Bulgaria political crisis: Siderov’s slapstick antics and Borissov’s assassination fears

The sitting of the Consultative Council on National Security, called by Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev on June 20, descended into farce from the very start, when nationalist leader Volen Siderov interrupted Plevneliev’s opening address to accuse him of having money in offshore accounts.

Siderov’s interruption appeared to irritate GERB leader Boiko Borissov, who left the council. Speaking to reporters outside the Presidency, Borissov said that the ruling coalition of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) had “prepared a scenario to detain me and kill me while under arrest”.

Plevneliev called a 15-minute recess, which reportedly went much longer than that. When the council resumed its session, it was without any media in attendance; Borissov did not return to the council either, his place as GERB representative taken by deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

The Consultative Council sitting on June 20 was called to discuss the recent amendments pushed by the ruling coalition in the security sector, merging the Interior Ministry’s chief directorate on combatting organised crime with the State Agency for National Security (SANS). Later, Plevneliev expanded the agenda to ask political parties to present “clear positions on how to solve the current crisis.”

Plevneliev called the meeting on June 14 after the BSP-MRF coalition swiftly appointed MRF MP Delyan Peevski as director of SANS, which in turn triggered anti-government protests. Parliament repealed its appointment on June 19, but that did not prevent an estimated 10 000 people to march in Bulgarian capital city Sofia later the same evening.

As Plevneliev began his opening address, Siderov jumped in, saying that the president “owed answers” about allegations that he had diverted $1 million from a company under his management to offshore accounts in Cyprus.

The anonymous allegations appeared online on June 18 and were taken down only hours later. In response, the Presidency said on the same day that the allegations were not true and that Plevneliev had never avoided paying taxes.

Siderov also accused Plevneliev of using government jets to travel with executives from companies that were “colonially exploiting” Bulgaria, a return to Siderov’s narrative during the election campaign, when he demanded the nationalisation of all foreign-owned major companies in Bulgaria.

When told that he was breaking protocol, Siderov accused Plevneliev of attempting to censor him.

BSP leader Sergei Stanishev and MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan did not comment on Siderov’s antics, but criticised Borissov for leaving the council meeting. The council was an opportunity for all parties to sit at one table, since GERB did not participate in Parliament sittings, Mestan was quoted as saying.

Assassination attempt
Borissov said that Peevski’s appointment was made at the request of former MRF leader Ahmed Dogan and was part of a scenario to kill Borissov.

In February, on the same day he resigned as prime minister, Borissov accused Dogan of ordering a hit on Borissov, citing an official document based on information from a “partner intelligence agency”. Several weeks later, Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov said that Borissov’s allegation was based on unreliable information passed on by an unidentified foreign intelligence service.

Now, Borissov has once again made the same allegation. “They have now understood that they cannot defeat GERB […] After these parties accepted the results of the elections and in this crisis, GERB is still the largest political force, they said that they must deal with the GERB leadership in a non-standard way and only Mr Peevski would agree to do so,” he said.

Asked why he did not pass on his fears to intelligence services, Borissov said that the intelligence services had been “demolished”.

“When I said that a document says Ahmed Dogan [ordered a hit], the prosecutors said that the scenario did not come true, that it was not serious. You cannot know if it’s true or not if they do not kill you,” Borissov said.

(Ataka leader Volen Siderov and President Rossen Plevneliev in May 2013, during consultations following Parliamentary elections. Photo: president.bg)



Alex Bivol

Alex Bivol is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe.