Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has accepted the resignation of Tsetska Tsacheva as Justice Minister, the government information service said on March 23.
Borissov and Tsacheva had met and discussed the property deal associated with her name, the statement said, referring to the controversy in recent days that Tsacheva was one of four politicians from Borissov’s GERB party alleged to have bought apartments from the same seller at below-market prices.
Tsacheva had told Borissov that she was submitting her resignation and did not want the tensions over the issue to affect the work of the government, the statement said.
Speaking to journalists on the afternoon of March 23, a few hours after her morning meeting with Borissov, Tsacheva said that her resignation was a personal decision and followed her request on March 22 for the Prosecutor’s Office and the anti-corruption commission to investigate her property acquisition.
Tsacheva said that while investigations were ongoing, it was not appropriate for her to perform her functions as Minister of Justice.
Tsacheva said that she had no concerns that a crime had been committed, had no relationship with the seller and there was, she said, no question of abuse of power.
She said that she had awaited the return of Borissov from Brussels – where he had been attending a two-day meeting of the European Council – to sit down with him and “calmly” explain the situation.
Tsacheva said that she would take leave pending a vote in the National Assembly on her resignation. She would make no further comment on the matter while the investigations were underway.
On March 22, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office said that the Commission for Combating Corruption and the Withdrawal of the Illegally Acquired Property would be investigating GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Justice Minister Tsacheva, Deputy Minister of Sport Vanya Koleva and Vezhdi Rashidov, head of Parliament’s committee on culture and a former culture minister, in connection with their apartment acquisitions. All four have denied wrongdoing, while Tsvetanov repeatedly has insisted that the controversy was generated to damage GERB ahead of Bulgaria’s May 2019 European Parliament elections.
Among the first politicians to comment on Tsacheva’s resignation was Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, a co-leader of the United Patriots, the nationalist grouping that is the minority partner in the third Borissov government. Karakachanov said that the resignation did not put the stability of the government at risk.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party called on the other three politicians named in the apartments controversy also to resign.
(Photo, of Tsvetanov, Borissov and Tsacheva: gerb.bg)