Bulgaria’s coalition cabinet appointed on May 25 as Sofia regional governor, former Ataka MP Ilian Todorov, a figure most in the news in recent years for having been at Volen Siderov’s side during two controversial public incidents in the city in autumn 2015.
In one incident, Siderov and other Ataka members intruded on a cigarette store, alleging that it was selling contraband, and in another, a cohort from Ataka barged into the building of the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts.
Todorov was filmed being involved in altercations. The second incident, which caused an uproar sufficient to prompt a number of Bulgarian television stations to broadcast live from the scene, ended with police having to escort Siderov away from a large angry crowd. No criminal charges were lodged against Todorov.
Siderov, now part of the United Patriots coalition that is the minority partner in GERB leader and Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s third government, has hooliganism and minor assault convictions as a result of these and other incidents.
At the time of the incident at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, Todorov was reported to have uttered a wholly fictitious quote from sexologist Alfred Kinsey, that “75 per cent of artists are homosexuals and degenerates”.
In 2014, Todorov issued an open letter on the topic of Conchita Wurst having won the Eurovision song contest. Wurst’s victory, he said, was the result of the votes of “euro-imbeciles” and “zombie Europeans” who had made the third sex the norm.
A transvestite was being idolised and was a star winner, someone who could travel anywhere, unlike the president of the Russian duma, Sergey Naryshkin, who was not being allowed into Bulgaria, said Todorov. He contrasted the barring of someone from an “Orthodox and Christian country” while saying that “gays can travel anywhere”.
The two-paragraph statement by the Bulgarian government on the appointment of Todorov as Sofia regional governor did not – unsurprisingly – mention these more colourful aspects of his recent career, noting only that he was an MP in the 42nd and 43rd National Assemblies and was a graduate of the GS Military Academy, with a master’s degree in national security and defence.
The government also announced that Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov will head the national council for co-operation and ethnic and integration issues.
The council is a coordinating and advisory body that assists the Cabinet in the field of state policy on ethnic and integration issues on the basis of cooperation between the state bodies and the associations of Bulgarian citizens belonging to ethnic minorities.
One of the associations of Bulgarian citizens belong to ethnic minorities, the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, recently criticised Simeonov – a co-leader of the United Patriots – for his reported statements in connection with last week’s “Nazi salute” scandals. Simeonov denies making the statements, saying that he was misreported.
The Todorov appointment brings to five the number of governors appointed from the United Patriots, a formation of nationalist and far-right parties. The others are Sofia city governor Nikolai Pehlivanov, of Ataka, Dobrich governor Atanas Atanassov of Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO, Rousse governor Galin Grigorov of VMRO, and Stara Zagora governor Gergana Mikova, formerly director of the regional governor of Simeonov’s mouthpiece Skat TV.