site.btaMedia Review: February 29

Media Review: February 29
Media Review: February 29
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POLITICS

The political tensions, at the centre of which lies the quarrel between power-sharing partners Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and GERB-UDF, dominate Thursday's news media.

In an interview for the 24 Chasa daily, political analyst Teodora Yovcheva comments on GERB’s preparations to draft a coalition agreement offering CC-DB a full government term in office. Yovcheva argues that GERB's proposal is dictated by the reluctance of the civil majority to hold early elections. Proposing a full government tenure, Boyko Borissov's party transfers the responsibility for possible early elections to CC-DB. The message is "our intention is to have a full mandate, but because of the others [power-sharing partners] it cannot be implemented", as triggering early elections is not prestigious, Yovcheva explains. GERB’s announcement came shortly after CC-DB unveiled a draft memorandum of agreement with GERB and GERB first rejected it but then said they would consider it. According to Yovcheva, CC-DB's memorandum move is to remove any doubts of a growing rapprochement with Borissov's party. There is no legal text obliging Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov to step down on March 6, as stipulated in the agreement for a government on a rotational basis between CC-DB and GERB-UDF, the political analyst notes.

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The Trud daily publishes an interview with political scientist Strahil Deliyski, who believes that GERB leader Boyko Borissov realises that there is a high probability that the balance of power will change and the electoral support in the MEP elections will not be in favour of CC-DB and Borissov will exploit this. CC-DB's huge amount of talk of how they would defeat the mafia and remove GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) from power, has totally failed. The brand under which this coalition [CC-DB] is being sold to its voters no longer has the same potential and credibility, Deliyski argues.

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Commenting on the upcoming government rotation scheduled to take place in early March, Arman Babikyan, a political PR, told the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) that this is not a rotation but rather a mutation. In his words, the ranks of the current government are largely made up of political players that people participating in the large-scale protests in 2020 and 2021 have ousted from power. In the time since then, those people’s priorities have been replaced and others have emerged in their place, such as Bulgaria's Schengen and eurozone membership, he said. "Here is your stability today! What is this stability producing right now? We watched for 15 years how Borissov protected us from the communists. We never saw where the communists were. Now it seems he will have to protect us from President [Radev], from Putin, from Vazrazhdane, from all sorts of other scarecrows lurking in the bush, which is very profitable for him," Babikyan stressed. According to him, during the so-called rotation process, Borissov is following GERB’s expanding claims, demanding Bulgaria’s three main contact points with the rest of the civilised world - the posts of prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister. At this stage, Defence Minister Tagarev represents the real, working symbol of Bulgaria's Euro-Atlantic solidarity, while Borissov, together with MRF co-leader Delyan Peevski, wants this position for himself. They need this point of contact and Tagarev is clearly getting in their way by actually working, Babikyan added.

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Commenting on the political turmoil on Nova TV’s morning talk show, political analysts Hristo Panchugov, Lyubomir Stefanov and media and journalism expert Georgi Lozanov agreed that holding early parliamentary elections instead of having government rotation, is unlikely, despite the tension between CC-DB and GERB-UDF. However, in Lozanov's words, the main rupture in the relations of the power-sharing partners comes from the fact that they are still political opponents but try to maintain some sort of a coalition relationship at the same time. "GERB, on the other hand, has purposely tried to discredit CC-DB so that another [ruling] configuration would be possible. For example, [a configuration in which] GERB and the MRF to govern after the next elections. Or a third party with a dubious Euro-Atlantic orientation could emerge to replace CC-DB," Lozanov said.

In Panchugov's words, CC-DB's lack of plan has put them in a situation of not only failing to isolate GERB and the MRF from the government, but also making it look like GERB and the MRF are shaping the agenda in the state. "At the moment, we are seeing a panicked attempt to emerge victorious from an impossible situation", he noted, adding that the two coalitions (CC-DB and GERB-UDF) have a serious problem - they cannot function together.

