Former Bulgarian cabinet ministers face criminal charges
Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev is being investigated in connection with leaked classified information, while a member of his cabinet is probed for criminal breach of trust and another has already been indicted on charges of abuse of power.
(Various sources — 08/09/09 – 09/11/09)
Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev. [Getty Images]
Prosecutors in Bulgaria have launched probes against several former ministers and heads of state agencies over their alleged involvement in corruption, embezzlement or other wrongdoings.
The highest-ranking among them is the leader of the main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev. On November 3rd, Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev asked parliament to lift Stanishev’s immunity, so that he can be investigated in connection with a missing classified report handed to him last year.
„Stanishev will be probed for losing documents and materials containing information which was state secret,“ as well as for having „due to carelessness, become the reason for the disclosure of information constituting state secret,“ Velchev’s office said in a statement.
The document in question was a memo prepared by the State National Security Agency (DANS) on the „actions of individual and circles exercising a destructive influence on the functioning of ministries and public administration structures“.
The scandal erupted last month when incumbent Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said that former DANS agent Alexey Petrov gave him the missing report. In line with the rules on handling classified information, Stanishev should have returned the document to a special department at the council of ministers, but failed to do so. It was unclear how Petrov, who served as advisor to former DANS head Petko Sertov, got hold of the memo.
Shortly after, the classified report was published on the Internet.
Claiming he had returned the report to the security agency, the former prime minister denied any wrongdoing, but said he would voluntarily give up his immunity from prosecution. According to Sofia city prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov, a person close to Stanishev, who acted as an intermediary, would also be investigated in connection with the case.
Borisov then told the media that the total number of top secret documents his predecessor had failed to handle in line with the established procedures was 11, among them one on contraband channels and another on Russia’s growing energy influence.
The move against Stanishev prompted harsh criticism from President Georgi Parvanov, who jumped in to defend his successor as BSP leader. He said the government would sue the former prime minister over „a misplaced file,“ while it did nothing to catch gangland bosses.
Stanishev met with city prosecutors in Sofia last month. [Getty Images]
„Why doesn’t the government act as swiftly in combating the bosses of organised crime, who have turned into one of the symbols of the Bulgarian transition,“ Parvanov said on November 9th. „I can’t shake off the feeling that the big mafia bosses are still untouchable.“
Borisov responded immediately. He reminded the president that there were 11 missing reports, not one, that shed light on the criminal circles impeding the functioning of the state and urged him not to interfere in the prosecution’s work.
„We follow the natural path of logic: we will catch the big sharks first and then we will go after the small fry,“ Sofia-based Standart daily quoted Borisov as saying. „Had we started with the bosses, we would have admitted that Bulgaria was run by the heads of organised crime and not by the [previous, BSP-led] three-way coalition. Isn’t that right?“
If Stanishev is found guilty, he could face a prison sentence of up to three years.
Nur wo es stinkt, waren Schröder, Joschka Fischer, Verheugen und die anderen Kriminellen aus Georg Soros Bande immer ganz Vorne weg. Man macht halt so seine Lobby Geschäfte und Null Aussenpolitik.