Scandal! Failed politician to help with monitoring for Bulgaria

Hristo Ivanov

The Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BILI), an NGO of the failed former justice minister Hristo Ivanov, has wormed its way into the new Civil Council tasked with assisting with the monitoring of Bulgaria following the end of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) which the EU used to follow the country’s progress in the fields of judicial reform and home affairs.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday the Ministry of Justice held a drawing of lots to select a name from a list of non-governmental organisations with judicial reform experience and employer organisations who applied for membership in the Civil Council with the Coordination and Cooperation Council.

For years, Hristo Ivanov has been working to preserve the monitoring mechanism for Bulgaria in place as an instrument for exerting pressure on the government in favour of the oligarchic interest he serves. Ivanov is a product of the two indicted oligarchs Tsvetan Vassilev and Ivo Prokopiev (See here) and their mentor, former PM Ivan Kostov. After failing as a justice minister, Ivanov was handed a political project to head and use against the state. However, said party, Yes, Bulgaria, was a fiasco at the lone general elections in which it participated, winning far less than the 4% of votes required to gain entry into parliament.

The BILI non-governmental organisation, which Ivanov transferred on paper after taking office as minister of justice, is one of the main judicial-system agents for protection of the grant-funded entities. Others include Lozan Panov, president of the Supreme Court of Cassation, whose ties with the oligarchy are well-documented, and Kalin Kalpakchiev, head of another grant-funded organisation that has infiltrated the judicial system – the Union of Bulgarian Judges.

At the end of May, Brussels was forced to officially refute a Wednesday report by the mainstream media machine of indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, which claimed that the European Commission had announced it would continue its monitoring of judicial reforms and home affairs in Bulgaria. The denial came directly from Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, who was forced to address the absurd fake news that was being spread by several media outlets in Bulgaria. The fabrication was first ran by the daily newspaper Sega, owned by gas tycoon Sasho Donchev, then quickly picked up by bTV, which even Prime Minister Boyko Borissov calls “Bozhkov TV” because of its ties to the gambling tzar. For the purposes of their manipulation, the two media outlets cite a report which had been adopted at the spring session of the European Semester and which contained recommendations on “the 2020 National Reform Programme”. Clearly they hoped that no one would go to the trouble of reading the document, which did not contain any assertions about keeping the CVM for Bulgaria in place.

However, the mainstream media machine created by the indicted oligarch from the town of Razgrad, Ivo Prokopiev, and aided by media outlets financed by the rest of the shadowy bosses in Bulgarian clearly decide to use what time it had before that happened to stir up the latest grand manipulation, even daring to drag Brussels into it. This is its second time doing so, after in 2015 Mediapool, another weapon of the Fake News Factory controlled by the indicted and charged oligarchs in Bulgaria, reported that the European Commission had demanded that then-Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov resign. At the time, Mediapool cited a letter by a Commission clerk, who later turned out to be part of Prokopiev’s circle. The scandal caused an outcry not only in Bulgaria, but in Brussels as well, and the Commission was forced to explicitly deny that piece of fake news, saying the subject was never discussed. By the by, the fabrication was concocted at the time by someone who is now a part of the Bulgarian desk of Radio Free Europe, which is also one of the media outlets affiliated with the behind-the-scenes clique’s mainstream media machine. While still serving as a justice minister, Ivanov was caught lobbying in Brussels against the lifting of the CVM.

Meanwhile, NGOs linked to the indicted oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, are set to distribute the money that the government has earmarked for promoting civil society and funding projects of significance to society as a whole (See here). This circumstance is made obvious by the list of 14 organisations that are going to be represented on the new Council for the Development of Civil Society. The selection procedure was launched at the end of February and hastily finalised a week ago amid almost complete media blackout and in the presence of a blatant conflict of interest as well as procedural manoeuvring. The 2020 public budget provides nearly BGN 100m for “subsidies and other current transfers to nonprofit legal entities”. The exact sum is BGN 98,152,300.



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