Socialist Leader Ninova Wants Deputy PM, Interior Minister Out, Non-Committal about GERB-Initiated Constitutional Amendment to Prosecute Privatization Crimes
Sofia, November 14 (BTA) - At a news conference here on Tuesday, Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Kornelia Ninova demanded the immediate resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov and Interior Minister Valentin Radev over problems with border protection. The step was prompted by a documentary made by Left MP Elena Yoncheva and screened on Monday, which Ninova sees as evidence that corruption schemes, enjoying protection from the high echelons of power, traffic illegal migrants across Bulgaria despite the fence built along the country's border with Turkey. In her words, "200 million leva in taxpayers' money were funnelled into this project [the construction of the fence] and were spent for an unknown purpose."
Reacting to the demands for Simeonov's and Radev's departure, National Assembly Legal Affairs Committee Chairman Danail Kirilov MP of GERB told a news conference in Parliament that GERB firmly backs their actions and does not believe there are any grounds whatsoever for them to resign. Kirilov dismissed as speculation the allegations that there is a new refugee wave and that processes at the border jeopardize Bulgaria's integrity and EU security.
The BSP leader was non-committal about her party's position on a proposal of GERB for amendments to the Constitution abolishing statutory limitations for privatization-related offences. Ninova called this a "halfway" proposal and insisted that it should be extended to cover mass privatization, concessions and the economic conglomerates and strong-arm groupings that have been active during the transition.
"The crimes of the transition must be punished. We want the whole truth on the table," Ninova said.
The Socialists want Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov (formerly a long-serving head of the Privatization Agency) to be heard by Parliament about the number of transactions conducted, the terms under which the contracts were concluded and the control that was exercised. The Legal Affairs Committee should give a hearing to Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov about the checks conducted during the privatization period, the number of proceedings instituted and the number of proceedings terminated through lapse of time.
According to Ninova, the privatization of Bulgartabac, of 33 per cent of the electricity distribution companies and of the properties sold by Boyko Borissov while he was mayor of Sofia has never been checked, unlike her personal participation in the privatization of Technoimpex, which was checked on several occasions. "I am ready for a fourth check, let those who will be checked for the first time get ready," she added.
In response to Ninova's statement, GERB MP Desislava Atanassova said that GERB leader Boyko Borissov had authorized her to say that the party "will share in any initiative, on any occasion and on all subjects that the BSP proposes to be addressed by a constitutional amendment." "We are ready even tomorrow to form a team and to write down all proposals of all parliamentary groups for revisions of the Constitution. We want the truth about all deals of the transition, irrespective of under whose government they became a fact," Atanassova said. "We have not excluded mass privatization from our project. We have always backed an investigation of concessions and especially of subsurface resource extraction concessions, there is a lot we can say about that," Kirilov commented for his part.