Capital wants to drive train of power

Prokopiev has the need to be constantly on the state’s feeding rack

Ivo Prokopiev

The Capital Circle is obviously trying to hope on the government train and drive it, as it has done in PM Boyko Borissov’s previous two governments. This furious desire of the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev is made fully transparent in the latest issue of his weekly newspaper with negligible circulation Capital.

It is clear what the oligarch and his associates of the behind-the-scenes clique want – to sit behind the state’s steering wheel and in control of its funds so that they can distribute power and public resources as they see fit.

To that end, the Capital circle is utilising the tried-and-tested instrument of spreading blatant lies, insinuations and fake news. “What has been happening over the past few weeks indicates a shift – Peevski and the coalition constructed by him are increasingly at the helm, while Borissov is turning more and more into its face rather than the engine,” the publication argues. This assertion is actually a jarring admission that the oligarch had failed to insert his people in ministerial positons in Borissov’s third cabinet, unlike in the previous two. To camouflage his ambitions, Prokopiev is once again disseminating fake news against lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. However, the oligarch is missing a very important fact – the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) is in opposition and Peevski is an MP in opposition.

“Ten years ago, at the outset of his rule, the circle around Delyan Peevski (which at the time included Tsvetan Vassilev and CorpBank) had some influence in GERB, mainly through the MRF,” the article continues with its falsehoods. This assertion lacks a single kernel of truth, as it has been made evident that Peevski has no ties to Tsvetan Vassilev. The former has never sat on the management or supervisory boards of the lender and never owned shares or had assets subject to legal proceedings stemming from the CorpBank bankruptcy.

It is in the first Borissov cabinet that Prokopiev put his cronies Traycho Traykov and Simoen Djankov as ministers. The trio orchestrated a scandalous deal for the sale of the state’s remaining 33% stake in the EVN-Bulgaria power distribution company. The holy trinity is now standing before the Specialised Criminal Court and facing jail time – Prokopiev and Dyankov may be sentenced to up to 10 years of imprisonment, while Traykov is looking at a maximum of 12 years. Prokopiev’s personal piggy-bank, Bulbrokers, alone has brought him BGN 1.3m by manipulating the estimated value of the state’s stake in its capacity as intermediary. The EVN deal is among the most infamous schemes of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy, rivaling even the criminally conducted privatisation process engineered by former PM Ivan Kostov (which led to the Kremikovtzi plant being sold for $1 and the Balkan airlines – for what amounted to the cost of an apartment).

Furthermore, Simeon Djankov used to rent a property on 60-62 Dospat Str, Sofia owned by Prokopiev. Only the two of them know how exactly Djankov repaid his landlord. Additionally, Traycho Traykov used to own 278 shares in Prokopiev’s mining company Kaolin AD while in office (2009-11). The largest company for kaolin extraction and inert waste processing on the Balkans was practically gifted to Prokopiev by the mastermind of the “dark transition to democracy” Ivan Kostov.

“In the second Borissov cabinet, Peevski seemed to be something of a shadowy partner,” the inaccurate claims in the Capital article keep piling up. Several of the ministers in the second cabinet headed by Borissov were very close to Prokopiev – Nikolay Nenchev (defence), Daniel Mitov (foreign affairs) and Hristo Ivanov (justice). The first two would later be charged with malfeasance, while Ivanov became best known for overseeing a failed judicial reform. As a minister of justice, Hristo Ivanov tried to make the Prosecutor’s Office answer to the executive branch of power and turn the Supreme Judicial Council into a powerless, puppet structure by depriving it of its role as the personnel body of the judiciary.

The direct connection between Prokopiev and Hristo Ivanov was illuminated by the ARGO-gate shorthand records, where the two were revealed to act in unison in their efforts to capture the entire state. Those records testify to the failed justice minister saying that the wife of the head of the Supreme Court of Cassation Lozan Panov is a “black swan”, meaning that she has a criminal record. At the same time, Traycho Traykov outed the secret sponsor of the behind-the-scenes clique – the financial fraudster hiding in Belgrade Tsvetan Vassilev, who defrauded CorpBank depositors of BGN 5-6bn. The ARGO-gate shorthand records also revealed that Prokopiev controls the mainstream, i.e. the major TV networks, which serve the oligarchs’ interests. Add to that a huge number of fake-news-spreading websites controlled by the oligarchic cronies – Club Z of Ognyan Donev (Ogi “The Pill”); Frognews of Ognyan Stefanov, aka Agent Academician of the former State Security; and Mediapool of Stoyana Georgieva, former spokesperson for Ivan Kostov. And if Prokopiev is the godfather of fake news, Stoyana Georgieva is definitely the godmother of this “brand of journalism” in Bulgaria. Georgieva is the author of two classical fake-news examples – a small and a big one. The more innocuous one is that supporters of Kostov wrote on her website that they wanted Kostov to found a new party and that is how Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria was born. The more sinister one, which generated a public firestorm, is the fabrication that the European Commission (EC) called for Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov to resign. Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EC at the time, had to come out with a statement refuting that claim.

This entire hullabaloo shows that Prokopiev has the need to constantly be on the state’s feeding rack, as he has been during his entire business career, and cannot survive without leeching the state coffers.

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