Prokopiev captures Strasbourg Court through strawman

This judge is the main conduit for the oligarchy’s attempts to tie the hands of prosecutors

Tsvetan Vassilev, Ivo Prokopiev, Sasho Donchev and Ognyan Donev

Indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev is on his way to gaining control of the decision-making process at the Strasbourg Court after one of the most loyal, prominent and well-paid puppets of the Bulgarian oligarchy in the European institutions, the scandalous representative of our country in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Yonko Grozev, got himself a top position there. On 24 April he was elected to head one of the five ECHR sections, making him part of the management of the institution – the so-called Grand Chamber.

The announcement of his election was posted in the last hours of 24 April, but Grozev’s mentors in Bulgaria must have known in advance because Capital, the flagship outlet of the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, reported it almost immediately. The speed with which the megaphone of the oligarchy’s media machine for libel and fabrications spread the news is far from surprising considering the fact that the Bulgarian representative in the Strasbourg Court has always protected not the interests of his country, but those of his mentors – something that has been public secret for years. And more specifically, the interests of Prokopiev, part of whose close circle Grozev has been for years, and of billionaire speculator George Soros, as part of the financier’s network for pressuring EU Member States.

This development is the latest proof of the judge’s heavy dependencies. Moreover, for the behind-the-scenes clique in Bulgaria Grozev’s appointment is like killing two birds with one stone – it is a reward for his loyal service and turns him into a conduit for Prokopiev’s attempts to influence the ECHR and use the court as instrument in his bids to push through lobbyist legislative changes aimed at restricting the independence of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office.

What is absurd is that the news of the election comes as nearly 18,000 people from all over Europe have signed a petition insisting that ECHR recuses judges incriminated in serous conflict of interests, with Grozev high on the list of names. The petition was prompted by an in-depth study prepared by the European Centre for Law and Justice, which warned that the court has been ensnared by billionaire George Soros’s network for applying pressure on EU Member States. Yonko Grozev was among those named as conduits of the interests of the billionaire of Hungarian descent. The French NGO published a study showing that 22 of a total of 100 ECHR judges in the past 10 years came from NGOs linked to George Soros and did not have any experience as magistrates prior to joining the court. Dozens of cases of conflict of interests involving these judges are exposed. Grozev is among the leaders in this regard, and keeping him company in this dubious honour is the country’s previous representative in the ECHR, Zdravka Kalaydjieva. She sat in 12 cases the legal proceedings for which were launched by Soros-affiliated NGOs even though she had ties to at least two organisations of the billionaire in the country – the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and Open Society. Six such cases were established for Grozev. With him, an aggravating factor is the fact that prior to joining the ECHR, he appeared before the court as attorney representing the BHC, whose co-founder he is, as a claimant.

The report is the result of an in-depth study conducted by two experts of the French NGO over a period of six months and backed by dozens of concrete facts pointing to what we are now clearly seeing – that the ECHR has been turned into an instrument serving the interests of Soros. And yet, Ivo Prokpiev’s libel machine in Bulgaria tried to minimise both the criticism leveled in the document and the calls of thousands of European citizens for the court to be reformed. The media outlets in the so-called Capital circle and those of the other leaders of the Bulgarian oligarchy – Tsvetan Vassilev, Sasho Donchev and Ognyan Donev – reached such heights in their effort to make the report out to be malicious that they even painted it as a sinister plan to sully the reputations of Grozev and Kalaydjieva. Against this backdrop, it comes as no surprise that in its article about Grozev’s high-ranking ECHR appointment Capital drops the name of lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher Delyan Peevski. It describes the conclusions in the report as “ridiculous stirring-up of intrigue” published by “pro-government and pro-prosecutorial media outlets in his circle”. The media outlets in question are not named, but the members of Delyan Peevski’s media group are public knowledge and easy to identify through the national registers – a total of six publications, including two national daily newspapers, Monitor and Telegraph. The assertion itself is ridiculous – and not just because of the massive EU outcry caused by the report, which was even included on the European Parliament’s agenda. It also betrays the impotence of the article’s authors, or should we say their boss, who formulated the talking points that underpinned it. These talking points are not supported by any facts, even worse – there is clear evidence disproving them. None other than one of the newspapers published by Delyan Peevski – the best-selling Bulgarian daily, Telegraph – was victim of a staggering example of arbitrary action by prosecutors and censorship. A prosecutor from the Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office ordered that the Telegraph trademark be erased by the Patent Office – an unprecedented act in the modern history of the country. In and of itself, that incident destroys any assertions about “pro-prosecutorial” policy of the Telegraph Media publications.

But when your mode of operation is to spread lies someone fed you via email, you cannot be expected to all of a sudden base your stories on facts and the truth. That is not what the Capital circle media is paid to do – something that has been exposed hundreds of times by the Telegraph Media publications over the years. This makes both the media group and its publisher inconvenient for the oligarchy and the main target for the slings of the Fake News Factory, which bombards the public consciousness in Bulgaria with ridiculous manipulations on the propaganda principle that you repeat something until readers finally believe it despite all evidence to the contrary.      

