Bulgarian President to name parliamentary election date on February 28, and other stories

Bulgaria’s continuing political crisis continued to unfold on February 27, with episodes through the day ranging from formal ritual to the somewhat more bizarre. These are a few highlights:

• President Rossen Plevneliev said that he would announce the date of early elections during an address to Parliament on February 28. In recent days, Plevneliev has said that the date would be between the end of April and mid-May. A choice of May 12 is widely expected.

• The starting time of Plevneliev’s address to Parliament, 10am, will coincide with the starting time of a meeting of Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet, after the Cabinet meeting was postponed from February 27 by 24 hours because Borissov was still in hospital because of high blood pressure.

• Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev became the second of three political party leaders to formally reject a mandate from Plevneliev to form a government, after Borissov on February 25 and before the Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ Lyutvi Mestan on March 1. Stanishev said that the situation in the country called for early elections and promised an election platform of radical changes to make Bulgaria into a social and democratic state.

• Parliament voted to “finally” reject the Belene nuclear power station project. This was a sequel to the inconclusive outcome of the January 27 2013 national referendum on the future of nuclear power in Bulgaria. Most Russian media have reported, with Schadenfreude if debatable accuracy, that it was the Belene decision that led to the fall of the Borissov government.

• Ultra-nationalist leader Volen Siderov tried to attend a Cabinet meeting, claiming that members of Parliament were not barred from attending and saying that he wanted to prevent the despoliation of Bulgaria’s natural assets by the current government. His planned intervention was thwarted by the Cabinet meeting having been postponed.

• Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov made headlines not only by urging the Economy, Energy and Tourism Ministry to intervene to reduce electricity prices before a decision by the state energy regulatory commission, but also by explaining why he had resisted pressure from a nightly television talk show to appear to answer questions about the investigation into allegations by Borissov that MRF leader Ahmed Dogan had commissioned Borissov’s assassination. Meanwhile, three teams of prosecutors and National Revenue Agency inspectors were sent to the headquarters of Bulgaria’s three privately-owned electricity distribution companies on February 27, Tsatsarov told a news conference in Sofia.

• Regional Development and Public Works Minister Liliyana Pavlova signed a contract on the extension of Struma highway, saying that Borissov’s health had improved after he heard the news. Headline-writers came up with various versions along the lines of “Liliyana Pavlova heals Borissov with good news on Struma”.

• Georgi Purvanov, Bulgaria’s president from 2002 to 2012 and who sought unsuccessfully to regain the leadership of the socialist party after leaving office as head of state, said that he would not accept nomination to be a candidate in the national parliamentary elections, and thanked those he said had asked him.

• The “public council” to be convened by President Plevneliev to give citizens’ input to the political process, including to the caretaker government, will hold its first meeting on March 1 at 2pm. The meeting will be broadcast live on the internet. Plevneliev said that he did not want it to be just a talkshop.

• After a series of three incidents in the past week in which individuals set themselves on fire – in Veliko Turnovo, Varna and Radnevo, respectively, a man contacted reception at the Presidency on February 27 saying he intended to self-immolate. Firefighters and police arrived rapidly at the square in front of the Presidency and the man did not proceed with his threat.




The Sofia Globe staff

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