Four days after Yuliana Ivanova was appointed as the new head of Bulgaria’s State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, she resigned at the request of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov after it emerged that she had owned a company that had illegally sold cigarettes online.
Ivanova’s appointment was announced at a Cabinet meeting on February 13 2013. A day later, media reports said that she had owned a company selling cigarettes over the internet in violation of Bulgarian law.
Ivanova said on February 14 that her lawyers had not informed her that the online cigarette trade, on a website that she had founded to sell foodstuffs, was illegal. However, she said that she was prepared to accept ultimate responsibility and said that she would apologise to Borissov.
In a terse 51-word statement issued by the government media service on February 17, it was announced that Borissov had today requested Ivanova’s resignation. The request was in the context that Ivanova, in preliminary talks about being appointed head of the commission, had failed to inform Borissov about having participated in a company that had been involved in illegal business.
Ivanova’s appointment was two weeks after Borissov fired the previous head of the commission, Angel Semerdzhiev, for failing to act to bring Bulgaria in line with requirements towards energy market liberalisation. Semedrzhiev had occupied the post since September 2009.
The upheavals at the commission come amid national controversy and widespread protests in Bulgaria about high electricity bills and the structure of Bulgaria’s energy market and pricing system.
On February 15, Borissov urged Parliament to take over responsibility for electing the chairperson of the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission. He said that the commission head should be chosen by a two-third majority, “because it is very important that he should be trusted by the people and by all political parties”.