Bulgarian politicians in new eavesdropping row

The leader of Bulgaria’s centre-right opposition GERB party, former prime minister Boiko Borissov, has said that he will approach the Prosecutor-General over alleged illegal electronic eavesdropping on his conversations.

This is the latest episode in Bulgarian politics in which unlawful wiretapping is the central theme, with the runup to the May 2013 national parliamentary elections having been dominated by similar allegations against Borissov’s own government, notably the former interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

Now, Tsvetanov has alleged that he too is the subject by illegal surveillance, since the current Bulgarian Socialist Party has been in power. “I know how it is done,” he was quoted as saying by local media.

The latest controversy has an additional dimension, with anti-GERB publication Galeria claiming that it is in possession of the product of eavesdropping of a conversation at Borissov’s home in Bankya with Georgi Purvanov and Roumen Petkov. Purvanov, a former BSP leader and former head of state, has announced that his ABC movement will field a list of candidates separately from the BSP in the May 2014 European Parliament elections. Petkov, a former interior minister, is a close Purvanov ally.

Purvanov has denied that any such conversation could have taken place, saying that he had held no meetings with then-prime minister Borissov since ending his term as president, and adding that he did not even know where Borissov’s house was.

Borissov said that the last time he had a meeting with Purvanov, it was when he was prime minister and the meeting had taken place at the presidential residence.

Referring to alleged illegal electronic eavesdropping of him, Borissov said that “an international scandal, a Bulgarian Watergate” was coming.

Borissov said that when it had emerged that the United States had eavesdropped on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations, the media had asked not what Merkel had conversed about but who was behind the unlawful wiretapping.

He said that Monika Yossifova, the spouse of BSP leader Sergei Stanishev, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms were behind attempts to discredit him.

Stanishev also again came in for criticism from Purvanov, who said that people who had voted for the BSP in May 2013 instead had got something different, a government run by a circle including Stanishev and media mogul Delyan Peevski.

Borissov and Purvanov both have denied claims that they are planning an anti-BSP coalition. The BSP has been insisting that the Purvanov project is aimed at splitting the left-wing vote to benefit Borissov’s GERB. Bulgarian political commentators are divided on the possible impact that Purvanov’s ABC will have, with some seeing it as ultimately likely to bring down Stanishev and the BSP while others see it as unlikely to achieve anything more than the stillbirth at its launch in 2010.

Stanishev, responding to Borissov’s comment that a discrediting campaign against the GERB leader was being run by Monika Stanisheva and the MRF, said that for Borissov, lying was like saying good morning. He added that Purvanov’s comment about who was really running the country was “mere speculation”.

Lyutvi Mestan, leader of the MRF, dismissed Borissov’s allegation as “ridiculous”, saying, “I do not think it is serious to say that I have any resources to wiretap conversations”.

Later on January 16, interior minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said that neither the Interior Ministry nor the State Agency for National Security had issued a request for surveillance of Purvanov, Borissov or Petkov.

(Archive photo of Borissov and Purvanov after a December 1 2009 meeting at the Presidency: president.bg)




The Sofia Globe staff

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