Bulgaria Shies Away from Ban on Medals, Orders for Former Secret Agents

Domestic | April 8, 2011, Friday // 15:30|  views

Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms and MP, who served as agent of the intelligence and secret police during the communist regime in Bulgaria, was decorated with Stara Planina order in 2004. File photo

Bulgarians, who were collaborators of the State Security, the intelligence and secret police during the communist regime, will not be banned from receiving medals and orders, the parliament decided on Friday.

The adopted legislative amendments are a much watered-down version of the proposal, tabled in parliament by the right-wing Blue coalition. While it was surprisingly supported at first reading in December last year, now the MPs decided that the files of all candidates for medals will be checked, but no ban will be imposed.

The news comes exactly a year and a half after the Constitutional Court overruled a parliamentary decision that prohibited MPs with state security records to head parliamentary commissions, join international delegations and be members of the interior security and defense commissions, as well as those that control the county's State Agency for National Security (DANS) and European funds.

The Constitutional Court was approached by the formerly ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and its ally the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, now in opposition, who vehemently protested against the ban.

The court ruled the decision unconstitutional, saying it limits the rights of the members of parliament to be elected in parliamentary bodies and breaches the basic law for equality of all citizens.

The files of the former State Security are a thorny issue in Bulgaria, especially when it comes to the past of high-ranking officials.

Bulgaria's communist-era security service is believed to have remained potent after the fall of communism with the ex-operatives closely linked to the political and business establishment.

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Tags: files, Bulgaria, communist-era security service, State Agency for National Security, secret police, intelligence, Constitutional Court, State Security, Bulgarians, communist regime


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