Alexander Yordanov, MEP (EPP/UDF): What is happening in Bulgaria is not a civil protest, but a coup attempt

Alexander Yordanov, MEP from the European People's Party (EPP), posted on Facebook his position on today's hearing at the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), which acts as an update of the status of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). In his post, Yordanov notes that at an EPP meeting, the party's president, Donald Tusk, stressed the need for showing solidarity with GERB and that the MEPs in attendance who spoke at that event echoed his sentiment.

Here is the entire position of Alexander Yordanov as posted on Facebook:

Full support from EPP for the Bulgarian government

Today (author's note - 9 September) at a meeting of the parliamentary group of the EPP in Brussels, a discussion with the party's president Donald Tusk took place.

Touching on a wide range of issues, central among which were the situation in Belarus and post-Brexit relations with the UK, Mr Tusk drew attention to the situation in Bulgaria, underscoring that the EPP needs to show solidarity with “our friends” from GERB because solidarity is of great significance to the EPP. The floor was then opened to statements and remarks. 

Someone who did not attend the debate was Radan Kanev - the only one in the EPP who would have expressed a dissenting view. His absence can be explained by the fact that the initiative he launched for a European Parliament debate on “the political crisis in Bulgaria” was supported exclusively by EPP opponents - socialists, greens, far-left organisations and leftist liberals. That essentially proved that his self-determination as a “right-wing politician” is nothing but pretence. He is probably feeling guilty.

The EPP lawmakers who took the floor unanimously supported the idea of showing solidarity with the ruling party in Bulgaria. They stressed that regularly scheduled elections are the platform for citizens to show support for political parties. Dr Andrey Kovatchev, Asim Ademov and I were the Bulgarian lawmakers who spoke at the gathering.

Below, I share my remarks. They are a bit lengthy, but MEPs from other states need objective information. Which is why they listened extremely attentively:

Dear President Tusk,

dear Manfred,

dear colleagues,

It is completely within reason for citizens to protest. Such actions prove that Bulgaria has real democracy. But we should seek to answer at least three questions:

The first one is who are the organisers of the protests in the country, because it is clear that we are not dealing with a spontaneous protest movement tackling an issue like the question whether facemasks should be worn during the Covid-19 pandemic or not.

The second one is what the goal of the organisers is.

The third - is the rule of law observed during the protests. 

The answer to the first question is that the protests are organised by political parties not represented in parliament and actively supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, formerly a communist party, which currently has seats in the parliament. Many of the prominent protest organisers and participants come from renowned communist families and others have even been agents or informers for the communist secret police.

The protests are supported by Bulgaria's pro-Russian president, Rumen Radev. His candidacy for head of state received the stamp of approval of Russian foreign intelligence general Leonid Reshetnikov, who last year was banned by the Bulgarian government from entering the country for a period of 10 years due to him presenting a national security risk. The president not only supports the protest, but openly calls for the cabinet to be ousted and the Prosecutor General to resign. In doing so, he violates foundational texts in the Constitution, which stipulate as the president's duty to be a unifying force for the nation and not a divisive one. His actions, throughout his term in office really, but especially in the last couple of months, are an organic fit for the Russian hybrid war against Bulgaria. His aggressive attack on the government started after it signed a contract with the US for the purchase of American-made F-16 fighter planes, which are supposed to replace the Russian MiG aircraft; expelled Russian spies and an influential Russian businessman from the country; and opened an investigation into classified information leak from the Presidency and potential involvement of presidential advisors in “influence peddling”.

Shortly after Mr Radev was elected president, the aforementioned Russian intelligence general said that he will play a “remarkable role” in Bulgaria eventually leaving the EU and NATO. The president's recent actions are proof that this plan is indeed in action. It is shameful that politicians who pose as right-wing in Bulgaria are a part, knowingly or not, of this script. If it is done knowingly, that is really bad, and if it is done unknowingly, it is simply stupid.

The European Commission is aware of the government's achievements - economic and financial stability; effective solutions in the welfare field, which have produced marked increase in incomes across the board. The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU was viewed as a success. Our country was admitted to the so-called waiting room of the Eurozone and the banking union. The government introduced timely mitigation measures to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and Bulgaria avoided the worst of the first wave.

The protest movement in Bulgaria is supported by fugitives, organised crime leaders now hiding abroad. One of them has taken cover in Dubai as he tries to stave off facing the Bulgarian court on numerous charges. During a lawful search of his home, authorities found over 5,000 unregistered antique artefacts, whose undoubtedly high value is still being estimated. He constantly uses social media to call for the protest to be more violent, as every revolution spills blood, in his words. A prominent former banker, who also supports the protest organisers, is hiding from the Bulgarian judicial system in Serbia, a country whose pro-Russian policy is undeniable.

The protest movement is also supported by media outlets whose owners are former State Security agents or have ties to Russian oligarchs, and by journalists and even diplomats who also have affiliations with the former State Security.

