President, GERB Floor Leader Trade Attacks over Apartment Purchase Controversy
120 POLITICS - PRESIDENT - GERB FLOOR LEADER - APARTMENT - COMMENT
President, GERB Floor Leader
Trade Attacks over Apartment
Sofia, March 21 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev and GERB floor leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov traded attacks Thursday over a controversy about a luxury apartment that Tsvetanov acquired last year at a price that was allegedly below-market. Radev said that the implications of the apartment purchase transcend the transaction and undermine people's confidence in the political class and statehood. Tsvetanov dismissed the comments as a mere talking point.
Tsvetanov's apartment purchase made it to the front pages of the newspapers on Tuesday after Free Europe published the findings of an investigation they did jointly with the Anti-Corruption Fund. Tsvetanov has denied any wrongdoing, saying that the transaction was totally transparent and compliant with the law. The prosecution magistracy said they would look into the matter, as probably will the anti-corruption commission.
President Radev said Thursday that "there is no chance for an anti-corruption commission which was appointed and is controlled by Tsvetanov to probe Tsvetanov according to a toothless law proposed by Tsvetanov himself".
The President believes that Tsvetanov is sure to be cleared by the anti-corruption commission and by anybody else who probes him, and this will be at odds with the moral censure of society. "This is the big problem in store for us," he added as he was asked by the press to comment on the matter during a spring celebration in the southern town of Kyustendil.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov sees Radev's remarks as an indication of the talking points GERB's opponents - particularly the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) - will be using as they campaign for the European and local elections this year. He reiterated his position that the law has been complied with and that he did not get the apartment at a preferential price - although he also said he was not aware of the prices charged by the construction company. He said the competent authorities should be left to do their probe.
Tsvetanov said that there are questions which he can ask the President and which the President will be unable to answer "because there will be nobody to tell him what to say".
Tsvetanov said that he always gets smear attacks ahead of elections.
"Congratulations to those who put this in the news because it is for two days now that we have not been talking about the Socialist Party and what happens there. This is how it should be. It was a tactical thing that diverted public attention from these [BSP-related] issues and brought it back on GERB," he said.
Apparently, he was referring to last Sunday's election of the top-of-the-list candidate of the Socialist Party for the European elections and the views of the different camps in the BSP on it.
Ever since the apartment controversy flared up, it transpired that Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva, Deputy Sports Minister Vanya Koleva and former culture minister Vezhdi Rashidov have also purchased apartments from the same company at prices lower than those asked from other buyers. LN/