facility at “AEТs Kozloduy” EAD in violation of the provisions of the Medical Institutions Act. As a result, “AEТs Kozloduy” EAD's Occupational Health Office, which operated as an illegal health center, was shut down with orders for mandatory registration.


Honorary diplomas went to


Nikolay Nedelchev for his active use of the APIA to seek information from traditionally non-transparent institutions, such as the Commission for Anti-Corruption and the Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Property (CAFIAP), the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassation, the Inspectorate to the Supreme Judicial Council, the Sofia-City Prosecutor’s Office and the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office.


Attorney Stefan Malinov for actively using his rights under the Access to Information Act in the public interest and for seeking information from the Ministry of Interior and its regional directorates, the Border Police Regional Directorate, the Military Police Service and the Ministry of Defense.


  • Category “NGO that used the right to information most actively”


The “Golden Key” award went to


Civil Association “BOETs” for their active use of the APIA on matters of great public importance, such as: distributed bonuses and remunerations, the names of the advisers to the Minister of Interior and the grounds for preventing public access to the building of the National Assembly. In 2023, “BOETs” led an important court battle against the state-owned company “Bulgargas” EAD regarding their refusal to provide information on gas-related negotiations and agreed gas supplies rates – a topic of extremely high and overriding public interest.


Honorary diplomas went to


The Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BiLI) for their consistent work to improve transparency in the selection and appointment of heads of regional directorates of the State Fund Agriculture, as well as regarding the qualifications of appointed heads.  Through their persistence in using the APIA procedures in their full scope, BiLI have helped develop case-law in favor of transparency in such appointments.


Data For Good Association for their support of civil society actors working to address important public interest issues. Data For Good provides knowledge and services related to data processing and analysis on important topics, such as the 2022 Parliamentary election and restrictions to the access to kindergartens.


  • Category “Best journalist campaign/article related to the right to information”


The “Golden Key” award went to


Desislava Nikolova, Capital newspaper, for a systematic and large-scale investigation, in which she used the procedures of the APIA to seek information from the largest hospitals in Bulgaria. The access to information requests sought public information on how the funds of the National Health Insurance Fund are spent. Some of the hospitals refused the information, and appeals against the refusals with the help of AIP have created important case-law, in which the court has ruled that data on the spending of public funds and on the management of public institutions, such as government hospitals, is public information.


Honorary diplomas went to


Anina Santova, Capital newspaper, for consistently and persistently seeking information and using the APIA procedures, including leading court cases, for journalistic investigations into equipment rental contracts and the costs of "external services" of “Sofekostroy”; the Sofia Municipality's payments for traffic lights; the charging system in public transport, street lighting, repairs to roads and pavements in the capital, the collection of fines, and others.


Anita Cholakova,, who sought information from the Regional Health Inspectorate – Vratsa for an inspection of the current medical facility on the territory of “AEТs Kozloduy” EAD. The received refusal was appealed and by a decision issued on the day of the hearing, Judge Ignat Kolchev, Smolyan, overturned the refusal and set a record in the application of the APIA, becoming the first judge to decide a dispute for access to information on the day of the hearing.


Krasen Nikolov, Mediapool, for using the APIA for journalistic investigations on topics of tangible and key public interest, such as the sabotage by Bulgarian institutions of EU-wide directives and sanctions and the exposure of corruption.


Category „Institution that has organized the provision of public information most efficiently“


The “Golden Key” award went to


The Municipality of Sliven for actively publishing information on the official website of the institution and for precise implementation of the obligations under the APIA when providing information. In 2022 and this year, the municipality has not issued a single refusal to provide information and has not been taken to court in respect of any decision on an access request.

 Honorary diplomas went to

The Ministry of Justice, which is one of the leaders among the executive authorities (ranked first for 2023 among ministries) in the Active Transparency Rating and has an improved its score compared to 2021 and 2022.



  • Category „Institution that does not fulfill its obligations under the APIA and violates citizens’ right to information


The “Padlock” anti-award went to

„Electricity System Operator“ EAD (ЕSО EAD) because of the permanent refusal to provide information on payments made to electricity producers in different periods of time. In the last two years ESO lost 3 cases for refusal to provide information on payments to electricity producers. Each time the court overturned the refusal and returned the case to the ESO for a new decision, they refused again with almost identical reasoning. After the third court ruling, ESO provided information for the period 1 January 2021 – 31 August 2021 to "Za Zemiata – Access to Justice", but when the association sought the same information for a more recent time period, ESO again refused access.


  • Category „Most absurd and/or funniest case for access to information“

The Prosecutor’s Office, which refused information regarding the status of the case against the gambling boss Vasil Bozhkov on the grounds that in order to provide the information requested by the applicant, the information must be related to public life in the Republic of Bulgaria and enable citizens to form an opinion on the activities of body obliged by law, in this case the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria as part of the state apparatus, and not in relation to its functions as a judicial authority. Apparently, the Public Prosecutor's Office does not consider its main function of leading investigations and issuing indictments to be part of public life in the country.


The full rationale for each of the 28 nominations received can be found on the dedicated Right to Know Day page: .


Interviews with the winners will be published in the AIP newsletter, as well as on the dedicated Right to Know Day page: You can also follow our Facebook page.








The campaign for the International Right to Know Day takes place within the framework of the project "Consultative Center for Access to Information and Transparency", supported by a grant from the America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Some of the nominations are by cases an lawsuits, under the project "Legal Assistance in Access to Information Cases" supported by the German Marshal Fund. 


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