Bulgaria: WCC-DB, GERB-UDF see Radostin Vassilev’s recording as sabotage of bid for government

We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and GERB-UDF see the release of a recording claimed to be of WCC-DB internal discussions on plans for a cabinet as part of a campaign to prevent a government being elected.

The recording was released on May 26 by MP Radostin Vassilev, as he announced he was leaving the WCC-DB parliamentary group and said that he would not vote in favour of its proposed government, in which GERB-UDF will be involved.

WCC-DB’s Kiril Petkov had told reporters the night before Vassilev’s news conference that the recording was manipulated to mislead, and thus trip up efforts to form a government. Petkov laid the blame at the door of security and intelligence services wanting to block reforms, the “deep state” and he hinted that President Roumen Radev was involved.

Vassilev said that the recording was of a WCC national council meeting last Sunday held to discuss on a deal on a government with GERB-UDF.

Among the most controversial aspects arising from the purported recording are, it was presented, that Petkov said that a deal with GERB would “wash” its leader Boiko Borissov and that Borissov wanted a government in place because the GERB leader feared Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev and Radev.

The recording as presented implies that in regard to replacing the chiefs of the security and intelligence services, the names of the replacements “are to be cleared with the embassy”.

It is also alleged that the recording shows that there have been talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on circumventing the rules so that Bulgaria may be admitted to the Schengen visa zone and to the euro zone.

It is further alleged that Petkov told the meeting that if Geshev requested Parliament to lift Borissov’s immunity as an MP from prosecution, DB co-leader Hristo Ivanov had proposed setting up a parliamentary ad hoc committee to consider the matter, with its deliberations to last six months, long enough to get Geshev out of office.

At his news conference, Radostin Vassilev denied that the recording had been doctored. Later on May 26, several Bulgarian-language media, including Bulgarian National Television, posted online a recording, lasting about four hours and 37 minutes, that had been sent to them.

Borissov, speaking to reporters in Parliament on May 26, said that Bulgaria had become a “country of wiretaps” and the aim of the release of the recording was to prevent a government being elected.

Petkov said: “We need a regular government that will reform the services and bring Bulgaria into Schengen. This is the main reason for today’s attack.

“We are observing how today we have a coordination of the pro-Russian forces in Bulgaria, including Vuzrazhdane this morning, and after the news conference, the BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party),” he said.

According to Petkov, the release of the recording might have something to do with the fact that Radev is delaying the handing over of the second mandate to seek to form a government.

Petkov said that at this stage he could not say what was manipulated and what was genuine in the five-hour recording, which Vassilev promised to send to the media. 

Petkov said that “national security is Bulgaria’s responsibility and that no other country can influence us”.

“Every candidate (to head the services) that we will propose, we will insist that he has a clean past, that he was not an agent of (communist-era) State Security and that he was not part of a criminal organisation at home or abroad. We have not agreed on any appointment with any embassy.”

He made light of Radostin Vassilev’s statement that Vassilev had been given personal protection by the State Agency for National Security.

Petkov said that the agency did not have the authority to provide security to individuals, only to strategic sites. “So Radostin Vassilev is a strategic site?” Petkov said.

DB’s Ivanov told reporters that it was obvious that the idea of the recording was to stop the proposed government.

“The goal is to throw Bulgaria into yet another round of elections, which will not solve anything. My call is not to give in, we need a government,” Ivanov said.

WCC-DB’s candidate Prime Minister, Nikolai Denkov, said: “We see attempts from all sides to block the (election of a) government”.

Vuzrazhdane told reporters that it was referring Petkov and WCC co-leader Assen Vassilev to the Prosecutor-General to be charged with treason.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova told Parliament that she was distancing her party “from this unprincipled coalition of omertà, immunities, thefts and the ongoing destruction of Bulgaria. Our parliamentary group will not participate today in this sitting, which is the culmination of the backstage in Bulgaria”.

As of 5.30pm on May 26, there is no indication on the presidency’s website when Radev intends to offer the second mandate to seek to form a government.

(Photo montage, from left: Petkov, Ivanov, Borissov, Radostin Vassilev)

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