Bulgarian PM on Trifonov’s party: Mafia just lost its coalition partner

The co-leaders of the We Continue the Change party, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Deputy PM and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, have welcomed the “great courage” of the outgoing Cabinet minister and five MPs who announced on June 13 that they were leaving Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party.

The announcement by outgoing Sports Minister Radostin Vassilev and the five MPs came five days after Trifonov announced that ITN was withdrawing from Bulgaria’s ruling coalition.

“The mafia has just lost its coalition partner,” Petkov said in a swingeing attack on ITN.

Petkov expressed thanks for the “great courage of people like Radostin Vassilev, who in recent months has fought with all his might to fight the mafia in sports”.

“Today I saw some brave people who know that their loyalty is not to a former singer [a reference to Trifonov],” Petkov said.

“These people are really brave, Bulgaria has a chance,” he said.

Petkov said that Vassilev had “fought against the mafia in sports” although there was no anti-corruption commission to help him “because Slavi Trifonov did not want a chairman [of the commission] to be elected”.

Bulgaria’s ruling coalition, which has changed from being quadripartite to tripartite following ITN’s departure, now may muster 109 out of the 240 seats in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, meaning that it needs 12 MPs to make up the shortfall to get the Budget amendments and other key legislation approved.

“I believe that this type of courage will be contagious and in this Parliament we will have a majority of people who say ‘No’ to the mafia,” Petkov said.

Vassilev said: “We believe that in this National Assembly there are people who are masters of themselves and will have the courage to stand clearly on the side of the people. If such a majority does not gather, we will go to the polls”.

“The country should be run by MPs who come to work in this building every day, not by screenwriters behind the scenes, former prime ministers in jeeps or honorary chairmen from the seraglio,” Vassilev said, referring, respectively, to ITN, opposition GERB leader and former PM Boiko Borissov, and Movement for Rights and Freedoms founder Ahmed Dogan.

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