site.btaUPDATED Sports Minister, 5 MPs Leave There Is Such a People
Outgoing Sports Minister Radostin Vasilev and five MPs from There Is Such a People (TISP), which until last week was one of the partners in the ruling coalition, announced leaving their party and said that it has been infiltrated by the mafia. They held a news conference to announce their decision. The Prime Minister commended the TISP breakaways for their courage and said the mafia has lost their agent in the government. TISP called them “traitors”, said they have surely been bought with money or posts, and accused them of being the mafia themselves.
Monday's developments came in the wake of TISP's decision last week to pull out its four ministers from the government, claiming that Prime Minister Kiril Petkov had violated the coalition agreement and was inept to run the country. With that move, the government lost its majority support in Parliament: the power-sharing parties have 109 votes in the 240-seat Parliament and it needs 121 to be able to pass important bills, including a proposed budget revision that would allow the government to spend for a package of crisis-relief and anti-inflationary measures.
The walkout of the five MPs and one minister from TISP gives the government coalition a boost of support but it is still short of the votes it needs in the legislature.
The Prime Minister expects more MPs to come up and support the government.
Here is how events evolved on Monday.
Outgoing Sports Minister, 5 MPs Leave TISP Party
The outgoing Minister of Youth and Sports Radostin Vasilev and five There Is Such a People (TISP) MPs are splitting from their parliamentary group, Vasilev and his colleagues reported during a briefing on Monday afternoon. The five MPs in question are Nikolay Radulov, Ivo Atanasov, Georgi Georgiev, Deyan Petkov, and Svetlin Stoyanov.
"I can no longer support the actions of TISP leader Slavi Trifonov, and he can no longer rely on my confidence. The mafia has entered TISP," Vasilev stated. The Minister shared that he no longer had the authority to make his own decisions, because a group of anonymous persons was pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
"I could never imagine a day would come, when I would say this, but here it is: Bulgaria is more important to me than the backstage interests of a group of individuals, who seem to be in control of our party leader," Vasilev said.
The Sports Minister added that his actions required a lot of bravery. "Pressure was exerted on me and many of my colleagues. Our group is not comprised of just one minister and five MPs," Vasilev stated. According to him, Slavi Trifonov has never cared about his electorate and does not know his MPs. "Each new conversation I had with [Trifonov] reaffirmed my belief that, unfortunately, TISP is not a parliamentary project. It is a business project."
After Trifonov's decision to withdraw his confidence from the government, the ruling coalition comprised of Continue the Change (67), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (26), and Democratic Bulgaria (16) has 109 MPs and needs another 12 to have a majority in Parliament.
Prime Minister Petkov, Finance Minister Vassilev, Continue the Change Party React
“Today is a good day for the rule of law,” said Prime Minister and Continue the Change co-leader Kiril Pekov at an extraordinary news briefing of the party leadership.
Petkov thanked the TISP MPs who said they will leave their parliamentary group and party, as well as Sports Minister Radostin Vasilev who also walked out. Petkov described Vasilev's actions as an act of bravery and loyalty to the state.
“Today it became clear that the divide is here - between the State taken over by the mafia and Bulgaria of the free people,” said the Prime Minister
According to him, this Parliament will have a majority which says “no” to mafia.
"Bulgaria has always depended on brave people. Today I saw some brave people whose loyalty is not to the behind-the-scenes singer [TISP leader Slavi Trifonov] and his friends," he added. "The mafia has lost its coalition partner."
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, who spoke at the news conference, said he was hoping there would be more and more courageous MPs and that the country would not be ruled by "behind-the-scenes screenwriters, former prime ministers in jeeps or mansions", implying in succession TISP, former GERB PM Boyko Borissov and Movement for Rights and Freedoms honorary chairman Ahmed Dogan.
"The mafia has lost the opportunity to form a government. The people's time to speak is now," Vassilev said.
Petkov said that the MPs leaving TISP were against behind-the-scenes actions and expressed hope that this type of leadership would inspire a majority in Parliament to say "No to the Mafia".
TISP Leader Trifonov
TISP party ledaer Slavi Trifonov said in a Facebook post shortly before the announcement of the breakaway TISP members that those leaving his party have been most likely bought off with money or posts.
"I do not have to be a fortune teller to guess that they will say a bunch of lies and made-up things in Kiril's [Petkov] and Assen's [Vassilev] style, only to justify their doing and soothe their guilty conscience. Betrayal is betrayal, after all, and nobody likes traitors. Even those who profit from them. Power may not be an end in itself for me, but for others it is. They have to look at themselves in the mirror each morning. Such is life. Truth be told, I feel ashamed but also relieved from this whole thing. Because in a battle, it's better to have friends by your side than traitors," Trifonov said.
Later on Monday, Trifonov announced in another Facebook post that he will take to court Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Deputy PM Assen Vassilev and outgoing sports and youth minister Radostin Vasilev "for their lies and insinuations".
TISP News Conference
“There Is Such a People has been subjected to pressure by thugs,” said MP Stanislav Balabanov at a news conference of his TISP party after six TISP members announced they are leaving the party. Balabanov described as "a thug" Sports Minister Radostin Vasilev, who is one of the breakaway TISP members.
“Today is a wonderful day, because we saw people who proved that they are traitors with their behavior. You witnessed many lies without any proof,” added Balabanov.
A recording of a conversation, in which Vasilev orders TISP MP Hristina Ivanova from the Pleven constituency to leave Parliament, was played at the conference.
TISP legal expert Iva Miteva, who took part in the news conference, said that the recording is evidence to several crimes and expressed hope that the authorities will react. Toshko Yordanov said that everything that Vasilev said was a lie.
According to Balabanov, "the whole conspiracy with the breakaway MPs has to do with money and posts.” He reiterated TISP’s position that “the state is being led into bankruptcy and Bulgaria’s history is betrayed because of North Macedonia."
TISP will request a closed sitting of Parliament in connection with North Macedonia at which outgoing Fooreign Minister Teodora Genchovska will present information and secret cables about talks on the issue, said TISP floor leader Yordanov at the news conference.
Yordanov said that TISP continue to insist because Continue the Change are trying to shift the focus away from North Macedonia.
Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister Grozdan Karazdhov said that Prime Minister Petkov is reiterating a false statement that TISP ministers had been withdrawn over the money for the Regional Development Ministry. “Everything I did was agreed with both Prime Minister Petkov and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev.
Parliamentary budget committee chair Lyubomir Karimanski said that TISP will back on first reading the budget update. Between first and second readings of the bill the party will propose additional requirements in order to make everything transparent. The party does not want speculations that people will be left without pensions because of it.
President: Parliamentary Forces Should Not Allow Their Contradictions Overshadow People's, State's Interests
The political situation in the country requires the parties represented in Parliament to not allow the contradictions between them to overshadow the interests of the State and the Bulgarians, said President Rumen Radev on Monday. Radev was approached for comment by reporters after taking part in an award ceremony for the finalists in the 22nd edition of the CodeIT programming competition.
"I expect both the government and the MPs, while contemplating their own political prospects, to keep in mind the massive responsibility they owe the people, the promises given for lowering the inflation, for tackling the social and economic crises," the head of State said. According to Radev, the politicians' behaviour today will determine whether the public tomorrow will trust not just the politicians' parties, but the political system in Bulgaria as a whole.