Geshev: Prosecution service subjected to unprecedented political-partisan pressure by president

It is time for the oligarchs to go to prison, the Prosecutor General is adamant

It is time not only ordinary Bulgarians to go to prisons, but also the oligarchs. They plundered several generations. The President Rumen Radev allies with the darkness and with other politicians who plundered the Bulgarian people, the Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev stated during an extraordinary briefing.

We work only with evidence, Geshev added. According to him, it is not a problem for the Prosecutor's Office to investigate ministers, mayors and oligarchs. That is the reason for this unprecedented political pressure on us, Geshev stressed.

The Prosecutor General made a special statement at the Palace of Justice, in the presence of heads of prosecution services from across the country, members of the Association of Public Prosecutors and Judges’ College at the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). Here is the whole statement of the Prosecutor General:

Here with me are my deputies, members of the Judges’ College, administrative heads of prosecution services - Appellate, District and Regional Prosecutor's Offices from all over the country, members of the Management Boards of the Association of Public Prosecutors and the Chamber of Investigators in the Republic of Bulgaria.

We are not here because of the personal attacks against individual magistrates or against the Prosecutor General. We accept it as a part of our job. We are here because the Institution - the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, has been subjected to an unprecedented political - partisan pressure by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria and by the political formations which are serving him. Radev should embody the unity of our nation. I say Radev, because when he joined the BSP with Mrs Kornelia Ninova, Yes, Bulgaria, DSB, ABC, the Bulgarian Euro-Left, Movement 21, Maya Manolova, as the latter has not yet formed a party, Radev turned to an ordinary Bulgarian politician from the transition to democracy period.

We are here to say that Bulgarian prosecutors, investigators and court officials are proud to work for Bulgarian citizens, not for those who have merged with the political mafia and oligarchy, which makes us the poorest country in the EU.

We are here to say that we will continue to work in the same manner, because the future of our children and our homeland are at stake. We will not be stopped by the billions of oligarchs invested in the media and in politicians, or even threats against prosecutors and their families.

We are here to say also that the Prosecutor's Office is different now and the time of double standards is over! It is time, not only poor Bulgarian citizens to go to prison, but also the oligarchs and politicians who plundered them. They plundered the life and future of a whole generation of Bulgarians.

We are here to say that we respect the Bulgarian institutions, but we will not allow, by destroying the statehood and attacking the Prosecutor's Office, political careers and projects to be build, by Radev included.

Yesterday, the "unifier of the nation" Mr Radev said in essence, that the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office is a mafia?! It is something that even the privatiser of Bulgaria Ivan Kostov could not afford. What we are telling him now is that he is obviously talking about light, but he allies with the darkness, with people like the Skull and other Bulgarian oligarchs and corrupt politicians, who have plundered our people! This is his personal choice.

The Prosecutor’s Office does not pronounce sentences, the sentences are determined by the independent Bulgarian court, which must also assume its responsibility, the same way as the prosecution assumes its own. We are working with evidence and it is not a staffing problem of the prosecution that Plamen Uzunov, a former caretaker interior minister and a president's secretary for legal affairs and anti-corruption, receives unsigned rulings of the Supreme Administrative Court before they have been published; that he is trying to assist in obtaining a Bulgarian passport from a Russian citizen, who poses a threat to our national security, according to the State Agency for National Security; that he assists in the erasure of criminal registration of another foreign citizen, as well as for conclusion of a consulting contract for BGN 5,000 per month with his brother's company, which money are paid by another company, belonging to the accused Bobokovi family.

It is not our staffing problem that the President's Adviser on Security and Defense Milushev receives documents stamped under the Law on the Protection of Classified Information, revealed illegally by the State Intelligence Agency, as the same are classified as a "state secret", as well as people are placed under threat, who are working for the national security of Bulgaria. The fact that the adviser Milushev have said in an initial interrogation that he had informed the Bulgarian President about these documents, and later he explained in court that he was mistaken, was not invented by the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office. The only thing the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office is interested in this case is the presence or absence of evidence of committed crimes, including those affecting the national security. I will not comment on the five cartons with documents found during a search of the home of a former head of Archives Department of the Ministry of Interior yesterday, also containing classified materials, including the markings "Top Secret" and "Top Secret of Special Importance". I can assure the Bulgarian society that it will become familiar with all the information about these cases, whose disclosure would not impede the investigation.

Mr Radev, I am not addressing him deliberately as President Radev, have to give a clear answer to the Bulgarian society – did he know about all these circumstances. Does he want light or darkness in the presidential institution? As well as to indicate, if he wishes, where in the Constitution and in the laws of our state immunity from criminal prosecution for crimes committed by employees of the president’ administration is regulated. The only one person in the country, immune from justice according to the Constitution is the president. Therefore, we will wait for and respect the decision of the Constitutional Court on our request about his immunity. Depending on that, we are also ready to wait for the expiration of his term, in order to establish the truth, including about the case in which everyone most likely heard his voice - to influence the concealment of an investigation against his wife by the Anti-Corruption Commission. I would also like to ask a question here - what would have happened if this was the case in France? What happened to a leading candidate for president in France just because he had hired his wife? Didn’t he receive a 5-year sentence and how would this fact be commented in Bulgaria? The answer to this question is clear, it is enough to go back and see the comments related even only to the question of the Prosecutor General to the Constitutional Court. The comments of dependent media and NGOs.

