Capital Film Studio presents: Lords of Junk in smear attack against Delyan Peevski

Defendant Bobokov brothers spew lies, indicted Prokopiev gives them platform

The Capital Film Studio has released the latest installment in its fake-news soap opera Lords of Junk, which has been force-fed to its audience for years. The goal of the series is always the same – to take a swipe at enemy №1 of the behind-the-scenes clique Delyan Peevski, who earned that distinction with his legislative initiatives and his publications’ consistent policy of exposing the shady deals of the oligarchs defrauding the Bulgarian public. The series is the work of indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, who uses the same formula, the same lies. Only the actors change.

New addition to the cast becomes any “serious businessman” who has come under the scrutiny of the judicial system because of his crimes. In exchange for his participation in the series, the Capital Film Studio offers a VIP service – cleaning his image with a media strategy that casts him as a victim of a “corporate raid”. But this premise has become so hackneyed because of the constant retread of the same lies that it is starting to smack of black comedy, whose ratings show the public has discarded it. The figurative public trash bin is also the right place for this abomination’s producers and actors.

The first episode of the series came out as early as 2016, when Prokopiev signaled his alliance with fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, indicted for syphoning off billions from CorpBank, with an interview. The second episode came early in 2020, when the indicted kaolin king from Razgrad, aka Prokopiev, just as publicly and aggressively put his mainstream media machine to work in defence of the gambling tzar and fugitive with 19 felony charges Vasil Bozhkov. And then this past Wednesday Prokopiev embraced the latest oligarchs to run afoul of the law – the Bobokov brothers, Plamen and Atanas. Family friends of Bozhkov, they have also been known to have close ties with Vassilev.

Another interview marked this latest dirty deal, which carries the stench of the tonnes of trash that have been poisoning the environment and the health of Bulgarians for years. Actually, it was two interviews, both given by Plamen Bobokov, the younger of the two brothers from Rousse and the only one currently free after posting bail. The interviews were published on the same day by the main megaphones of Ivo Prokopiev’s machine for libel, lies and compromising fake allegations – the website Dnevnik and the Bulgarian desk of Radio Free Europe (See here), the latter of which has been infested with former Prokopiev employees. That happened just hours before the release of the first annual report on rule of law in EU Member States. This move is not a coincidence and it serves solely the interests of the oligarchy in Bulgaria, i.e. to sow doubt in Brussels as regards anti-crime efforts in the country so that the oligarchs can escape retribution for their crimes – robbing Bulgarians’ money and health for decades.

In the aforementioned interviews, Bobokov, who together with his brother Atanas and nine other people is a defendant in an illegal waste storage case, and has a separate charge of influence peddling, is using a trick that has become all too familiar for Bulgarian oligarchs in legal trouble – he tries to gloss over the crimes he has been investigated for by playing the victim of someone else’s attempt to steal his business.

As has become tradition for the behind-the-scenes clique, he attacks enemy №1 of said clique – lawmaker Delyan Peevski. The blatant lie he uses in his Dnevnik interview is that the brothers were “singled out” by Peevski for an attack by the Prosecutor’s Office because “he wanted to steal Monbat” (editor’s note – the Bobokov brothers’ company), having taken over its main competitor in lead scrap recycling, Elbat. This claim is not rooted in facts, as Peevski has never had anything to do with this industry, let alone the company cited. But the indicted and charged oligarchs have never allowed the truth to get in the way of their fabrications. And so in his conversation with the Bulgarian desk of Radio Free Europe, the younger Bobokov brother let his imagination run even wilder, while the interviewer, a former employee of Mediapool, a website with affiliations to Ivo Prokopiev, published his allegations without fact-checking them. The Rousse businessman even said that the lawmaker inspected the construction of a new Elbat facility on site.

What is the truth? Even the simplest check with the country’s public registers shows not only that every single word of Bobokov is a lie but that his claims are contradictory and often mutually exclusive.

Elbat, which is located in Dolna Banya, has pretty transparent ownership, which has not changed for years. The company is 99% owned by Bulmet, which is solely owned by an individual named Dimitar Popov, and 1% owned by another businessman – Nikolay Bazhlekov. Our team made several attempts to contact and ask Popov to comment Bobokov’s claims, but his office responded that they cannot get in touch with him. While we await response from Popov, another simple check reveals that Elbat is also currently being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. This has been confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Water. In response to our questions as to whether the operations of Elbat have been inspected, the ministry denied to comment on the grounds that there is an ongoing investigation. This runs contrary to and debunks Bobokov’s attempts to make it seem like the probe against him, his brother and nine other people, including former deputy minister of environment Krasimir Zhivkov, is an attack designed to take his business away from him. Because both Monbat and Elbat, which was personally mentioned by the Rousse businessman, are under investigation and the subject of inspections.

Not to mention that a June piece by another prominent megaphone of Prokopiev’s libel machine, i.e. the flagship Capital, revealed that the incumbent manager of business development at Elbat Vasil Bozhdanov is a key witness in the case against the Rousse Lords of Junk as well as a long-time former employee of theirs. He was with them for about 20 years, ten of which he spent as executive director of Monbat Recycling. He resigned the position in August 2019. This helps answer the question about the source of the revelations against the Bobokov brothers. Obviously, it is a person who until recently was a part of their inner circle.

