Bulgaria's Rulers Deny Bribing Independent MPs

Domestic | January 10, 2012, Tuesday // 14:19|  views

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has refuted claims that GERB lured renegade MPs with the promise of substantial extra payments. Photo by BGNES

Interior Minister and Vice-Chair of center-right ruling party GERB Tsvetan Tsvetanov has rejected claims that the party is "bribing" independent MPs by giving them back the state subsidy they diverted away from the political formation they used to belong to.

In a Tuesday interview for the morning broadcast of Nova TV, he specified that the renegade MPs were given money to cover their expenses for political activities

Tsvetanov was forced to offer explanations after he stirred a scandal with his announcement in end-December that the independent MPs who had pledged allegiance to GERB and had redirected their state subsidies to the party received the money back.

On Monday, the first working day of the new year for MPs, right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) vowed to notify the parliamentary anti-corruption committee about the matter.

"Independent MPs, just like the others, conduct parliamentary activities and incur expenses, for instance for expert statements on legislation, for their regular activities, etc. This is why they are given the money," Tsvetanov stated on Tuesday, adding that the sums were transferred to the MPs on the basis of invoices, which were subject to inspection by the Audit Office.

"What goes on has nothing to do with handing out money. The claims that surfaced that these MPs are being given a second salary are totally absurd," the Interior Minister argued.

Tsvetanov further commented that Ataka leader Volen Siderov, who accuded GERB of stealing subsidy proceeds from the nationalist party, displayed substantial
aggression towards him and towards Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

"We are not to blame for Ataka's condition. They brought this upon themselves by their own actions. A large number of MPs renounced him when he resorted to mindless activities like the provocation in front of the mosque," Tsvetanov explained, reminding of the May 20 accident in front of the Banya Bashi mosque in downtown Sofia, in which activists of the party assaulted praying Muslims during a rally protesting the mosque's use of loudspeakers.

A few days ago, Siderov called GERB and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov "thieves of state subsidy".

"11 MPs from Ataka were lured and bought by GERB on the promise of getting BGN 17 000 per month. As a result, our state subsidy was cut by half, while the party mouthpieces - the "Ataka" newspaper and the Alfa TV station - are only backed by the party and we rely solely on this money," Siderov explained on January 05.

Siderov warned that he would refer the matter to the Ombudsman and the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) because the scheme involved "illegal draining of finances" which the party obtained on the basis of votes received at the parliamentary elections.

In 2011, a total of 11 MPs left the parliamentary group of Ataka, leaving it with the bare minimum of 10 members.

Six of the renegade MPs pledged allegiance to GERB, four others are expected to follow suit and one sided with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).

In his Tuesday statement, GERB's Vice-Chair made it clear that the issue of early elections had never been brought up for discussion in the party.

"We were given a clear sign and an evaluation by the community at the presidential and local elections. The people realized that there is no alternative today to the rule of GERB. We are implementing our government agenda. Our political opponents are riven with internal problems and it is easy for them to engage in such talk," Tsvetanov remarked.

He insisted that socialist leader Sergey Stanishev brought up the issue of snap elections because outgoing President Georgi Parvanov and former leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) would soon return to the formation.

The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party, on the other hand, had become aware of the fact that the ruling party would achieve serious influence in mixed-population regions in the year and a half that was left until the next regular general elections, Tsvetanov concluded.

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Tags: state subsidy, Volen Siderov, nationalist leader, nationalist party, Ataka, ruling party, GERB, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Sergey Stansishev, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Georgi Parvanov


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