Environment Minister Neno Dimov, who was facing charges of mismanagement that resulted in the ongoing water shortage in the town of Pernik, submitted his resignation on January 10, which was accepted by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
The prosecutor’s office said that Dimov authorised the pumping of water from the Stoudena reservoir over a period spanning from the beginning of 2018 until November 2019, despite warnings that water levels were approaching critically low levels.
Dimov was routinely kept informed of the water levels in the reservoir, but authorised the pumping of larger quantities than requested by industrial consumers, case prosecutor Angel Kunev told reporters. The evidence collected pointed towards intentional mismanagement, he said.
“This was not a single act by the minister. The damages are enormous, with 97 000 people facing water restrictions,” he said.
Dimov was questioned at his office on the morning of January 9 by Special Prosecutor’s Office staff and Interior Ministry officers. In the early afternoon, he was taken from the building and placed in a Prosecutor’s Office van to be taken away for further questioning.
He was later detained overnight for 24 hours and faced a further 72 hours under arrest once he and his legal counsel were informed of the charges, Kunev said.
Even before prosecutors pressed charges, Dimov had submitted his resignation, with the Cabinet media office saying in a brief statement that it has been accepted.
Dimov was a nominee of the minority partner in the coalition, the ultra-nationalist United Patriots. Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, one of the United Patriots co-leaders, described the events on January 9 as a “public execution”.
Karakachanov told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television that Dimov’s arrest was “unnecessary” and said that he did not believe that the now-former minister was responsible for the Pernik water shortage.
Case prosecutor Kunev said that at the time Dimov left his office for further questioning on January 9 he was not detained and could freely speak to the media.
(Neno Dimov photo: Environment Ministry)