Interior Minister Yovchev to get dual role as deputy PM

Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev is to get a dual role as deputy prime minister, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said on June 14, reversing the statement at the time the Cabinet was named that the interior portfolio would not again be combined with that of deputy head of government.

Oresharski said that he would be proposing changes to the structure and assignment of oversight functions in the Cabinet, also a reverse of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government position that restructuring of the executive would wait several months because there was urgent work to be done.

At the time the Cabinet was named, only one deputy prime minister was appointed, in a portfolio combined with justice and oversight of the use of EU funds, although at the time the intention was to have a second, overseeing the economic portfolio ministries.

This latter appointment has not been made but whenever it happens, it would mean a total of three prime ministers.

Under the GERB government headed by Boiko Borissov from 2008 to March 2013, there were two deputy prime ministers, one the interior minister and the other the finance minister.

Oresharski said that “unfortunately, in recent years, the Interior Ministry has been highly partisan. The ministry should be a pillar of the state, a defender of the interests of Bulgarian citizens, not in the service of one or another party”.

Yovchev was chief of staff for President Rossen Plevneliev from January 2012 to April 2013.

Yovchev held senior posts in the National Security Service from 1993, later joining the State Agency for National Security when it was established under Bulgaria’s 2005-2009 socialist-led government. He left the agency in 2008 to run a security industry business, but from August 2009 to February 2011, returned to the agency as its head, resigning after then-prime minister Borissov publicly criticised the agency’s performance.

Accepting his resignation at the time, Borissov described Yovchev as “a good expert but not a good boss”. Yovchev’s resignation at the time was publicly linked to leaks of conversations that had been the subject of electronic eavesdropping by the agency. One of these conversations, the authenticity of which was never confirmed, purportedly involved Borissov asking the head of the customs agency to call off an investigation into the Ledenika brewery, at the time owned by the now-deceased Mihail “Misho The Beer” Mihov.

Soon after, Yovchev was appointed as national security adviser to Borissov, before his January 2012 appointment as Plevneliev’s chief of staff.

Bulgarian-language website Mediapool quoted sources as saying that with the assignment of deputy prime minister status to Yovchev, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms had gained control of Bulgaria’s entire security sector.

MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan reportedly had insisted on the appointment of Yovchev.

Oresharski’s statement about the cabinet restructuring came soon after the controversial election by BSP and MRF MPs of Delyan Peevski as the new head of the State Agency for National Security.




The Sofia Globe staff

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