For the first time since the country's transition to democracy, the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office undertook decisive and systematic steps against organised crime. Which is why the protest movement started with an attack against the new Prosecutor General. A number of “honest businessmen”, who magically accumulated enormous wealth in a short period of time, are worried, and with good reason, that the court cases against them will end up in convictions. Hence, their reason to support the protests. I can understand them.

There is an obvious answer to the question why Bulgarians for a Strong Bulgaria, the party that used to be led by our colleague Radan Kanev and under his guidance failed to win parliamentary seats in the last general elections, is now involved in the protests. Because it is in coalition with parties that oppose our right-wing political family - the Greens and the leftist liberals of Yes, Bulgaria.

Among protest organisers is also an infamous creator of websites for fake news and disinformation. The protests engage mainly in hate speech.

Esteemed intellectuals, university professors, respected public figures - directors, experienced politicians who were actively involved in the transition to democracy in the 1990s, and political analysts are subjected to constant threats issued by protesters, who even dared to attack world-renowned Bulgarian opera singer Raina Kabaivanska simply because she expressed her bafflement at the president's behaviour.

My answer to the second question - about the goal - is that what we are seeing in Bulgaria is not a protest movement, but an “uprising”, as the organisers term it. Dear colleagues, this is a coup attempt with the assistance of the nation's president.

The answer to the third question is that the organisers of the protests do not abide by the law and conduct their public demonstrations without the necessary permits. In and of itself this fact strips them of any claim on exercising their democratic rights. For weeks, they illegally blocked key crossroads in the capital, set up camps there, obstructed the free movement of citizens and disrupted their regular routines, assaulted people who expressed frustration at their illegal actions, including women.

Among the more striking symbols used by protesters are black coffins and body bags, clearly hinting at taking the mantle of vigilantes, and gallows hung from utility poles. Participants in the protests can often be heard calling for someone's death. The organisers even encouraged people to join what they called Great National September Uprising. It took place on 2 September, when the crowd unsuccessfully tried to storm the National Assembly building - a symbol of democracy. Another “national uprising” is scheduled for today. But in what part of democratic Europe are civil protest called uprisings?

Several days ago, the protest organisers announced that following the success of the “uprising” they will convene a People's Court. A similar court was created in Bulgaria after the country was occupied by the Soviet Army in September 1944. It was an instrument of communist terror. Nearly 3,000 were sentenced to die - the entire Bulgarian elite at the time. Tens of thousands more were thrown in communist concentration camps. That is the kind of symbolism invoked by the people “protesting” on the streets today. Or perhaps that is their understanding of the rule of law principle?

What is happening in Bulgaria is not a civil protest, but a coup attempt through an “uprising” inspired by Moscow. It is far left in character. The issue of corruption is just a cover-up for the real goals of the uprising's organisers - to destabilise the country and steer it back into the Russian orbit of influence, which is the real zone of corruption and mafia.

The government offered a solution to the crisis - holding elections for Great National Assembly, which will have the power to adopt a new Constitution that would get rid of the flaws of the current one, all of them pretty obvious from the moment it was adopted in 1991. In this way, the next parliament, i.e. the Great National Assembly, will have the chance to be a parliament of reforms. Furthermore, the premier said that he is prepared to resign right after the parliament votes on the convening of a Great National Assembly.

There are six months until the regularly scheduled general elections. That is plenty of time for parties to galvanise their electorates and achieve the results they want. But the goal of the “insurrectionists” is for the pro-Russian president to appoint an interim government, which will be tasked with holding snap elections. Under the Constitution, such elections and interim government are measures of last resort, i.e. only after parliament has gone through three unsuccessful rounds of trying to form a government. Therefore, such an endeavour is absolutely pointless, unless there is a secret agenda - like the establishment of a presidential dictatorship once parliament has been dissolved. The president is frantic to take the reins of the country, even if that means an uprising. One of the most recent actions of the “insurrectionists” was to desecrate with red paint and eggs two Christian churches in the capital, one of which dates back to the 11th century.

In conclusion, I would like to note that the rule of law in the EU is not achieved with “uprisings” or revolutions. That was the rule-of-law way in the Soviet Union. This is why I urge all my colleagues to condemn the ongoing revolt against democracy in Bulgaria and the democratically elected institutions there. We should express our deep concern at the attempts for the country to be destabilised. Because this so-called uprising is not a peaceful means to a democratic end. The protests in Bulgaria have nothing to do with protecting civil rights and liberties or with European democratic values. This is a war on the rule of law and the democratic state.

 

Alexander Yordanov is a Bulgarian politician and diplomat. He served as MP and Speaker of the National Assembly between 1992 and 1994. He also served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bulgaria to Poland (1998-2001) and North Macedonia (2001-2005). In 2019 he was elected MEP from the Union of Democratic Forces (Bulgaria), part of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats).

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