Bulgarian 'Socialists Must Be Crazy'

Editorial |Author: Maria Guineva | October 8, 2013, Tuesday // 11:25|  views

Bulgarian "Socialists must be crazy," the site desebg.com, dealing exclusively with the Communist-era secret files, recently wrote.

It certainly seems so with the mindboggling reshuffles at the highest institutional echelons, reminding a political purge as they frequently lead to the replacement of proven experts with "trusted" individuals. The "Archives" case, for example. Not to mention Peevski or the non-functioning for months now Investment Ministry, launched with unclear purposes, but led by someone exposed in illegally shyphoning the French welfare system. The list is long.

How about some truly novel ideas such as resurrecting military training in schools, closing big supermarkets on weekends or barring young drivers from highways? What is next – outlawing long hair and short skirts? True to their legacy, the current rulers of Bulgaria certainly like (prison) bars and bans, except the smoking one, but this is a different subject.

Some of these are outrageous; others bottom line so stupid that one can only laugh.

However, attempts to whitewash communist past are no joke.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the extremist nationalist Ataka just tabled in the Parliament amendments to the Dossier Act, aiming to prevent the disclosure of records of collaboration and affiliation of senior intelligence officers and military officials with the sinister Communist-era Secret Service, State Security (DS).

This means reinstating notorious paragraph 12, stricken by the previous GERB government on the proposal of the right-wing Blue Coalition. It pertains to former DS agents who have held high-ranking posts in civil and military intelligence since 1991.

Twenty four years after the fall of Communism, Bulgaria struggles, hounted by the same old "skeleton in the closet." This is a country where DS still sends shockwaves among the public and stirs heated debates.

In 2007, Bulgarian Socialist leader and then Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev stated "normal people are no longer interested in DS files" and now, years later and once again, his party wants to open a political umbrella on them, journalist Hristo Hristov, founder of desebg.com reminds.

This vicious circle of endlessly having the "files" issue on the societal agenda is grounded in the fact that Bulgaria botched it miserably. Lustration (limiting the participation of former communist officials and especially informants of the communist secret police in the civil service) never happened in Bulgaria as it did in a number of other former "socialist" countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The most important DS files were destroyed (burned) immediately after the fall of the regime, while names of popular and respected Bulgarians keep popping up as DS collaborators, spattering these people with mud.

Bulgaria failed to distinguish between agents in the field, those who really spied on friends, colleagues, and neighbors, and those summoned for a "talk" by a lazy DS recruiter who simply opened a file on them to account for doing work.

The vast majority of the Bulgarian elite were subjected to these recruiting attempts. As we read their names with bewilderment, sorrow and embarrassment, we will never know for certain who the real snitches were and who signed a piece of paper in order to protect their loved ones or simply entered the services' records as "person of interest."

Meanwhile, Bulgarians harbor reasonable doubt that many of the people who WERE the State Security pulled and still pull the strings in their country half a century later.

And this might very well be the true motive for the latest attempt to conceal them. This is not only unfair to those whose names have already been exposed; this amendment, tabled without any public debate, is a revanchist move and a totalitarian reflex, contradicting a number of local and international legal documents and masked behind populist rhetoric for reinstating social balance.

The Socialists say they demand the return of Paragraph 12 out of concern for the safety of the said intelligence officers and for possible threats on Bulgaria's national security.

However, current legislation already allows blocking the disclosure of the DS file of an intelligence officer in cases where a threat has been proven to exist.

So, intelligence chief X, currently heading agency Y, 30 years ago was DS agent Z... How is this threatening national security now? Somebody, please explain.

Moreover, the issue at hand is the national security of a country member of EU and NATO, whose rulers are attempting to provide cover-up for individuals largely trained in the trenches of the Soviet KGB and GRU (the Soviet military intelligence). What and whose national security are we talking about then?

"Catch 12" is an issue as explosive for a number of Bulgarians as is the "who suggested Delyan Peevski?" question (for Chief of National Security), which sparked a series of relentless and, in the summer, mass antigovernment protests.

The President already threatened to motion a "lonely" veto that will not pass because the feeble parliamentary majority will be definitely supported by the kingmaker extreme nationalists as coauthors of the amendments.

However, this is true if and only the government is here to stay.

A famous quote, attributed to US President, Abraham Lincoln says: "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time..."

Harsh winter is something inevitable. Obviously for many, and not just in experts' forecasts, this is likely to be a winter of huge discontent. Because when it arrives, those unfairly pushed to the corner and left in the cold by the failed economy policies of the transition period, will realize that the much purported social measures might just end up being empty promises.

In the wintertime, when these people comprehend that social assistance boils down to a couple of levs (for which all taxpayers will have to pay) and see utility bills skyrocket again above monthly wages, they are likely to join protests of Bulgarians outraged by scandalous appointments and attempts to rehabilitate the communist past.

And this will certainly dim the government's hopes for a full four-year term in office.

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Tags: Sergey Stanishev, lustration, Paragraph 12, Blue Coalition, GERB, Investment Ministry, archives, Peevski, Ataka, Socialists, State Security, state security agents, state security files, DS, secret service, communist-era security service, Files Commission, Dossier Act, military, intelligence, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, communist, communism


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