Pardew article written under Prokopiev’s carbon copy

Protégé of the oligarch is an informer for the diplomat in Washington

Former US ambassador to Sofia James Pardew (R) following his meeting with chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Fund Filip Gunev and former deputy ambassador Roderick Moore (L) on 19 November in Washington.

Whatever anyone tells you, just know that they are talking about money. This advice by the American novelist, screenplay writer, essayist and Nobel laureate for literature John Steinbeck is the best description for the opinion piece authored by former US ambassador to Sofia James Pardew for The Hill and entitled “Trump and Bulgaria: Attacks on free media damage democracy”.

It seems written under the carbon paper provided by the oligarch Ivo Prokopiev. It strictly follows the talking points used by the Bulgarian behind-the-scenes clique and the theses peddled around the world by the lackeys of George Soros. It would appear that the inspirer and sponsor of these manipulations is none other than the indicted Prokopiev. This was made evident by a photo published in the website Dnevnik on 19 November of this year. It was taken in Washington and shows Pardew, together with former deputy ambassador for the US to Sofia Roderick Moore, in the company of Filip Gunev, chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Fund. Said organisation is a weapon Prokopiev wields against inconvenient people. Pardew claims that he is “most familiar with the situation in Bulgaria”, but it is more likely that Gunev is his informer.

Pardew served as US ambassador to Sofia nearly 15 years ago – from 2002 until 2005. It is during that period, and under the diplomat’s nose that the Capital circle started its rise. After receiving generous gifts like the winery Damianitza and the mining company Kaolin from the Commander of Bulgaria’s murky transition to democracy, former PM Ivan Kostov, Prokopiev gradually solidified his empire with tens of millions of levs syphoned off the state and then proceeded to conquer mainstream media (the major TV networks). He admits the latter in one of the half-conspiratorial meetings of the behind-the-scenes clique, held on 17 November 2016. Pardew conveniently omits that fact, acts like Prokopiev’s lawyer and tries to downplay the damage resulting from his actions. It is curious to know why back then, when he was an official representative of the US, Pardew did not talk about the fact that Prokopiev plundered the state and put his hands on all major media outlets with the express goal of ensuring that the Capital circle controlled society and inundated its sense with fake news.

To stay in line with the talking points of his sponsor, the retired diplomat claims that lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski is “the kingpin of the private Bulgarian media today” and that he “reportedly has owned as much as 80 percent of the market, including a large share of the print news distribution in the country”. In reality, Peevski owns three national daily newspapers – Telegraph, Monitor, and Meridian Match – the regional Borba, and the weekly newspapers Politika and Europost (published in English). That makes six in total. According to the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC), the leading print publications (newspapers and magazines) in Bulgaria are 70. The National Statistical Institute provides a more complete picture of the print media market for 2018 – 239 newspapers, including 37 daily newspapers, and 602 magazines and bulletins. All of Pardew’s assertions are pure insinuations, as they are disproven by official data. Pardew’s allegation about a monopoly in the distribution market is also absurd. It was debunked by the CPC back in July 2018. In its Decision №717 regarding a sector analysis of the competition environment in the media market of the country, the CPC concludes that not only is any suggestion of an existing monopoly erroneous, but that there are no insurmountable barriers for new participants to enter the market for distribution of print media or for existing ones to expand their business.

While he served as ambassador to Sofia, Pardew not once commented on the White Paper of the NDSV party, the fact that assets worth between BGN 20bn and BGN 30bn were captured by the oligarchy under Kostov’s term in office in exchange for BGN 2-3bn paid to the state in privatisation deals. He also remained silent about the circumstance that this data was also in a report prepared by the World Bank – one of the five institutions established at the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 under the auspices of his native America. Pardew never said a word about the fact that in 2003, which is smack dab in the middle of his term as ambassador, Prokopiev seized the so-called Dream Pool (the pooling of shares of five of Bulgaria’s most lucrative companies – editor’s note) after switching allegiances from the right-wing to the ruling NDSV. The halls of the government were already permeated with the stench of the Capital circle. A key figure for the circle’s agenda became vice-PM Lidia Shuleva. On her watch, Prokopiev’s investment brokerage company Bulbrokers won the public procurement tender for consultant on Dream Pool, more specifically the sale of minority stakes in the insurer DZI EAD (20%), Navigation Maritime Bulgaria (30%), Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (49%), Bulgartabac Holding (12.8%) and the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTK) (20%). Looking back, the deal for providing investment brokerage services on the privatisation of BTK was a cornerstone for Prokopiev’s business. Often described as one of the heists of the century, the deal left numerous unanswered questions. The prospectus prepared by Bulbrokers laid out a plan to sell 34.8% of the BTK shares via the stock exchange, with compensatory notes used as a means of payment. This is a trademark of privatisations deals with Prokopiev’s involvement. Compensatory notes were nothing but an instrument to syphon off a public asset, as they were acquired from the stock exchange, where they were traded at a price several times below nominal value. Let’s say one share costs $1 and a single compensatory note has face value of $1, but actually sells for 20 cents, the buyer will pay a price five times lower than the real one. That was essentially the approach that Bulbrokers proposed to the Privatisation Agency in the BTK case. But only the partners in Bulbrokers – Ivo Prokopiev and Ivan Nenkov – had this inside information. There are media reports describing Nenkov as a relative of Lidia Shuleva. Apparently, having a relative in power can be quite the boon. Prokopiev and Nenkov bought almost the entire issue of compensatory notes, for themselves and their clients, at no more than 20 cents on the dollar.

Pardew has also remained silent about the fact that in the last Bulgarian elections the old communists joined forces with the new communists. You will not see him write about the red nomenclature that was catapulted back into Bulgarian politics, part of which is the failed minister of justice Hristo Ivanov. You will not hear calls for lustration or criticism leveled at the totalitarian security services – State Security and the communist military intelligence (Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces) – even though Pardew himself served 27 years as career US army intelligence officer. This is due either to amnesia or the fear of exposing how Prokopiev, an offspring of State Security employees, suddenly became prominent privatisation investor.

To Pardew, the word corruption is like a chewing gum. Not once has he mentioned how the Bulgarian judicial system has been overrun with judges controlled by the oligarchy, led by the head of the Supreme Court of Cassation Lozan Panov, and that the creation of what is effectively a private court started during the cabinet of Ivan Kostov. Pardew has not said a word about the over BGN 12.5m in grants taken by the Bulgarian Judges Association, a big chunk of them coming from Soros’s Open Society.

In his article, Pardew criticises President Donald trump for attacking and demeaning the professional, independent American press. However, he does not say why some media outlets in the US, most of them connected to Soros, dare to spew insinuations against Trump. In Bulgaria, these allegations are picked up by the media in the Soros circle with gusto. Moreover, websites serving the oligarchy like Mediapool, Club Z, OFFNews, Capital and Dnevnik wage a fierce campaign against the Republican Party and President Trump on a daily basis, similar to Pardew. At their core, most media outlets around the world that are tied to Soros are fake news factories. They paint the oligarchs who plunder their own countries as philanthropist and people who can do no wrong. Obviously, Pardew’s opinion piece is the latest mantra that Prokopiev is filtering through a foreign-language media outlet in an attempt to hide behind fake news items. And Pardew will be better served enjoying his retirement instead of opining about the independent media in Bulgaria and certain lawmakers.

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