According to Stefanov, the problem is communicational, conceptual and general political. "For 30 years, our politicians have not learned to talk to each other publicly. Obviously, they do it non-publicly because we have more than one agreement and results. We do not have a coalition culture," Stefanov emphasized.

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Capital.bg examines the political turmoil in Bulgaria thoroughly, front-paging an article titled "The Positional War Between GERB and CC-DB".

HOME AFFAIRS

In a bTV interview, Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov commented on different cases, including the ones regarding late Martin "The Notary" Bozhanov - a person shot dead in Sofia and implicated in influence trading in the Judiciary, Petar "the Euro" Petrov - a former ranking investigator and a key figure in the Eight Dwarfs investigation, and the murder of businessman Alexey Petrov.

Asked about the first case, Stoyanov said that a total of 22 alerts of various crimes committed by Bozhanov, including for influence peddling and money laundering, have been sumbitted to the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC) (*the investigation against Bozhanov began at a time when Stoyanov is not interior minister, but GDCOC head). Commenting on accusations made by Boyko Rashkov (CC-DB MP and former interior minister), Stoyanov denied that GDCOC had leaked information to Bozhanov. "GDCOC had not leaked any information to The Notary. GDCOC is the only body that, under my direction, has gathered evidence to initiate pre-trial proceedings. If Boyko Rashkov had held meetings with someone and received information or has evidence that GDCOC had leaked information, he should have referred the matter to the Internal Security Directorate, which is directly subordinate to the Interior Minister," Stoyanov explained.

Commenting on the whereabouts of the Petar "the Euro" Petrov, Stoyanov said that he does not know where he is. "What I know for sure is that he has been declared a wanted man by the state and there is nothing else I can say about that," he underscored.

The assassination of Alexey Petrov requires thorough investigation, Stoyanov said. "A huge amount of information is being analysed, witnesses are questioned and there are numerous expert reports. […] Whether there is something discovered and what - I think that question should be asked to the investigating team. In order to discover the perpetrator of such a contract killing, we should get to the physical perpetrator in the first place," Stoyanov stressed.

The Interior Minister also commented on the strengthening of Frontex's presence on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, Bulgaria’s Schengen entry, the armoured personnel carriers destined for Ukraine, and his ministry’s measures against driving motor vehicles under the influence.

DEFENCE

Speaking to BNR, Sofia Security Forum President Yordan Bozhilov said that the issue of sending troops to Ukraine, whether of NATO or individual countries, is not on the agenda. Bozhilov’s comment came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron who noted that sending western troops to Ukraine cannot be ruled out. According to him, Macron’s were taken way too directly. Instead of European countries wondering how to create a separate European army, it would be better to strengthen the transatlantic relations with the US - this would be the best guarantee for security in Europe, Bozhilov believes. The EU's external borders are the busiest and most risky in terms of migration flows. Strengthening Bulgaria's border would be another argument in favour of Bulgaria's membership in entering Schengen by land, Bozhilov stressed, commenting on the strengthening of Frontex's presence on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. Bulgarian security and defence are unthinkable outside the EU and NATO, Bozhilov emphasized, calling the Bulgarian representatives in the two unions’ institutions to be more active and show "more visible presence".

ESPIONAGE IN RUSSIA’S FAVOUR

Mediapool.bg writes that the sixth suspected member of a Russian spy network based in the United Kingdom, Tihomir Ivanchev - a 38-years-old Bulgarian, has been remanded in custody. Ivanchev has been charged with "conspiracy to obtain, collect, record, publish or transmit documents or information" that could be useful for purposes harmful to the security and interests of the state. Previously, the Crown Prosecution Service brought charges against five other Bulgarian citizens for belonging to an alleged Russian spy network in the period from August 2020 to February 2023. These are 46-year-old Orlin Rusev, 42-year-old Biser Dzhambazov, 32-year-old Katrin Ivanova, 32-year-old Ivan Stoyanov and 29-year-old Vanya Gaberova.

/KK/

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By 22:31 on 24.04.2024 Today`s news

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