The cutting edge of the Russian propaganda in America, Bulgarian Daniel Ivandzhiyski, was rarely used for hybrid operations in Bulgaria. In practice, his financial blog Zero Hedge is almost unknown at home. However, a few days ago Mr. Ivandzhiyski was activated in Bulgaria by Boyan Chukov, a former communist foreign intelligence officer. Apparently, Russian centers for information war against Bulgaria have been experiencing difficulties and were forced to finally release Zero Hedge for domestic consumption. Mr. Chukov’s position is particularly important to the Kremlin, as is evident from the title of an article published in the openly pro-Russian website Pogled (Overview): “Berlin and Sofia together against the “hawks “.
Russia was particularly unnerved by the possibility of joint actions by NATO countries and Ukraine in the Black Sea. Prime Minister Borissov put on a real show about the idea of a Black Sea fleet, forcing into an awkward position not only himself but both the Romanian and Bulgarian president too, as well as two of his own cabinet ministers.
This show had to take place before the NATO summit in Warsaw, which will be held on 8-9th July of this year, so Russia exercised pressure on the Bulgarian Prime Minister and he obligingly caved in. Still, Russian propaganda needed some western backing so that it did not look as Borissov’s sole initiative. Hence the former intelligence officer Boyan Chukov started extensive use of Ivandzhiyski’s analyses and his interpretations of the German position, quoting Zero Hedge on German Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s words:
“Suddenly, everything disintegrated rapidly when Steinmeier…criticized NATO for having a bellicose policy towards Russia, describing it as “warmongering”, the German daily Bild reported. And just like that, the entire fictional narrative of “innocent” NATO merely reacting to evil Russian provocations has gone up in flames… Steinmeier declared: “What we should avoid today is inflaming the situation by warmongering and stomping boots… Anyone who thinks you can increase security in the alliance with symbolic parades of tanks near the eastern borders, is mistaken.”
Using Zero Hedge in the Russian propaganda war against Bulgaria is something completely new. This site is intended primarily for Western consumption but Russia’s depleted local disinformation resources necessitated that Ivandzhiyski was also put into use. The case with George Gotev and EurActiv is quite similar. Russian propaganda employed this Bulgarian with the task of channeling Russian disinformation mainly in the west, in the heart of the European Union – Brussels. Once again, due to lack of other resources, the former State Security recruited journalist* was compromised and thrust into an entirely Bulgarian battle against our politicians. Amongst those who fell prey were the Bulgarian Euro Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, the former Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov and the current ambassador of Bulgaria to the UN Stefan Tafrov.
Daniel (Dan) Ivandzhiyski is an undoubtedly capable financial analyst and is doing well as owner and author of Zero Hedge under the collective pseudonym Tyler Durden. The site is registered in Bulgaria at the same address as the site Strogo Sekretno (Top Secret), owned by Dan’s father, Krassimir Ivandzhiyski **. The Bulgarian and US sites are similar in their bombastic headlines and conspiracy articles. Here is an example: “The Third World War, the key is on “Fire”- NATO is planning an attack in August”. Under this heading Ivandzhiyski Sr published his latest article in Top Secret. It focuses on the coming NATO summit in July in Warsaw. The article suggests that this meeting will decide on the start of a new war. Ivandzhiyski Jr is more cautious, but often alongside his financial analyses other articles in the style of his father pop up: “The Coming War Will Solve Our Unemployment & Growth Problem.”
Until last month one could only assume that Tyler Durden was a collective pseudonym. However, one of the authors on this site that instills pessimism in the US financial system, Colin Lokey, decided to reveal the truth. It turned out that three people, including Dan Ivandzhiyski, were using the name of the character from the book and movie Fight Club. A few weeks ago in a big interview with Bloomberg, Colin Lokey said: “I can’t be a 24-hour cheerleader for Hezbollah, Moscow, Tehran, Beijing, and Trump anymore. It’s wrong. Period.” The omerta-breaking analyst tells in detail about the political pressure to present the world as follows: “Russia=good. Obama=idiot. Bashar al-Assad=benevolent leader. John Kerry= dunce. Vladimir Putin=greatest leader in the history of statecraft”.
It became clear that Dan Ivandzhiyski does serve Russian interests as suspected and his pessimistic analyses of the US financial system are not only the result of his personal hatred and vindictiveness. (Before starting the site Zero Hedge, Dan Ivandzhiyski himself worked at a hedge fund until a formal investigation for inside information trading was started against him and he was banned from the stock exchange.)
Colin Lokey’s revelations provide some of the answers to the questions as to who actually is Mr. Ivandzhiyski and what goals are pursued by the Zero Hedge website. For many years the American finance professor Craig Pirrong*** has written in his blog Streetwise Professor about Ivandzhiyski‘s propaganda in service to Moscow. Moreover, Professor Pirrong believes Ivandzhiyski even surpasses the Russian propaganda machine – the TV Russia Today – in his “shameless” support for Putin. Prof. Pirrong argues that Ivandzhiyski does not stop at anything from “amusing” claims that the Crimea and the Falkland Islands are similar cases to the utter nonsense that Chevron**** is still part of Rockefeller’s empire. “Yeah”, says the professor, but “Back in 1910”.
In one of his articles about Ivandzhiyski, Craig Pirrong notes, “I’ve thought for years that Zero Hedge is a Kremlin influence operation. It is doing nothing now to disabuse me of that notion. To the contrary. It is cementing it.”
The light cast on the Bulgarian last month by Colin Lokey may have persuaded Boyan Chukov not to worry anymore and openly use the Zero Hedge website for propaganda purposes on local, Bulgarian turf too.
* George Gotev is the son of the late journalist and intelligence officer Goran Gotev who has worked predominantly abroad as correspondent for BTA and Duma Newspaper, for more than 25 years. According to the Committee for Disclosing the Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens with the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian National Army, he was fully employed by State Security First Chief Directorate, appointed as head of unit in 1967 and as Deputy Head of department in 1973.
** Krasimir Ivandzhiyski has, since 1994, been the publisher and Chief Editor of the newspaper Strogo Sekretno (Top Secret). Before the changes he was a longtime contributor to the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party Rabotnichesko delo (Workers deed). In 1978 he became the desk officer of the newspaper for Central Europe (Prague, Vienna, and Warsaw) and in 1985 for Africa (Ethiopia and Zimbabwe). He presents himself as the first geo-strategist in Eastern Europe – something sneered at by political scientists and journalists.
*** Craig Pirrong is Professor of Finance at the University of Houston and Director at the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business at the same university.
**** Ivandzhiyski’s disinformation about Chevron was produced at the time when the company was searching for shale gas reserves in Eastern Europe. The Bulgarian Parliament put a full ban on drilling for shale deposits in the country.