Thousands of Bulgarians took part in a September 25 protest march in Sofia, the third in succession, against the sole nominee to be the country’s next Prosecutor-General, Ivan Geshev.
The participants in the march, organised by the “Justice for All” initiative, called on head of state President Roumen Radev not to sign the decree appointing Geshev to the post if he was elected, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
The protesters see Geshev as continuing the embodiment of a dysfunctional judiciary and as being put forward to serve the interests of a political cabal.
Unlike the two previous protest marches, the September 25 event passed without the presence of a group of muscular skinheads and close-cropped men who allegedly, going by previous reports, were bussed in with the goal of causing disruptions.
The chairperson of Justice for All, Velislav Velichkov, called on participants in the protest to be persistent in their demands for the withdrawal of Geshev, who currently is Deputy Prosecutor-General.
“We have already seen how a European Chief Prosecutor is elected. Let us show that we can achieve the same,” he said, in a reference to the announcement that the European Parliament and Council of the European Union had agreed on the appointment of Laura Codruța Kövesi, the former head of Romania’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, as the first European Chief Prosecutor.
The protesters seek the suspension of the current process of naming the next Bulgarian Prosecutor-General and the start of a new process with more candidates and wider opportunities for different entities to submit nominations.
“The hearings of the sole candidate for Prosecutor-General are starting this week. We also want to be heard, but because they do not invite us to ask questions inside, so we will ask them outside,” protesters said, according to Bulgarian media reports.
Justice for All said that demanding politicians’ resignations was not a priority, because it would not solve the problem.
“We know full well that the problem in the Prosecutor’s Office is systemic and deliberately created to feed the Mafia and is used as a tool against the inconvenient. Whoever has been in power in the past 29 years, this problem has always been present. Therefore, a resignation would not solve the systemic problem,” Justice for All said.
A further protest against Geshev’s nomination as Prosecutor-General is planned, for October 8.
On the official website of the Prosecutor’s Office, there has been a prolonged public relations campaign in favour of Geshev, with the posting of statements of endorsement from various regional prosecutor’s offices. However, among officers of the court, the Geshev nomination has been opposed by the body representing Bulgaria’s advocates.