site.btaMedia Review: June 5
Two topics dominate Monday’s news media – the mystery around the deceased convicted fugitive Angel Hristov and the efforts to form a government with the second exploratory mandate.
Trud gives a forecast that Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and GERB-UDF’s government might need some last-minute alterations due to the fact that currently only one person fills the role of a Deputy Prime Minister – an unprecedented situation in the post-1989 political status-quo. The newspaper quotes GERB-UDF and CC-DB MPs, who state that given the ambitious objectives, announced by the new government – entry in the Schengen area, the eurozone and reforms under the Recovery and Resilience Plan, require at least three more Deputy Prime Ministers. Trud points out that the CC-DB and GERB-UDF cabinet still do not expect support from the other parliamentary forces for government formation.
24 Chassa features an extensive analysis of the current political landscape and the shifts beneath it. The newspaper says that President Rumen Radev’s reaction during the handing of the second government-forming mandate to CC-DB PM designate Nikolay Denkov, together with Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev’s request for the removal of the political immunity of GERB-UDF’s leader Boyko Borissov, has prompted CC-DB and GERB-UDF to approximate their positions and rhetoric, making the two formations acceptable partners in their own eyes. The article elaborates that Radev remains a significant power centre in Bulgaria, with GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF) being the other two. 24 Chassa also stresses that the CC-DB remain an important and unavoidable factor in the rearrangement of the Bulgarian political landscape, albeit without strong party structures across the country. The newspaper also states that Ivan Geshev might request the political immunity of another former PM – Kiril Petkov, CC’s co-chairman. 24 Chassa quotes President Radev that the notion of an expert government is false, since the responsibility remains with the political parties that form it.
Trud quotes Constitutional Law Professor Plamen Kirov that the new government will most likely have a backstage Deputy PM – Assen Vassilev.
Telegraph and the Bulgarian National Radio feature the position of DB co-leader Gen. Atanas Atanasov that CC-DB and GERB-UDF will end the political crisis by forming a regular government.
Telegraph has an extensive interview with political and economic analyst Kuzman Iliev on the political situation, who states that the unity of the liberal forces in the country was inevitable, although its implementation, in his words, is a paradox due to the recent antagonism between GERB-UDF and CC-DB. In Iliev’s words, they have found a common foe, which makes Boyko Borissov a suitable agent in the eyes of liberal circles – the President and the Prosecutor General. Iliev believes that the anti-Russian rhetoric of CC-DB is a mere tactic and doubts that Russian influence in this country is so significant. The political analyst comments on the state budget that the future government is expected to prepare and argues that the state should be cutting expenses instead of increasing taxes.
24 Chassa has an interview with sociologist and political analyst Dimitar Ganev, who states that with the Denkov-Gabriel cabinet, the non-government sector enters the government one. He believes that the factor, which gives legitimacy to the alliance between CC-DB and GERB-UDF is the new common foe in the figure of President Radev. The latter, in Ganev’s words, facilitates the rhetoric transition of CC-DB and GERB-UDF to making the coalition acceptable for the larger part of their voters. Ganev states that with the government formation, the political situation, which started in 2020 ends with GERB-UDF successfully overcoming a three-year isolation and CC-DB effectively consuming the gained positions from the last elections. Ganev forecasts that political tensions will rise again in the autumn around the local elections.
Duma publishes the position of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) against the government formation of CC-DB and GERB-UDF. The article quotes BSP MP Rumen Gechev, who remains skeptical that the political crisis will end with this government. He believes that the CC-DB will effectively rescue GERB leader Boyko Borissov. BSP leader Korneliya Ninova called on Borissov to renounce his political immunity, instead of keeping the National Assembly and the country “hostage” to his own survival.
Duma also features an interview with Reneta Indzhova, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. She says that CC-DB and GERB-UDF have discredited themselves in recent months but blames President Radev for the crisis. Indzhova states that the situation is a result of more than 40 years of “mafia” structure building both in political and societal life of Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reports that the Prosecution General Ivan Geshev intends to conduct a “real judiciary reform”, in his words. He said that there is a totalitarian coup in the judiciary and that the separation of powers is not respected. “They want to subordinate prosecutors, judges and investigators to illegitimate oligarchic interests”, Geshev said, adding that after the judiciary comes the President, “who they now call by all sorts of names.”
In the morning talk show of NOVA political analysts commented on the government formation between CC-DB and GERB-UDF. Former MEP Svetoslav Malinov pointed out that the parliamentary democracy has worked through a “classic mechanism” – a coalition between the two first parliamentary forces. Former Energy minister Miroslav Sevlievski agreed and stressed that parliamentary democracy and Bulgarian Constitution function quite well in the three-year long political crisis.
BNR has an extensive interview with Professor Rossen Stoyanov, a lecturer on political communications in the New Bulgarian University, who said that society needs to give the new cabinet at least some 100 days in order to see whether it will implement the necessary reforms. He expressed his skepticism in the government stability, considering the tensions in the National Assembly. Stoyanov stressed that the conjunctural basis of the coalition vary between two persons – President Radev and Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev. He added that the parliamentary forces are torn between them as to who will be “a unifying figure to whom arrows should be aimed.”
Mediapool and the morning talk show of bTV featured former Financial Minister Simeon Djankov, who expressed his belief that the key for the success of the regular government lies in the hands of DB co-leader Hristo Ivanov. Djankov said that this cabinet “can last for some time if it shows success in achieving Schengen, judicial reform, eurozone and budget”. He stressed the key role of the parliament, instead of the government.
BNR and bTV quote Special Envoy and Coordinator for the U.S. Department of State's Global Engagement Center, James Rubin, who dismissed allegations that the USA has put together the future Bulgarian government. He states that the US wants a regular government as soon as possible and adds that Bulgaria, together with Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia, is a country vulnerable to Russian disinformation.
Angel Hristov Investigation
BNT and bTV report details about the death of Angel Hristov, the convicted fugitive and one of the two Galev Brothers (who are not really brothers). They said that he died in his villa in the village of Resilovo, Western Bulgaria, and the death certificate was issued by a private hospital in Dupnitza, even though he did not die there. The hospital denies having issued the death certificate. NOVA adds that the investigation of the circumstances by which Hristov entered Bulgaria is still ongoing. Quoting the caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev, Sega.bg says that Hristov used a false ID to enter Bulgaria after spending long years in South Africa. Telegraph on the other hand, notes that Hristov had valid documents. Capital states that Hristov’s death is “yet another slap in the face” for the Bulgarian judicial system and police, and that Hristov’s death oddly coincides with that of another convicted fugitive – Krasimir "Karo" Kamenov. Trud adds that the death of Hristov in Bulgaria, without the knowledge of the state organs made the latter a “laughingstock”. 24 Chassa covers the whole story around the mysterious entry and death of Angel Hristov. The NOVA morning talk show featured an extensive discussion on the topic as well with journalist Kiril Borisov and the former director of the Search Department Krasimir Zanev as guests.
24 Chassa writes that the housing prices and rents have become nearly unbearable for the average Bulgarian. The article states that a third consecutive quarter is seeing a decrease in home purchases and deals. The story compares housing prices and rents in Sofia from 2016 to 2023 with housing prices in other large European cities.
Trud has an article on the new proposals by the caretaker government on the minimal pension increase after July 1. That would make the average pension around BGN 800, which would be an increase of 16.8%. The article states that even with such an increase, around 260,000 people would remain below the poverty line.