Bulgaria’s 2019 local elections: Nessebur mayor among accused of vote-buying

The mayor of the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Nessebur, Nikolai Dimitrov, is accused of heading an organised crime group involved in vote-buying, the Special Prosecutor’s Office said on October 24.

Dimitrov was first elected mayor of Nessebur in 2007 and has been re-elected twice. He is seeking a further term on a ticket backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

Also accused are 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. Movement 21 is a breakaway from the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

Nikolai Dimitrov is being charged as the head of the group and the other four as members.

According to prosecutors, a “huge body of evidence” was gathered during the investigation. Witnesses were questioned, seven of them before a judge.

Eleven addresses were searched, and evidence seized, including cash, notebooks, mobile phones and lists of voters, prosecutors said.

Allegedly, a member of the group contacted a resident of Sveti Vlas to work for them and provide at least 400 votes for a fee.

A person was offered 10 000 leva (about 5000 euro) and was told to find four more intermediaries, each of which would receive 5000 leva and a good salary in the municipality after the autumn 2019 local elections.

The alleged organised crime group was offering to pay 100 leva (50 euro) a vote, prosecutors said.

The briefing was told that those who accepted the bribe would be required to provide proof that they had voted as paid on election day.

Bulgaria goes to the polls in mayoral and municipal elections on October 27 2019. In places where mayoral elections are not decisive, a second round will be held on November 3.



The Sofia Globe staff

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