Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted by a large majority on February 19 2016 to accept a proposal to set up a special temporary committee to examine allegations of interference by Russia and by Turkey in Bulgaria’s domestic politics.
A total of 126 MPs voted in favour, 19 against and there were abstentions regarding the proposal, which was tabled by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – Parliament’s third-largest party and itself the subject of allegations that it has been caught up in a contest for power between Russia and Turkey.
The ad hoc committee will have a term of two months. Chaired by Valentin Radev, an MP for Parliament’s largest party and government majority partner GERB, it will be made up of two MPs from each parliamentary group.
However, the centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition, which earlier had spoken of making its own proposal to investigate alleged Russian and Turkish interference, indicated that it probably would not take part in the committee because Parliament had not adopted any of its proposals regarding the matter.
The committee is to be briefed on information available to the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry and security services.
Krassimir Karakachanov, a Deputy Speaker and co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, said that the establishment of the committee was a clear sign to all those had intervened and a cautionary note to “anyone who thinks that Bulgaria is up for grabs”.
In the past 25 years, the topic of such intervention had not been discussed seriously, he said.
Valeri Zhalyanov of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party challenged the idea of the committee’s investigation, questioning where the boundary lay between foreign and domestic affairs.