What is the ludicrous "Ode to Joy", published by Capital, really due to? The explanation is rooted in one of the most revealing cases of conflict of interest, described by the experts from the French NGO -  "The Kolevs vs Bulgaria" case, which actually shoots Grozev's career in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In the ruling on the case, the Strasbourg Court noted that there were no effective mechanisms in Bulgaria for the investigation of a prosecutor. The lawsuit was brought against our country at the beginning of the century, among the claimants is precisely our current representative in the institution, who then represents the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC). The ruling on the case was pronounced in 2009 by a panel whose member is Bulgaria’s former representative in Strasbourg – Zdravka Kalaydzhieva. Although the case was closed more than 10 years ago, it is now a key instrument for the attempts of Prokopiev and his oligarch cronies to evade retribution for their crimes tying the hands of the prosecution. Thus, using  "The Kolevs vs Bulgaria" case, last year Grozev showed up in Bulgaria, together with representatives of the PACE, to insist on lobbying legislative amendments that would limit the independence of the prosecution and make the judges even more untouchable. The PACE reps even threatened the government that Bulgaria would be declared a country violating the rule of law. It is because of this pressure that the cabinet proposed an amendment, according to which an independent prosecutor can investigate the No.1 Prosecutor and the case is currently in the hands of the constitutional judges.  And while the oligarchy exerts external pressure through Grozev and the Strasbourg Court for its adoption, it also works internally through the NGO of Kalaydzhieva "Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights". Nearly two months ago, the NGO in question sent an unsolicited opinion to the Constitutional Court with a proposal for constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening the judicial immunity at the expense of drastic limitation of the prosecution’s authorities.  And when the media defending the interests of society and the principles of fair journalism, not the oligarchic factory for manipulation, warned that letting lawyers make proposals for the judiciary is like setting the wolf to keep the sheep, they were attacked by the BHC.  The same committee, which helped one of the mouthpieces of the judicial guild servicing the behind-the-scenes clique in the country – the magistrate of the Appellate Court Kalin Kalpakchiev, granted parole to murderer Jock Palfreeman. The latter is, moreover, a clear example of the harm inflicted by the puppets of the indicted oligarchs, such as Ivo Prokopiev, to the courts at home and abroad and to the interests of society.  Because it is not the interests of society that these people defend, but of their mentors, as they have spent their whole lives latched on their teat and will continue to be sponging on them. And what are the interests of the mentors in question we also know – to escape from the retribution for their crimes, to lay their hands again on the state teat, drain our money for their businesses and to keep society captive in their manipulations and lies.

 

Pinocchio himself shoots Grozev to Strasbourg

It is precisely in order to use the "Kolevs vs Bulgaria" case, initiated by Grozev himself to serve the interests of his puppet master Prokopiev, that Grozev was launched to the court in Strasbourg, and the post was given to him thanks to not anyone else but the failed justice minister and current leader of the by oligarchic party Yes, Bulgaria Hristo Ivanov, also known by nickname Pinocchio. This happened in 2014, when Kalaydzhieva resigned from the post before time.  At that time the presence of Zdravka Kalaydzhieva as a Bulgarian judge of the ECHR seriously disturbed the institution, and in 2009 the Ministry of Justice was even asked to designate an ad hoc judge to replace her in cases where there was a conflict of interest. For such was appointed Pavlina Panova, at that time a vice president of the Supreme Court of Cassation, and now a constitutional judge. While her tenure was to expire in 2018, Kalaydzhieva surprisingly terminated it in 2014. It is important to note that this happens shortly after in August of the same year Hristo Ivanov first assumes the post of Minister of Justice and then remains as a holder. What happened by the end of 2014 and at the beginning of 2015 will show that the resignation of Kalaydzhieva was actually agreed in advance so that the "appropriate" candidate could be installed on this place. The role of the Minister of Justice in electing a Bulgarian judge is essential because he approves a special committee and then defends the candidature before the Government and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is more than outrageous that Hristo Ivanov appointed as a member of the committee, which chooses Yonko Grozev for a Bulgarian judge in Strasbourg, the chairman of the BHC Krasimir Kanev. Moreover, at that time it was already publicly known that Yonko Grozev and Krassimir Kanev were the founders of the organization in the early 1990s. However, the candidature of Grozev passes quickly through the Council of Ministers, which happens in the beginning of 2015, i.e. in the first months of the coalition government between GERB and the Reformist Block, part of which is the party of Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria for Citizens. A curious moment is that in 2013 the Vice-President of the party was namely Yonko Grozev.

 

Danail Kirilov: We fell so far that French colleagues tell us what the situation is

"We have fallen so far that this time our French colleagues tell us what the situation in Bulgaria is." With these words, Minister of Justice Danail Kirilov commented a few weeks ago the revelations of the French NGOs. He said, however, that there was no mechanism at the time that our country could use to remove Grozev from his post. In the words of Kirilov, if there is a revocation or termination of the mandate, it should be carried out only by the judges of the ECHR. This could be done by a qualified majority of 2/3 of the entire chamber of the court. Then Kirilov expressed hope that this could happen because the report showed that only 22 out of the 100 judges in the last 10 years were linked to Soros. To date, however, against the backdrop of the election of Grozev as head of one of the sections, it is evident that the influence of the billionaire speculator and his followers in different EU countries is far greater.

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