Tsvetan Tsvetanov, formerly deputy prime minister in the Boiko Borissov cabinet and the subject of allegations in connection with illegal eavesdropping, said after the first sitting of the new Parliament on May 21 that he was voluntarily giving up his immunity as an MP from prosecution.
This may add up to nothing more than a symbolic gesture, however, because procedurally the issue of lifting immunity is triggered only when the Prosecutor-General tables a formal request to Parliament.
The election campaign ahead of the May 12 national parliamentary elections in Bulgaria was dominated by allegations that Tsvetanov, when interior minister and deputy prime minister, had presided over illegal eavesdropping of a number of senior state and political leaders, including from Tsvetanov’s own party, as well as some business people.
Some weeks ago, prosecutors said that they had sufficient evidence to initiate the prosecution of Tsvetanov, but were not doing so because he had immunity from prosecution as a candidate MP.
Potential charges relate to allegations that he had knowingly allowed senior officials in the special department for eavesdropping not to perform their duties properly and to break the rules on the use of special surveillance equipment.
At the time, Tsvetanov said that he would give up the immunity he would have as an MP after the elections were over.
On May 21, he told journalists that he was making the move towards the lifting of his immunity of his own free will although prosecutors had not yet submitted a request. Tsvetanov, who denies wrongdoing, said that he was voluntarily giving up his immunity as a “moral act”.
“I am not saying that I expect to be arrested,” Tsvetanov said, denying previous media reports that he had said just that, “I just did what I think was my moral obligation to all those Bulgarian citizens who, in one form or another, have been misled by these speculations”.
The initial investigation into the alleged illegal wiretapping came after Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev presented prosecutors with documentation that he had received about the allegations.
In recent weeks, Tsvetanov was questioned by prosecutors twice, once in connection with the alleged illegal eavesdropping and once in connection with alleged election irregularities, in which regard too Tsvetanov denies any wrongdoing.