Ataka party leader Volen Siderov broke the law by campaigning on the October 25 2015 election day, Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission has ruled.
On his party’s mouthpiece TV Alfa, Siderov made a call on election day for people to support Ataka “and topple the criminal GERB clique”.
GERB is Boiko Borissov’s centre-right party, which achieved a large number of first-round election victories, including in Sofia and other major cities. Siderov’s party, countrywide, got about three per cent of the vote in the mayoral and municipal elections.
The election commission announced its decision after examining video recordings of statements by Siderov, including that he would not comply with any rules on election day.
The commission found that Siderov had violated provisions of the law against expressions of support or statements against a candidate or political entity on election day, and against the use of materials that violate the decency, honour and reputation of candidates.
The CEC decision will be sent to the District Governor of Sofia who will issue a penalty. The decision is subject to appeal in the Supreme Administrative Court within three days of its announcement.
This week, an all-party ad hoc committee of Parliament recommended that the National Assembly remove the immunity from prosecution of Siderov and fellow Ataka MP Dessislav Chukolov. The recommendation was made in connection with one of the requests tabled in Parliament by Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, regarding criminal charges that prosecutors want to lay against Siderov and Chukolov for hooliganism and intimidation during an incident at a late-night liquor store in Sofia earlier in October.
A decision is pending on another request by the Prosecutor-General against Siderov and Chukolov regarding charges of hooliganism and intimidation when the two Ataka MPs intruded on students at the National Academy for Film and Theatre Arts in Sofia.
A vote by Parliament is expected in the coming week. Siderov is already the subject of a trial on criminal charges in connection with a January 2014 incident at Varna Airport during which he allegedly assaulted police, after being involved in a confrontation with a French diplomat on a Sofia-Varna flight.
His latest episodes of behaviour have been roundly condemned by most political parties and have been the subject of widely-supported public protests demanding the removal of his immunity. The Siderov incidents also have prompted GERB to initiate negotiations on changing the constitution to cut back provisions on immunity from prosecution for MPs, which critics of the Ataka leader have accused him of consistently abusing.
Siderov, whose pro-Russian party is one of the two smallest in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, rejects allegations of wrongdoing.
(Archive photo of Siderov at a March 2013 Ataka event: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)