Two Sofia top cops resign after raid on TV7

Two senior Sofia police officers, the chief of the sixth district and the deputy head of the Sofia directorate of the Interior Ministry, resigned on April 29 after the controversial raid on the offices of Bulgarian television channel TV7.

Debt collectors, accompanied by a large contingent of Sofia police – later reinforced as journalists flocked to TV7’s offices and there were tense moments between the station’s employees and police – descended on the station’s offices on April 29 to seize television equipment that had been collateral for an unpaid debt of millions of euro to Corporate Commercial Bank.

The drama at TV7 became a national cause celebre, with Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova arriving at the television station’s offices in the afternoon, and Prime Minister Boiko Borissov announcing that he had ordered the withdrawal of police from the television company’s building.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry had said that the police deployment was lawful and had been agreed to at the request of the debt collectors.

Borissov distanced himself and his government from the “circus” at TV7 as opposition politicians rushed to criticise the actions of Borissov’s centre-right government.

Later, Borissov said that the police had acted in the “stupidest, most foolish and most brutal” manner at TV7.

The television station, in its heyday in recent years seen as close to the now-departed 2013/14 ruling axis and widely believed to have been an asset of Corporate Commercial Bank majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev, has a history of hostility to Borissov and against the anti-government protesters of the time.

Borissov said that TV7 was the media that had “most brutally violated democracy” and that brought figures in the former ruling axis of 2013/14 such as Plamen Oresharski and Petar Chobanov – respectively, the occupants of the prime minister’s and finance minister’s chairs in the now-departed administration – to power.

On April 29, Borissov was adamant about criticising the huge deployment of police and announced that he had told Buchvarova that the police should be withdrawn from the scene. TV7 had made much of the presence of police throughout its building, including when police refused to budge even from studios where employees were attempting a live news broadcast.

A statement by the Interior Ministry on the evening of April 29 said that Buchvarova had accepted the resignations of the deputy head of the Sofia Interior Ministry directorate, Senior Commissioner Radoslav Sotirov, and of the head of the sixth directorate, Commissioner Ivan Pepeldzhiyski.

Earlier, Buchvarova had told journalists that she thought that excessive measures had created tensions. At the time, she told reporters that if any of the police had overstepped the mark, there would be consequences.

The reason given for the departure of the two top cops was “insufficient co-ordination and planning of police actions”.



The Sofia Globe staff

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