Bulgaria: Candidate MP allegedly involved in fake Covid certificate scheme

One of those involved in a scheme selling fake Covid certificates, exposed by a television report, is a candidate in Bulgaria’s November 2021 early parliamentary elections, the head of the National Police directorate Stanimir Stanev said on November 7.

The scheme involved the selling of Covid-19 vaccination certificates to people who had not been vaccinated.

Stanev declined to disclose the identity of the candidate MP and said that a request had been submitted to the Central Election Commission to remove the immunity from prosecution that he has as a candidate.

However, Valeri Simeonov, leader of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), identified the person as a candidate from his Patriotic Front electoral coalition, Velichko Georgiev.

Simeonov told Nova Televizia that the NFSB’s executive council would meet on November 8 to discuss the expulsion of Georgiev from the party, and called on him to step down as an election candidate.

The party cannot withdraw Georgiev from its election list because the deadline for amending candidates’ lists, ahead of the November 14 vote, has passed.

Nova Televizia reported that the fake certificates cost 300 leva (about 150 euro) for ordinary service and 450 leva for express service.

The television station said that, according to an intermediary, between 15 and 30 false certificates were issued per day by just one doctor. Others allegedly involved in the scheme included a nurse at a clinic in Sofia and a personal doctor.

Stanev said that 10 further similar cases involving the sale of certificates were being investigated in Veliko Turnovo, Gabrovo, Lovech, Pleven, Pazardzhik, Sliven and Haskovo.

An order issued by Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov, that came into effect on October 21, provides for Covid green certificates to be required for admission to public places such as shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas.

The episode involving the candidate MP could be a major embarrassment for Simeonov, who is also a candidate in Bulgaria’s November presidential elections, though an Exacta poll showed him as having no chance of winning (and his coalition as having no chance of winning seats in Parliament). Alone among Bulgaria’s ultra-nationalist parties, Simeonov has spoken in favour of vaccination and has been scathing about politicians pandering to the anti-vaxxer vote.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.

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