Bulgaria’s security agency to investigate new bugging allegations

Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (SANS) is to investigate an allegation by centre-right opposition GERB party leader Boiko Borissov that he was subject to illegal electronic surveillance.

Borissov lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor-General on January 16, which has been referred to SANS for investigation.

Borissov’s deputy, former interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, on January 17 repeated claims that he too was being illegally wiretapped.

On January 15, Kristina Patrashkova of anti-GERB publication Galeria alleged that the publication had a recording of a meeting between ABC movement leader Georgi Purvanov, Borissov and Purvanov ally Roumen Petkov.

According to Patrashkova, at the meeting, Borissov and Purvanov discussed the ABC project. Borissov promised Purvanov and Petkov financial support for the ABC European Parliament election campaign, while businessman Nikolai Gigov was the other sponsor of the project, she said.

The allegation was made two days after Purvanov confirmed that ABC would put up its own candidate list separately from that of the Bulgarian Socialist Party in Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections. Purvanov’s move has been widely seen as openly reviving his campaign to seize back the leadership of the party he headed before becoming head of state in 2002.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party government has said that neither the Interior Ministy nor SANS had issued a request to eavesdrop on Borissov, Purvanov and Petkov.

Allegations of alleged illegal eavesdropping were a major theme ahead of Bulgaria’s May 2013 national parliamentary elections, in particular because of allegations directed against Tsvetanov.

On January 17, it emerged that in the course of the SANS investigation, Borissov, Purvanov, Petkov and Patrashkova would be questioned.

Purvanov has denied meeting Borissov since before ending his term as head of state, which ended in January 2012, while Borissov was prime minister.

In a January 17 television interview, Borissov issued a somewhat more elaborate denial. He said that he had not met Purvanov in close to two years, the most recent occasion being when he had accepted Purvanov’s invitation to coffee shortly before Rossen Plevneliev took office as president.

“Since then, not only not in Bankya (where Borissov lives), nor in a hut, nor at home, on the moon, on the metro, in the bathroom, in my toilet, have I met Purvanov,” Borissov said.

He said that he did not believe the Interior Ministry and SANS’ denials that they had been involved in illegal wiretapping of him. They had been involved “for years” in such activities, including in media reports based on edited recordings that Borissov likened to art installations.

Borissov said that an Interior Ministry vehicle was parked near his house, photographing visitors as part of a plan to discredit him.

Tsvetanov said that his phone was tapped by political opponents of GERB.

A day earlier, Borissov alleged that those behind the campaign, including the illegal surveillance, in an attempt to discredit him were the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – ruling axis ally of the BSP – and Monika Stanisheva, spouse of BSP leader Sergei.

These allegations were rejected by the MRF and Stanishev.

Tsvetanov said that the tools of the state were being used to keep tabs on political opponents and the plans and strategies of the party.

Speaking in Parliament on January 17, Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government, said that the administration that took office in May 2013 had “terminated the uncontrolled use of special intelligence surveillance”.

Oresharski was speaking in a special address to Parliament on the work of the current government. Because Oresharski’s remarks were made during a time slot that had been allocated for Question Time, the GERB parliamentary group walked out.

(Photo of Borissov: Council of the EU)




The Sofia Globe staff

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