The leader of Bulgarian ultra-nationalist party Ataka, Volen Siderov, was elected on June 19 chairperson of Parliament’s committee on the fight against corruption, conflict of interest and parliamentary ethics.
Also on June 19, Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski appointed 11 regional governors and five deputy ministers – and later fired one of the newly-appointed deputy ministers on the same day.
Siderov has repeatedly said that he did not support the Oresharski administration or the parliamentary coalition that endorsed the cabinet; he has denied making any backroom deals for registering in Parliament on the day that the Oresharski government was voted into office – his presence provided the necessary quorum for the parliamentary session to go ahead.
Nevertheless, he has made no secret of his desire to head the anti-corruption committee, but MPs in the ruling coalition – speaking on condition of anonymity, as reported by news website Mediapool.bg – have said that Siderov’s frequent breaches of parliamentary ethics created the prospect of Siderov finding himself in conflict of interest, since he would now be in charge of the committee tasked with investigating breaches of parliamentary ethics.
The 42nd National Assembly will have 22 permanent committees – 12 of them will be chaired by socialist MPs and seven by representatives of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), with the chairpersons of the last two committees to be decided on June 20.
MRF MPs will chair several key committees – economic affairs, budget and finance, energy, and legal affairs. Socialist MPs were appointed as heads of the committees on internal affairs and public order, foreign affairs and the committee overseeing security services.
Opposition party GERB, which won the most votes in the May 2013 elections and has the largest group in Parliament but found no coalition partners to form the government, will have eight members in each committee. Socialists will have seven, MRF three and Ataka two.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oresharski appointed 11 regional governors, all of them nominated by the socialists – for Bourgas, Vidin, Vratsa, Gabrovo, Dobrich, Kurdjali, Lovech, Pleven, Sliven, Smolyan and Sofia municipality.
This was the second batch of regional governors appointed by Oresharski, in addition to the nine governors named last week. The Cabinet is yet to name governors for eight more regions.
Oresharski also named five new deputy ministers, in addition to the 17 appointed last week – Lyudmila Elkova as Deputy Finance Minister, Ivan Ivanov as Deputy Interior Minister, Dobromir Simidchiev as Deputy Regional Development Minister, Petar Kirov as Deputy Transport Minister and Atanaska Teneva as Deputy Education Minister.
Later in the day, however, the Cabinet’s press service said in a terse statement that Ivanov had been fired as deputy minister. The statement gave no further details, but reports in several Bulgarian-language media highlighted the ties between Ivanov’s father and the highly-controversial business group SIC, which was influential during the early years of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy in the 1990s.
(Ataka leader Volen Siderov. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)