The Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Plovdiv has on its own initiative started an investigation into the spending of funds for the January 12 opening ceremony of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said on January 16.
The investigation was initiated in response to “numerous reports and comments in various media,” the statement said.
The probe has been assigned to the economic crimes squad of Plovdiv police, with a 30-day deadline for completion, prosecutors said.
Responding to the announcement by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation said: “We are co-operating fully with the investigating authorities and while the inspection is in progress, we shall refrain from commenting, in order not to create difficulties in their work”.
“Our documents are public and we hope that this procedure will stop the speculation about our work on the opening event,” the foundation said.
The opening ceremony featured a specially-designed stage, with more than 1500 people from Plovdiv and elsewhere in Bulgaria participating in the opening show.
The show featured kaval player Teodosii Spassov, students from the National High School of Stage and Film Design in Plovdiv, Trakiya Ensemble dancers, kukeri (Bulgarian mummers), a 230-member choir, laser harp players, singer Valya Balkanska, more than 1100 volunteers, a fireworks display and DJ Schiller.
The event was controversial, with criticisms on social media of the content, while there also was praise for the show.
Bulgarian-language media reported extensively on criticism by television showman Slavi Trifonov who, responding to reports that the opening show had cost more than 2.1 million leva (just more than a million euro), said that he had rented “the same stage” for a third of the price. He had paid about 681 000 leva, Trifonov said.
In a lengthy response, the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation said on January 14 that it could hardly be a matter of the “same stage” because the opening ceremony stage had been unique, designed and built specifically for the event.
The foundation gave a breakdown of costs, saying that the stage had cost 219 053 leva, VAT not included, technical aspects such as sound, lighting, video and other items had cost 880 124 leva, VAT not included, and the rest went to items such as paying the performers and directors, costumes, travel, accommodation, catering, storage and fireworks.
It said that in accordance with Bulgarian law, these data were public and available on the foundation’s website, along with the entire opening event budget.
Earlier, the foundation said that the official ceremony of the opening of the European Capital of Culture, Plovdiv 2019, attracted the attention of millions of viewers online all over the world.
“More than 50 000 people gathered in the central part of the city to watch the ‘We Are All Colours’ multi-cultural opening ceremony. Tens of thousands tuned in to watch the event,” the foundation said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)