President Radev Questions Prosecuting Magistracy's Impartiality
June 29 (BTA) - While visiting the northwestern town of Kozloduy on Monday, President Rumen Radev expressed doubts about the impartiality of the prosecution office, calling it "an interested party". His comment was prompted by the latest leaked recordings of a person sounding like Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, and an influence peddling investigation against the President's Legal Affairs and Anti-Corruption Secretary, Plamen Ouzounov.
"The latest recordings allegedly of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov are alarming," Radev said, adding that they should be authenticated by independent experts because the prosecution office is "an interested party".
He said the recordings are alarming because, if found to be authentic, it will become obvious who runs Bulgaria and how.
The "Borissov" recordings
Тwo recordings of telephone conversations were received by media outlets late on Saturday, in which the only speaker that is heard sounds exactly like Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The other person on the phone in one of the recordings is probably businessman Valentin Zlatev, and the two agree to meet to discuss whether or not Zlatev supports "Kornela and Radev" [likely referring to Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova and President Rumen Radev], which is what the two "had been consistently claiming" and that disappointed "Borissov". Borissov and Zlatev are known to have had long-standing friendly relations.
The other recorded conversation appears to be about President Radev, with "Borissov" giving instructions to someone on the other end of the line about "how we should make a laughing stock of him, make him look ridiculous".
The two conversations are believed to have taken place in early February 2020 as the speaker mentions meetings he was going to have with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. The phone call with Zlatev is believed to have taken place a day after the President announced he was stripping the government of his confidence.
The authenticity of the phone calls has not been confirmed or commented on yet by any of the presumed participants.
The two leaked conversations came on the heels of earlier ones in which the speaker, again sounding like the Prime Minister, makes a disparaging and obscene comment about Parliament Chair Tsveta Karayancheva, implies a clear breach of the separation of powers, and an intent to crack down on a member of the opposition.
Boyko Borissov has denied their authenticity.
Then, numerous media outlets received photos of the Prime Minister sleeping in his bedroom, with wads of cash and a pistol on a nightstand nearby. After the leak of the photos, Borissov accused President Radev of spying on him with a drone - which accusations were promptly dismissed by Radev as fantasy.
On Monday, the President also said that he is in no rush to sack his legal affairs and counter-corruption secretary Plamen Ouzounov, who is being probed for trading in influence. "I am not in a hurry to act because if I believed in the impartiality of the prosecuting magistracy, I would promptly make the easiest decision to dismiss him. But you can see this obvious bias of the prosecuting magistracy, the violation of the law and side-taking in political games. I find this unacceptable," said the President.
The Bobokov-Ouzounov case
In the course of an illegal waste import investigation against businessman Plamen Bobokov, prosecutors published a series of chats between him and presidential secretary Plamen Ouzounov on a wide range of matters, including a Russian whose Bulgarian citizenship application had been rejected; a request to delete the criminal record of a Syrian friend; the identity of deluxe car owners; an as yet unpublished Supreme Administrative Court ruling; and ambassadorial appointments.
Ouzounov commented in a television interview that the real target of the investigation was the President. "I am the means," said Radev's secretary.
Interviewed by the Bulgarian National Television last Friday, Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev said two more presidential secretaries had been questioned, without specifying as part of what proceedings this had been done. On Monday, Radev was asked to name them but he refused, saying this has to be done by the prosecution office.
Radev reiterated that the prosecuting magistracy should apply the same yardstick to all and that it should focus on major abuse. "The prosecution office should not demonstrate exceptional eagerness in some cases and take a reluctant, silent and timid approach in others. This undermines confidence," he added.
The President said his meetings with people in recent weeks were a clear sign that the fear and manipulation directed at the public cannot stop the nascent changes in society. NV/LN/DD