Galevization of the Bulgarian NationEditorial |Author: Ivan Dikov | June 19, 2009, Friday // 13:18| views
If you are just a provincial bandit in Bulgaria, chances are you will be known only in the respective region... But when your name becomes nationally and internationally known, and even turns into a noun, contributing the cool vocabulary of the Bulgarian language, then this is really a big deal.
This actually happened with the notorious businessmen from the southwest Bulgarian town of Dupnitsa, the Galevi Brothers.
Now, Plamen Galev and Angel Hristov, aka "Gele" (who are not really brothers but are just known at the Galevi Brothers) have not been sentenced yet so technically they cannot be described as "bandits". As of now they are just alleged local mafia bosses, and are being investigated for organized crime, racketeering, you name it. Reports have it the two had turned Dupnitsa into a feudal entity with them being the feudal lords.
Whether Galevi are criminals or not is a matter of concern for the judicial system. The issue of concern for all of Bulgaria, and for our EU partners, for that matter, is the fact that Galevi come to represent a whole trend of a number of cases in which alleged criminals, whose investigations and trials have dragged on for months and years through the Bulgarian courts, have come to escape justice (at least temporarily) by running for Members of the Bulgarian Parliament and acquiring the respective immunity.
Thus, the Galevi Brothers have been released from prison on a BGN 100 000 bail this week as their elections campaign kicked in.
A closely watched trial for the alleged abuse of EUR 7,5 M of SAPARD program money by the businessman Mario Nikolov and eight others was stopped temporarily just because one of the defendants - Ivan Ivanov - was a MP candidate on the ticket of the LIDER party.
(Please keep in mind that EU funds abuse in Bulgaria led the EC to freeze hundreds of millions that Bulgaria was supposed to get!!!!)
A totally unknown political party - the Union of Bulgarian Patriots - has nominated as MP candidates Alexander Tomov, who is indicted for document fraud and embezzlement of over EUR 5 M from CSKA and BGN 29 M from the Kremikovtzi steel mill, and Ivan Slavkov, a Varna city councilor from the DPS party, who is under investigation for creating and leading an organized crime group dealing with drug trafficking, money laundering, and prostitution.
(Btw, an interesting fact - the party in question is chaired by Yuliy Abadzhiev, who also chairs the Bulgarian Union of Former Commandos.)
Both of these guys now get immunity as MP candidates, thus escaping justice for at least a couple of months. The same party also wanted to nominate two other Varna city councilors - a father and a son, Veselin and Hristo Danovi. Those two, however, have already been sentenced - to three and one years in jail respectively - through an agreement with the prosecution, basically, for the same crimes that Ivan Slavkov above is accused of.
So the galevization of the Bulgarian nation seems to be going full speed ahead. All this due to Article 53 of the Members of Parliament Elections Act which stipulates that "during elections campaign the registered MP candidates cannot be arrested and charged except in the cases of a grave crime already committed".
The Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolay Kokinov recently noted that the whole problem could easily be resolved if the electoral legislation was amended by adding the requirement that persons with pending trials and investigations should not be allowed to run for MPs (i.e. adding that to the already existing requirement banning people with sentences from running for Parliament).
Unfortunately, the galevization problem is much deeper than just a bad article in a law that hasn't been thought all the way through. The problem exposes serious cracks in the system of democratic government in Bulgaria, including in the judicial system, as well as with the lacking civil society.
In a nutshell, the legislation is flawed if it allows alleged (but very likely) mafia bosses to run for MPs;
the judicial system has very grave issues because the cases drag on forever - and the MP candidate's immunity is just one of numerous ways to stall a trial;
and finally, where is the civil society, the responsible middle class that must feel threatened by this galevization, and must act immediately and decisively to stop this madness and rectify the situation?
Because the stalling of trials due to candidate immunity is one thing... but if any of the main characters in the galevization play gets elected to the Parliament of Bulgaria, a EU member state, the ramifications will be huge... and certainly not good ones.
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