Prosecutors question PM Borissov over ‘permission’ for Russian flights
Bulgaria’s Supreme Cassation Prosecution questioned Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in connection with a complaint filed by the Protest Network about his statement in September that he had not prevented a Russian non-humanitarian military flight to overfly Bulgaria on its way to Syria.
The 90-minute questioning on October 19 followed the Protest Network, which was founded at the time of the 2013/14 protests against the “Oresharski” cabinet, alleging that Borissov, by allowing the flight, had committed treason and in speaking about the matter publicly, had disclosed a state secret.
The Protest Network’s move followed reported remarks by Borissov at a September 13 meeting of his centre-right GERB party, the majority partner in the current cabinet.
Speaking to reporters after his questioning, Borissov denied wrongdoing.
He said that such illegal flights were prevented by legal actions by his government.
“There is a claim that I committed some crime because of the flight of a Russian aircraft that never flew over Bulgaria,” he said.
There had been neither a violation of Bulgaria’s constitution nor any of the country’s laws, Borissov said.
Speaking at the September 13 meeting, which was linked to GERB’s campaign in the October 25 mayoral and municipal elections, Borissov reportedly said that before the country denied overflight rights, he had given permission for a Russian aircraft to overfly Bulgarian territory.
The issue of flights by Russian military aircraft to Syria overflying other territories has been a prominent one, including because Bulgaria has said that it denied permission for such flights. Russia has claimed that the flights are “humanitarian” but the West has cast doubt on this claim, citing intelligence sources.
Bulgaria has refused permission, while at one point saying that it would consider giving permission provided that the Russian military aircraft landed at a Bulgarian airport to allow inspection of their cargo.
Continued refusal by Bulgaria to allow the Russian military flights has led Moscow to summon Bulgaria’s ambassador to request clarifications, recent reports in Russian media said.