Parliament Majority Votes for Removal of Deputy Chairman Zhablyanov

Sofia, February 21 (BTA) - The majority in Parliament Wednesday voted in favour of the removal of Socialist MP Valeri Zhablyanov as Parliament's Deputy Chair with 110 votes in favour and 71 against. GERB, the United Patriots and Volya were for the removal, BSP for Bulgaria was against and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) did not take part in the vote.

Last week, GERB called for Zhablyanov's resignation over what they saw as systematic violations of the National Assembly's rules of procedure. The ruling party accused Zhablyanov of coining a scandalous phrase in an official declaration of the Bulgarian Socialist Party on Lukov March, which called the [communist regime's] People's Court "necessary and inevitable justice", and of trying to stop Parliament from holding a minute's silence for the victims of the totalitarian regime two weeks back. According to GERB, Zhablyanov should also be removed from office because of his January 18 statement on the ratification of the Treaty of Good-neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Bulgaria is above everything and the present resignation will be better for democracy, GERB Floor Leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said during the debates. The BSP has the right to nominate a new deputy chairman but that should not be [presidential counselor] Ivo Hristov, he added.

United Patriots MP Aleksandar Sidi warned that the present vote is a signal that the BSP should reconsider its attitude to the black episodes in history.

Volya MP Veselin Mareshki said his parliamentary group had decided to vote in favour of Zhablyanov's removal after they had heard the debate.

GERB does not have moral or legal grounds to want Zhablyanov's removal from his post, which is why MRF will not take part in this farce, MRF Deputy Floor Leader Yordan Tsonev said in turn. He added that GERB is demonstrating double standards in respect to the so-called "Revival Process" [a forceful attempt of the then ruling authorities to make citizens of Turkish ethnic origin change their names to Bulgarian ones]. Tsonev also said GERB is also applying double standards in respect to the so-called Lukov March. He was referring to a torchlit procession which has been held annually since 2003 to pay tribute to Gen. Hristo Lukov (1883-1943), who was Bulgaria's Minister of War between 1935 and 1938 and a controversial figure because of his close links to the Third Reich and his activity as leader of the far-right Union of Bulgarian National Legions.

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova rejected the arguments of GERB, stating that Zhablyanov did not rise to honour the victims of communism. The only thing he did was to propose that the victims of fascism be added to them, she recalled. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Chair of the National Assembly have been heard to denounce the fascist actions of children during Lukov March in Sofia on February 17, she went on to say. The declaration read by Zhablyanov was in the name of the party and that does not commit the name of Parliament, Ninova said.

The Left will not nominate another Deputy Chair of the National Assembly, the party leader said. The case will be referred to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Constitutional Court. Ninova assured the incumbent they will receive an eighth verdict of the European Court, which will prove that this government is backed by a dictatorship and repression of anyone who is different. After that the BSP group left plenary.

Zhablyanov qualified GERB's arguments with which they requested his resignation as "legal, political and other helplessness."

Source: Sofia