The days appear numbered for Svetozar Lazarov as chief secretary of Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry after the National Assembly approved the second reading of amendments to the Interior Ministry Act.
The amendments adopted on February 11 require the Interior Ministry chief secretary to have at least 10 years professional experience in the security or public order services, at least half of these in a senior management position.
Lazarov, appointed in June 2013 after posts at the State Agency for National Security and in the Interior Ministry, has the required years in the security services but does not meet the criterion for service in a senior management position.
The amendments to the Interior Ministry Act are the latest step to erase changes made by the now-departed Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms ruling axis during its months in power in 2013 and 2014.
That ruling axis got its own version of the laws on the Interior Ministry through Parliament, making the post of chief secretary of the ministry a cabinet appointment, and moved to ensure that Lazarov would remain as Interior Ministry chief for five years, a term long outlasting that of the cabinet that left office amid widespread public rejection.
The amendments also return to the head of state the power to appoint the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry – a power that was taken away by the former ruling axis’s law.
The amendments enable the dismissal of an incumbent chief secretary who does not meet the new legal requirements of the post.
The BSP-MRF “Oresharski” cabinet, which was held in place by far-right party Ataka, had moved in various ways to splinter off powers from the President’s office, because head of state Rossen Plevneliev was seen by them as controlled by GERB, Boiko Borissov’s party.
Another change to the Interior Ministry Act, re-amending of which has been made a priority since Borissov returned to power after October 2014 early elections which saw the former ruling axis routed, moves the Chief Directorate for Combating Organised Crime back to the Interior Ministry.
At the time of the former ruling axis, the directorate against organised crime was absorbed into the State Agency for National Security, the body established in 2007 when the previous tripartite coalition led by the BSP was in power.