Pinocchio sees shadows and fake news disparaging Delyan Peevski

Indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev uses Hristo Ivanov as a puppet

Hristo Ivanov

Strawman party leader and failed former justice minister Hristo Ivanov slithered into the sun and tried to wave the protesters’ flag using the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) as a means to an end. Alas, he was unsuccessful as he apparently sees shadows everywhere and gets pretty agitated over it.

Perhaps it is that state of mind that caused him to stand outside the BNT building and get tangled up in his own attempt to please his boss – indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev. He tried to push the old and hackneyed fake news that the BNT is covering only the viewpoint of lawmaker Delyan Peevski. However, he failed to mention that the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and the BNT have been captured by the protesters, that the mainstream media machine of Prokopiev has become so filthy rich that it is looking for more places to spend its advertisement and protests budget after completely taking over bTV (aka Bozhkov TV). Perhaps Prokopiev is trying to seize control of BNT content as well.

Ivanov also took to Facebook to repeat the oligarchy’s old talking point that the lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher has three ministers in PM Boyko Borissov’s cabinet and the premier is turning into a puppet of his. Only Ivanov forgot to mention that not Peevski but rather his own mentor, Ivo Prokopiev, was the one who had a whopping number of four ministers in Borissov’s second cabinet. – Ivanov himself, Traycho Traykov, Simeon Djankov, and Rumyana Bachvarova, who is now an ambassador to Israel.

We should not be surprised that Ivanov is now playing the role of political scarecrow trying to intimidate the government, the Prosecutor’s Office and anyone else who the oligarchy deems inconvenient. He is happy to parrot lines uttered by President Rumen Radev, who in turn got them from Ivo Prokopiev, with the sole purpose of promoting his candidacy for interim prime minister in the event that the incumbent government is ousted.

Ivanov, who hails from a communist family, is no different from the oligarchic clique he belongs to. He, too, is of a communist descent – his grandfather was closely connected to the Soviet intelligence apparatus in Berlin, while his grandmother left the USSR and came to Bulgaria in a Soviet Army uniform. Perhaps Ivanov got his penchant for Bolshevik revolutions and attacks from his grandparents. We saw this manifest in early July when he disembarked from a rubber boat straight onto the beach near Rosenets and proceeded to try and blow up ethnical peace in Bulgaria, which thankfully did not work.

Ivanov has a great affinity for utilising grant funding, especially money coming from abroad. He also made an appearance at the Sofia rally in support of the president, proving that he is a rightwing grant-funded baron who is really leftwing at his core. The direct link between the former justice minister and indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev was confirmed by the shorthand records of the behind-the-scenes secret meeting known as ARGO-gate, in which the two were key participants. At the gathering, during a discussion about the potential presidential candidacy of Lozan Panov, head of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Ivanov reportedly said that the wife of Bulgaria’s top judge was a “black swan”. Later it emerged that Elisaveta Panova had a criminal record.

There is also a direct corporate link that runs through the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BILI), whose programme manager was Hristo Ivanov right up until he was appointed justice minister. The executive director of BILI, legal practitioner Bilyana Stefanova Gyaurova-Wegertseder, is now Ivanov’s right hand. Furthermore, Hristo and Bilyana used to be partners at the Bili Consulting firm whose scope of business activity includes “consultancy services and acquisitions of enterprises or parts of them”. Wegertseder’s brother, Angel Stefanov Gyaurov, is also a legal practitioner. He has ties to the Alfa Finance Holding of kaolin king Ivo Prokopiev, which holds 50% of the shares of Sofstroy. The other shareholder is Balto-Slavic Ventures Ltd., a company incorporated in Malta and represented by Angel Gyaurov.

Ivanov is directly tied to this so-called Capital circle (named after Ivo Prokopiev’s weekly) and a member of Protest Network, which is also affiliated with Prokopiev. Similar to Capital’s boss, who was evasive about his involvement with Yes, Bulgaria, Ivanov insists that he is not a Protest Network member, just knows some of the people in it. These days, Ivanov is a co-chairman of the new political organisation Democratic Bulgaria, which was formed with the merger of Yes, Bulgaria, created by former PM Ivan Kostov through political engineering, and the Commander’s older party – Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB). Just like Prokopiev, the Commander denied any involvement with the new project. However, last August Kostov betrayed his status of an active political player, which runs contrary to the image of a secluded scholar he portrays. In an interview for bTV he let it slip that he stood behind Democratic Bulgaria. He immediately tried to cover up his blunder by saying that he was just a regular voter supporting it.

During his time in the Council of Ministers, Hristo Ivanov, in his capacity as justice minister, was responsible for a series of scandals and was dubbed Pinocchio because of his ceaseless lying. It turned out that his right to serve as an attorney was suspended and that four official documents had different versions of his signature. With his blessing, a computer system for random assignment of cases was introduced and promptly turned out to be extremely vulnerable to outside interference, to the point that an eight-grader could get into it and steer a case toward a particular panel of judges. Ivanov’s term in office will also be remembered with an attempt at a judicial reform that aimed to subjugate the Prosecutor’s Office to the executive branch of power. These efforts of his were aided by Judge Kalin Kalpakchiev, a member of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) at the time. Kalpakchiev is now a head of the grant-funded Union of Bulgarian Judges (UBJ) and following his departure from the SJC got a cushy job at the Court of Appeals. The magistrate scandalised the Bulgarian public after granting convicted murderer Jock Palfreeman early release. Now he is conveniently forgetting that the incumbent prosecutor general he is currently trying to oust was appointed under his rules.

It also emerged that Hristo Ivanov, who is the oligarchy’s puppet, took nearly BGN 1m in party donations and has already spent almost all of it, according to Yes, Bulgaria’s filing with the National Audit Office. Where do donations to Yes, Bulgaria come from? Essentially from its own circle’s pockets. For example, on 23 March 2017, three days before election day, the party received a donation from Rositsa Dimcheva Doneva – the wife of indicted oligarch Ognyan Donev. A report by the Institute for Public Environment Development, an organisation ran by another prominent protester, Antoaneta Tsoneva, sheds light on the money parties spent on media coverage for their respective campaigns. The report shows that Yes, Bulgaria paid Donev’s news website Club Z BGN 5,000. Such level of duplicity and cynicism is truly astounding.

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