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Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-02-27 10:02:21
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Bulgaria without Censorship is the key to parliament’s dissolving

bulgaria_400There is already serious fuss around the newly established Bulgaria without Censorship party of former journalist Nikolay Barekov. The news that two independent MPs will now represent Bulgaria without Censorship party at the parliament and will even file two draft bills on behalf of the party is much discussed by the politicians over the past couple of days, as the commentaries continued on Wednesday. “When one has money, one does not need to take part in elections but simply buy already elected members of the parliament and thus form a parliamentary group,” said Boyko Borisov, leader of the oppositional Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB) and former prime minister of Bulgaria, speaking with journalists at parliament. “What I cannot understand, however, is why [leader of Bulgarian socialists Sergey] Stanishev is so happy with this new group,” Borisov added. He commented further that it might turn out that Bulgaria without Censorship in fact backed the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and helped them stay in power by securing the parliamentary quorum through the independent MPs.

“I think that it is highly important to see what will happen in the next days. We will be able to see how a party is positioned in the [political] area and whether this party will turn into a crutch of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF),” said Boyko Borisov. “The BSP lost one MP, while the CEDB – two. Bearing in mind that the BSP is the ruling party, it is harder for it. While the CEDB was in power, none of our MPs left the parliamentary group,” Borisov remarked. Asked whether he expected for more MPs to leave the parliamentary group of the CEDB, Borisov said: “The more, the better. If there are people, who are dependent on other interests, they should better leave – this is great for the party.” “I am interested in seeing how the Bulgaria without Censorship party will act. With three members of the parliament, it may even oust the Bulgarian government,” the former prime minister added.

“If they do not oust the government then it will mean that they are the crutch of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), speaking only against the CEDB, and in fact by announcing that their party is centre-right positioned, they back the BSP and the MRF,” Borisov remarked. Later on during the day Nikolay Barekov sent an official statement to the media. “As of yesterday the disgraceful deals of the four parties in the Bulgarian parliament speared on the surface,” Nikolay Barekov says in the statement. “With our independent MPs, the key to the dissolution of the 42nd National Assembly is now in Bulgaria without Censorship’s hands,” Barekov remarked. “Until yesterday, the ruling and the opposition were dependent on one xenophobic party – Ataka. As of today, you are dependent only on us and on the Bulgarian nation,” the new political leader said further. “The major deficit found in this parliament is in terms of morals, as well as of clarity about who is part of the mafia and who represents the interests of the Bulgarian citizens,” writes Nikolay Barekov. “I offer you our votes and our intellectual capacity so as to be able to adopt our draft bill for the Clean Hands Operation over the next couple of months,” Barekov’s official position reads further. “The three parties of the status quo – the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), together with [Prime Minister] Plamen Oresharski, are given a chance to enter history as the one that supported our idea of purge of the politicians and making it clear who are good and who are bad,” Barekov comments further.


Bulgaria's police officers get 10% pay raise

Bulgaria's government has approved a 10% police officers pay raise, Wednesday. The raise will be backdated and will come into effect as of January 1. The salary raise was subject to administration cuts undertaken by Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev in the autumn of 2013. Then Yovchev promised 5% salary raises for Interior Ministry officers through layoffs of employees who were not directly involved in the Office's main activities.

In January, Bulgaria's Finance Minister Petar Chobanov claimed that there would be a pay raise for IM employees, adding that it would likely be over 5%. In another resolution, the cabinet dismissed Montana's regional counselor Anatoly Mladenov. Mladenov is a member of the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) movement of the former President Georgi Parvanov. He will be replaced by Nikolay Penchev, who so far has been employed by the Interior Ministry.


Bulgaria's notorious SAPARD fraud case misfires again

The notorious case for the embezzlement of EUR 7.5 M under the EU's SAPARD program has misfired for a second time at Bulgaria's Specialized Criminal Court. On January 23, the trial was blocked by flawed summoning of the main defendant, businessman Mario Nikolov, and his lawyer, Menko Menkov. During Wednesday's sitting of the Specialized Criminal Court, it turned out that two other defendants, Anna Hadzhiivanova and Lazarina Georgieva, had not received their copies of the indictment, according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA). The two were handed the documents in the court room on Wednesday, in breach of the legal requirement that the defendants be provided seven days to acquaint themselves with the charges they face. The case, which has been closely monitored by the European Commission and the EU anti-fraud office OLAF, has been rescheduled for March 10.

At the start of the investigation, in 2007, the prosecuting authority divided the case in two – one for document fraud which resulted in embezzling BGN 7.5 M under the EU's Sapard (Special accession programme for agriculture and rural development), and the other one for money laundering. The step has been interpreted as a crucial mistake which caused both trials to collapse. The court of first instance, the Sofia City Court, declared Nikolov guilty, while his accomplice, Lyudmil Stoykov was acquitted. The Sofia Appellate Court subsequently revoked Nikolov's sentence and confirmed the acquittal.

In November 2013, acting Chief Prosecutor Boyko Naydenov announced that Stoycho Nenkov, prosecutor at the Sofia Appellate Prosecutor's Office, had revoked the protest of the acquittal of Nikolov and Stoykov under the money laundering case, thereby making their acquittal final. Naydenov subsequently asked the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) to relaunch the money laundering case and to merge it with the embezzlement proceedings.


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