A few hours after Deputy Prime Minister Roumyana Buchvarova had the interior ministry added to her portfolio, Bulgaria’s cabinet said on March 11 that it was proposing the appointment of Georgi Kostov as chief secretary of the Interior Ministry.
By law, the ministry chief secretary is appointed by decree of the President, acting on the recommendation of the cabinet.
Just more than two hours after the cabinet announced Kostov’s nomination, President Rossen Plevneliev’s office said that he had issued the decree confirming it.
Kostov, who has been deputy chief secretary of the Interior Ministry since the end of 2014, at a time that the current centre-right coalition government already had taken office, would succeed Svetozar Lazarov.
Lazarov, in office since June 2013, when the Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms government was in power, submitted his resignation on March 6 2015 at the request of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
Borissov had called for Lazarov’s resignation along with that of State Agency for National Security chief Vladimir Pisanchev, another holdover from the time of the BSP-MRF ruling axis, appointed as head of SANS after the June 2013 debacle over the abortive appointment of Delyan Peevski to that post.
A cabinet statement on March 11 noted that Kostov met the requirements in the recently-amended Interior Ministry Act for the post of chief secretary.
Kostov has been employed by the Interior Ministry since 1993, holding posts in Sofia, in 1998 becoming head of the serious crimes squad and heading the “Criminal Police” in the ninth precinct in Sofia from 2009 to 2010. Director’s posts in Blagoevgrad and Bourgas, respectively, followed, before he became deputy chief secretary of the ministry.
The cabinet also asked President Plevneliev to issue a decree dismissing Pisanchev. Until a new head of SANS is appointed, deputy head Nedyalko Nedyaklov will act as head of the agency.
The same announcement by Plevneliev’s office said that he had decreed the dismissal of Pisanchev.
Borissov told Parliament on March 11 that a new head of SANS would be nominated next week.
Meanwhile, several Bulgarian-language media reports said that the vacant post of head of Military Intelligence would go to Yordan Bakalov, who was caretaker interior minister in the 2014 Georgi Bliznashki interim cabinet.
Bakalov was a member of four successive parliaments from 1997 to 2013. A member of the centre-right Union of Democratic Forces, he was UDF floor leader in the National Assembly from 1997 to 2001. He has served on various parliamentary committees, including that on internal security and public order.
The UDF is now part of the Reformist Bloc, the minority partner in the centre-right coalition cabinet that took office in November 2014.
Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev fired Military Intelligence head Vesselin Ivanov on March 9, saying that he had been unable to reach consensus with him on important issues, including the fact that almost 40 per cent of the senior staff of Military Intelligence dated from before 1991 – the time of Bulgaria’s communist era.
Ivanov told local media that the likely reason for Nenchev’s decision was their clash over Dossier Commission access to the archives of Military Intelligence.