Sofia deputy mayor resigns over controversial street repair project
Sofia deputy mayor for transport Evgeni Krousev said on December 4 that he submitted his resignation after becoming a target in the prosecutor’s office investigation into any irregularities concerning the ongoing repairs on the Graf Ignatiev Street in the city.
Krousev told reporters that he was subpoenaed as a defendant to appear in front of the investigators next week, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and said that his resignation would facilitate the investigation.
Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said she would accept the resignation.
Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office did not issue a statement on whether it intended to charge Krousev and on what grounds, but it previously confirmed that it opened a pre-trial investigation into the repair project.
The repairs to one of the main streets in central Sofia sparked several rounds of controversy earlier this year – both regarding the aesthetics of the project (in particular, the repaving of the nearby public garden in front of the St. Sedmochislenitzi church) and the quality of work and the materials used in the repairs.
One allegation, made by Spasi Sofia non-governmental organisation, was that some terms of the contract were amended with the project already underway, which was against Bulgaria’s law on public procurement. The claim is that the project was amended to use a particular vibration-dampening material even though at the tender stage one bidder was disqualified for offering to use that exact material.
Sofia city hall has consistently defended the project, asking that any judgment is passed only upon its completion.
Krousev doubled down in his defence of the project during the news conference on December 4. “At this moment, we can say that Graf Ignatiev has transformed from an Oriental flea market, which it looked like before, into one of the beautiful streets in Sofia. I believe that final touches will be put on the repairs soon and I hope that tram circulation will resume in the near future,” he said, as quoted by BNR.
“I can categorically say that I will defend my name. If I was misled by the project designer or someone else that participated in the process, I hope that the prosecutors will establish that fact,” Krousev said.
(Krousev, interviewed by Bulgarian National Television last month against the background of the ongoing repairs on Graf Ignatiev Street. Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)