The Bulgarian Parliament’s special committee investigating high-level corruption in recent years intends questioning former prime minister and opposition socialist leader Sergei Stanishev and three of his cabinet ministers about land swaps, a probe that is a sequel to the recent controversy in Nessebur about a thwarted residential building development on protected sand dunes.
The committee is investigating government land swaps since 2003.
Stanishev was prime minister from the autumn of 2005 to early July 2009, heading a tripartite coalition government. Also to be questioned at the hearing in Parliament on January 18 2013 are former ministers Ivailo Kalfin, Valeri Tsvetanov and Dzhevdet Chakurov.
On January 23, current Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova and Regional Development and Public Works Minister Lilyana Pavlova will be heard.
Reacting to the decision to summon the former government ministers, socialist MP Maya Manolova said, “why should Stanishev come? Does he have to explain about the signatures of Svetlana Boyanova and Miroslav Naidenov?”
Manolova was referring to documents approved by the current minister and deputy minister of agriculture. The socialists have been calling for Naidenov to step down over the Nessebur affair, to which he has responded that the process and initial approvals for the town planning were given in 2007, two years before the current centre-right government came to power and while the socialists themselves were in office.
Manolova said that the committee on high-level corruption should be renamed the committee for covering up the actions of the government.
The socialists have opposed the existence of the committee investigating high-level corruption since the idea of establishing it was proposed by Yane Yanev, a minority party leader who now heads the multi-party body.
The committee was voted into existence by Parliament in September 2012, and was given a lifespan of six months.
With national parliamentary elections to be held sometime around mid-2013, the socialists have decried the committee investigating corruption as a partisan move against them and earlier petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule that the committee was unconstitutional.
Yanev said that he would instruct officials to study all 93 cases of land swaps which are under finalisation and which had been initiated in 2008.
Naidenov told journalists that an interdepartmental investigation had found inconsistencies in documentation related to the Nessebur case, including a failure to mention that the land intended for use for residential development included sand dunes in a nature conservation area.
He has asked the Prosecutor-General to investigate all acts regarding change of use and sale of state-owned land in forest areas since 2003.
(Photo: Party of European Socialists)