The facts also show the lie in another insinuation made by Bobokov, who, completely in the spirit of the saying about the thief crying catch the thief, pinned on Delyan Peevski imaginary ties with the Prosecutor’s Office and the executive branch of power. Peevski has nothing to do with the executive branch of power or the Prosecutor’s Office. On the contrary, a year ago a district prosecutor committed an unprecedented act of censorship by ordering the Patent Office to erase the trademark of the country’s largest newspaper – Telegraph, which is a part of Delyan Peevski’s media group. By contrast, Bobokov was revealed to be at the center of an entire network of behind-the-scenes dependencies, including serious ties with members of the cabinet, the presidential administration and the Prosecutor’s Office. He currently stands accused of influence peddling in a case that also involves Plamen Uzunov, presidential advisor and former interim head of the Ministry of Interior, as well as Nikolay Nikolov, former district prosecutor of Rousse. As part of the investigation a whole series of text messages was disclosed, showing Bobokov’s blatant attempts to insert people as public officials, including in Bulgarian embassies. The incumbent Vice-PM Krasimir Karakachanov turned out to be his best man and godfather of his three kids. Here is another telling fact – prosecutors from three countries are engaged in the investigation into the Bobokov brothers as officials from Romania and Italy are also looking into their scheme. Media reports suggest that the information that led to the unravelling of the network created by the Lords of Junk first started trickling out of Italy.

Considering these facts, it is more than clear that the interviews are the latest installment in a series that we have been watching for years. In it, the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev lends the platform of his media outlets to every Bulgarian oligarch cornered by the judicial system. The goal is always the same – to attack the person who has become a thorn in the side of the behind-the-scenes clique because of his legislative initiatives and the editorial policy of his outlets to expose the schemes defrauding the Bulgarian public. This is why the template used by the oligarchic clique is also the same. The only innovation is that Bobokov’s inspiration for acting the victim of a heist probably comes from the fact that his artistic better half, Hristina, was taken away from him at least twice. One of the culprits was an oligarchic fellow of Bobokov.

They say history repeats itself once as a tragedy and then as a farce. In the case of the insinuations spread by the Vassilev-Bozhkov-Prokopiev axis, we are seeing the manifestation of a pathological black comedy. The scripts with which, for years, they have been trying to deceive the public both in Bulgarian and abroad in order to present an image as honest businessmen despite their extremely dirty record may sound varied, but they follow the same formula. The common denominator between all the episodes in this soap opera intended to paint the oligarchs as victims is the indicted boss Ivo Prokopiev. He puts his mainstream media machine in service of every indicted or charged oligarch with the sole purpose of defaming the behind-the-scenes clique’s common enemy, Delyan Peevski. And so the kaolin king’s libel machine has long become a tool in the hands of people who have stolen billions from the Bulgarian people, even though the same outlets may have slammed those people before, once again at Prokopiev’s orders.

The first such example, and a pretty emblematic one at that, is fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, with whom Prokopiev joined forces in 2016 even though Capital was the outlet to first reveal details about the shady deals of the person who syphoned off billions from CorpBank before fleeing to Serbia, where he is hiding to this day. Vassilev himself, who is being tried in absentia, is desperately trying to pose as a victim of a “corporate raid” and even filed a claim under the Global Magnitsky Act. That move was unsuccessful as his smokescreen of lies was exposed by the avalanche of evidence against him.

Similarly to Tsvetan Vassilev, in early 2020 the Bobokov brothers’ family friend Vasil Bozhkov, aka The Skull, tried to pass as a victim of someone’s attempts to steal his business. Just like Vassilev, Bozhkov bombarded the public consciousness with lies and libels that were in contradiction with all the evidence that has emerged in the cases against him so far, but nevertheless disseminated by Prokopiev’s mainstream media machine.

The fabrication template of Prokopiev’s outlets got significantly upgraded in the middle of this year when the so-called Anti-Corruption Fund, which is affiliated with Prokopiev, presented an “investigation” that tried to cast another fugitive businessman hiding abroad, elevator king Ilia Zlatanov, as “victim of Peevski”. According to the conspiracy theory spread by Zlatanov (See here), the lawmaker wanted to take his business because of some imaginary €4bn of EU funding earmarked for the industry. No facts were presented in support of those claims. Zlatanov himself floated them as something he had heard. Meanwhile, the sector knows nothing about an expected tranche of EU funds for the replacement of old elevators, let alone a €4bn one! Peevski has nothing to do with the elevator business, while his companies and media outlets have never used EU funds or other types of pubic financial resources. But that has not stopped Prokopiev’s mainstream machine from spewing fabrications in bulk. Just like it is doing now in the case of Bobokov.

In a similar fashion, a different falsehood was attached to the lawmaker and then promptly crumbled under the weight of evidence – namely, that the inspections in Hippoland were “ordered” by Peevski because he was supposedly eyeing the business. The fabrication perpetuated by Prokopiev’s personal cheerleaders from his GMO political party Yes, Bulgaria – Hristo Ivanov and Ivo Mirchev – was rejected by the owner of Hippoland Marian Kolev (See here). “It’s not true,” he said, denying the allegations that Peevski asked him to give up his business, in consecutive interviews with bTV and kmeta.bg. He also said that he did not even personally know the lawmaker. And yet Prokopiev’s mainstream media machine and his cheerleaders, Hristo Ivanov and Ivo Mirchev, kept repeating the lie in the hope that people will eventually buy it thanks to the propaganda principle of repetition.

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