Oligarchy calls for revolt against the state

With rallying cries for daily protests in the autumn and demands for the Cabinet and the National Assembly to step down, the protégés of the oligarchic circles in Bulgaria took to the streets for a second time, scared by Ivan Geshev’s candidacy for prosecutor general.

However, during the public demonstration organised by the NGO Justice for Everyone, which is affiliated with Hristo Ivanov, it became clear that the problem was not Geshev himself, but rather the fact that the behind-the scenes circles around former PM Ivan Kostov and his oligarchic spawns failed to push their own candidate for the position of the country’s top prosecutor. The blame for this was thrown at the doorstep of the behind-the-scenes clique’s sworn enemy – lawmaker of the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski.

In an attempt to clear themselves with their own, the clique’s mouthpieces tried to pin non-existent ties with Ivan Geshev on Delyan Peevski. This is an old talking point of the media outlets owned by the indicted oligarchs in Bulgaria, which for years have been disseminating the false thesis that Peevski has the judicial system under his thumb. How little truth there is to that allegation was revealed by a series of actions taken by the court system and the Prosecutor’s Office in the past months – first erasing the trademark of the biggest daily newspaper in Bulgaria (Telegraph) before two different panels of judges made a mockery of freedom of speech in the country by sentencing Telegraph Media and Delyan Peevski, respectively, for essentially telling the truth. The height of distortion of justice is the fact that the whole thing is set up so that the victimised side’s only recourse to challenge the unfair court rulings is the appeal before the court headed by the infamous pawn of the oligarchs in the judicial system – Lozan Panov.

This is why the shamelessness of the oligarchy and its servants reached new heights after the NGO Justice for Everyone, which is directly linked to the indicted businessmen Ivo Prokopiev and Tsvetan Vassilev, introduced to parliament a bill that would amend the Judicial System Act. The move represented the latest attempt of Prokopiev, Vassilev, their political project Yes, Bulgaria (which is headed by Hristo Ivanov) and their affiliated NGOs to undermine the appointment procedure for next prosecutor general.  

Even though neither established precedents nor the regulatory framework provide for the right of NGOs to legislative initiative, Justice for Everyone insists that the lawmakers consider their proposed amendments, including the insistence that non-profit public benefit organisatins and professional associations of magistrates as well as an entire list of other entities (including the Supreme Bar Council, legal schools with universities and various scientific organisations) should have the right to nominate candidates for the top position. While it is a mystery what the oligarchic NGO means by that last category, it is clear to whom the first two refer.

The list surely includes Justice for Everyone as well as another organisation tied to the oligarchy – Boets, which for weeks now has been campaigning, with the support of Tsvetan Vassilev himself, in favour of the candidacy of the scandalous investigator Boyko Atanasov, who was recently revealed to have scored a three (on a scale of two to six) on his criminal law exam. Another fit in the category is the grant-funded Union of Bulgarian Judges, which has proven to act as an instrument in the hands of the indicted businessmen. The so-called amendments put forward by Justice for Everyone also insist that the procedure for the appointment of new prosecutor general that is already in progress should be stopped.

The idea of the oligarchic pawns was sent out to the media via e-mail shortly before a second attempt at a protest against the candidacy of Ivan Geshev for prosecutor general took place in downtown Sofia. The gathering was attended by the usual suspects – all faces with dubious reputation and strong association with the behind-the-scenes circles in Bulgaria. Those included Dimitar Stoyanov from the racketeering website with Kremlin ties Bivol; Georgi Iliev from Yes, Bulgaria and Hristo Nikolov, who is a fixture in the protest culture and leads the chants. The crowd also featured pseudo-environmentalists Petko Kovachev and Toma Belev, professional protester Asen Genov, Justice for Everyone’s Petromir Kanchev and Tsvetan Vassilev’s favourite State Security agent Ilian Vassilev, accompanied by his dog.

The oligarchy was also supported by Emil Georgiev from Democratic Bulgaria, failed MEP candidate Stefan Tafrov and Petar Kardzhiov, PR person for the mayor with sentence on corruption charges Desislava Ivancheva. It would also not have counted as a protest without the presence of former MP Mincho Spasov, Ivo Mirchev from Yes, Bulgaria and Rosen Milenov, who was among the organisers of last year’s protests.

A prominent place in the group occupied Georgi Georgiev of the Tsvetan Vassilev-affilaited NGO Boets, who has unsettled charges for assaulting journalists, and Ognyan Stefanov, aka agent Academician, of Frognews. Other scandalous figures kept them company – such as attorney Nikolay Hadzhigenov, who is linked to the fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev; Arman Babikyan, a political PR serving the behind-the-scenes clique; and the even more scandalous politician Metodi Andreev. At first, the oligarchy’s loyal pawn Hristo “Pinocchio” Ivanov was nowhere to be found, but then the failed minister of justice (mastermind of the judicial reform that now dictates how a prosecutor general is appointed) decided to show his face at the demonstration. His loyal shadow Antoaneta Tsoneva also graced the event with her presence.

During the rally it became clear that the behind-the-scenes clique has a bigger goal than just thwarting Ivan Geshev’s candidacy for prosecutor general after Tsvetan Vassilev’s minion from Boets Georgi Georgiev called for a petition requesting that Geshev should withdraw his candidacy, that Boyko Atanasov be nominated for top prosecutor and that Boyko Borissov’s government resign. Meanwhile, the eternal protester Nikolay “Barefoot” Kolev turned up outside of the Sofia Court House, the site of the event, looking ready for a fight, armed with a tomato. In an attempt to facilitate the nomination of Atanasov, followers of the oligarchic NGOs started a petition in his support. 

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