Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections: CEC gives permission for arrest of five candidates
Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission announced on October 22 that it had given permission to the Special Prosecutor’s Office to arrest five candidates in the local elections, including candidate mayors in Nessebur and Sveti Vlas on the Black Sea coast.
The five subject to pre-trial proceedings are Nikolai Dimitrov, an independent mayoral candidate in Nessebur, Georgi Dimitrov, Petar Todorov, candidate councillors on the Bulgarian Socialist Party list in Nessebur, Konstantin Lefterov, a Movement 21 candidate councillor in Nessebur, and Atanas Yapadzhiev, Movement 21’s candidate for mayor of Sveti Vlas. All were named in separate decisions posted on the Central Election Commission website.
Nikolai Dimitrov, first elected mayor of Nessebur in 2007 on an independent ticket and twice re-elected, told local media on October 22 that he had not been arrested and that the move against him came from “would-be oligarchs” and private commercial interests that wanted to take over Nessebur.
Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio said on October 22 that Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov had lodged the request to the Central Election Commission in connection with alleged vote-buying.
Media reports this past weekend said that Bulgaria’s anti-organised crime squad and anti-corruption commission carried out raids in offices, private homes and shops in Nessebur, Sveti Vlas and Slunchev Bryag in an operation against vote-buying. Documents and mobile phones were seized in the operation, carried out on Saturday and Sunday, according to the reports.
A report by Bulgarian National Television on October 20 said that a week before Bulgaria’s mayoral and municipal elections, “record sums” were being paid in vote-buying schemes at the Black Sea coast, reaching 300 leva (about 150 euro) a vote although only 50 leva of this went to the voter.
Although reports at the weekend said that prosecutors would make a statement about the operations in the Black Sea resorts on October 21, by the early afternoon of October 22 the Prosecutor’s Office had not made a statement about the operations.
Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections: Factfile