As I said, we operate based on evidence, we have no problem bringing criminal charges against people and we do this in an unprecedented fashion since 1989 – active ministers, lawmakers, mayors, oligarchs – which is the reason why we are now subjected to this unprecedented political attack. To us, no one is untouchable, whether we are talking about Peevski, Dogan, Borissov, Radev, after the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling, or a low-level civil servant at the presidential administration. What should be noted is that the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office, or any of its EU counterparts, for that matter, does not and will not takes its cue on indicting from politicians, oligarchs or NGOs and media outlets affiliated with them. The Prosecutor’s Office works solely on the basis of available evidence that a crime has been committed. Every Bulgarian citizen, including affluent ones, have no reason to worry as long as they obey the law and pay their taxes, which is what the majority of Bulgarians do. Reason to worry have those who poison our children with lead and the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office is not the one communicating with them.

Let us remind that this is a parliamentary republic and we do not have a royal family; we are citizens, not subjects, and when we act in the best interest of the Bulgarian public we do not consider the possible political ramifications or any statements politicians might make. I say that in connection to the lies that have been spread by the anarchist-liberal media supporting Radev – namely, that our actions at the president’s headquarters were spurred by comments he made. I repeat, these are lies! The search warrants issued by the court are dated 5 and 7 July, respectively. The investigations have been ongoing for months and Radev should have been briefed on these circumstances by his advisors and secretaries. I would love for the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office to be able to organise such large-scale operations across the country, but we lack the legal or operational capability to do that in such a short period of time.     

The assertion that the Prosecutor’s Office’s actions constituted political repression is an old refrain from the Kostov era. The new wrinkle is the claim that the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office is a mafia! It is unacceptable for a head of state to hurl such an allegation, which is not only a lie, but erodes the image of the entire country and amounts to violation of the independence of the judicial branch of power. What exactly makes us a mafia?! Is it the fact that we stopped phone scams or that “untouchable” billionaires are either hiding abroad or are in police custody or perhaps it is that we have arrested active ministers and their deputies, mayors incriminated in corruption, heads of state agencies, the most senior police chiefs, who failed to do their job and combat drug trafficking, and many others? I am sure that that is not what the president meant. He was referring to routine actions carried out as part of an investigation into certain presidential staffers. And staffers who take deliberate steeps to prevent investigators from getting to the objective truth and obstruct justice, no less. So the minister of environment and water getting escorted out of the department’s building and taken into custody was not deemed political repression on the part of the Prosecutor’s Office, but now that Radev’s staffers are on the wrong side of this equation, the repression label is thrown around.

I meet regular folks almost every day, certainly every week, I see their problems and I know what they want. They want justice and security for themselves and their children as well as their property. They want corrupt politicians and oligarchs in jail, not just the wrongdoers on social benefits.

As long as I am prosecutor general, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office will remain determined to achieve this goal of fairness through justice. Justice Bulgarian citizens deserve! We are on the side of regular Bulgarians against the political mafia and the oligarchs, who are destroying the future of our kids and grandkids. We are not dependent on anyone, be it Borissov, Dogan, Peevski, Radev or anyone else.

We are only guided by the law, Bulgarian citizens and the interests of our homeland. How are we dependent?! Is it the fact that an investigation is being launched into possible illegal construction on the territory of Vitosha Nature Park, where Peevski, Bozhkov, an individual known in the media as “the Wolf”, and so many others own property?! Or does this impression of dependence come from the fact that the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office launched an inquiry into possible illegal construction along the entire coastline. The probe also includes inspection of the luxury residence in the Rosenets Park known as “the palace”, the oil port in that same park, and possible illegal felling and construction by the Dinev brothers in protected areas. Or maybe we are viewed as dependent because we are fighting the so-called reinforcement wall/ hotel in Alepu or because we are about to look into landscaping and environmental destruction in Sofia?

The fact that we are being attacked by politicians from the entire political spectrum, oligarchs and all sorts of other people means only one thing – the Prosecutor’s Office is finally striving to meet the citizens’ expectations for fairness and rule of law. As long as I am prosecutor general, the only thing of importance to the Prosecutor’s Office is to ensure that laws are enforced with equal force for everyone, I repeat everyone, and that regular citizens, not the political mafia or the oligarchs, are protected.

Because of all of this, we are going to inform our European partners at the European Commission, the European Parliament and embassies of EU Member States in Sofia of the unprecedented political pressure exerted on and outright attempts to destroy the independence of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office! This attack against the judicial branch of power is an attack against the rule of law, which is the principle undergirding the EU.

Let me conclude by saying that I am proud to be the prosecutor general of the Republic of Bulgaria, I am proud of my fellow magistrates and the judicial system personnel who are protecting the Bulgarian society and citizens at the cost of their own safety. I am honoured to be one of them! 

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