Panayot Reyzi has resigned as mayor of Sozopol and as a member of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, a day after a court suspended him as mayor in connection with an indictment for allegedly misspending two million leva (about a million euro), GERB said in an April 9 statement.
Reyzi, who denies wrongdoing, was suspended along with the municipality’s chief accountant, Zlatka Musseva, following allegations of paying two million leva for construction work not to the company that carried out the work but to a private individual.
Reyzi has been in leadership positions in the Bulgarian southern Black Sea coastal town, a popular holiday resort, for several years. From 1999 to 2002, he was deputy mayor. From 2003 to 2007, he was chairman of the municipal council.
He was on his third term as mayor, having been elected to the post in 2005, 2011 and 2015. Bulgaria goes to the polls in municipal and mayoral elections in October 2019.
The GERB statement said that Reyzi announced his decision in a meeting with Borissov and one of GERB’s deputy leaders, Dimitar Nikolov, mayor of the southern Black Sea city of Bourgas.
According to the GERB statement, Reyzi decided to resign so that there could be no suspicion that he was interfering in the investigation into the alleged misspending.
The statement said that with Reyzi’s personal decision “he wants to show again the high moral standard in GERB, by which representatives of the party in the legislative, executive and local authorities leave their positions even over suspicions of violations of the law”.
In recent weeks, a number of senior GERB figures have resigned their posts in connection with an official investigation into allegations of having received apartments from a company at below-market prices. Those who have resigned include the Minister of Justice, while GERB deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov resigned from Parliament, and thus as leader of the party’s parliamentary group, though he remains its European Parliament election campaign chief and retains his party post.
In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of announcements by prosecutors of investigations into mayors of various small towns in Bulgaria in connection with alleged corruption and other irregularities. Prosecutors have hinted that further names are to be announced.
(Photo of Reyzi: Sozopol municipality. Photos of Sozopol: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)