Bulgaria’s Parliament created a Temporary Commission on the Immunities of Petkov and Borissov

Politics | June 14, 2023, Wednesday // 15:18|  views

Borissov (left) and Petkov (right) formed an unlikely alliance when they agreed on the rotating cabinet "Denkov-Gabriel"

After three hours of debate and with 186 votes "for" and 32 "against", the parliament created a temporary commission to decide whether to remove the immunity of the people's representatives Boyko Borissov and Daniel Alexandrov from GERB-SDS, Kiril Petkov from "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" (WCC-DB) and Dimitar Avramov from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). They were requested by the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev in order to seek criminal responsibility on various charges. The proposal for the formation of the commission was submitted by the parliamentary group of "We Continuing the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" and, apart from them, it was also supported by GERB-SDS, "Vazrazhdane" and DPS.

The commission's term of office will be until July 18, 2023. Desislava Atanasova and Raya Nazaryan from GERB-SDS, Nikola Minchev and Dimitar Naydenov from "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria", Hamid Hamid and Gunar Ahmed from DPS, Petar Petrov and Nikolay Drenchev from "Vazrazhdane" were approved as members. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and "There Is Such a People" (TISP) refused to send their representatives to the committee.

However, the National Assembly once again failed to appoint a chairman of the committee, after the deputies did not approve the DPS proposal for Hamid Hamid and the other three formations participating in it refused to appoint a leader. Thus, this committee becomes the next one with an unelected chairman, after the 49th National Assembly failed to nominate heads of standing committees due to lack of a governing majority, and an amendment had to be inserted in the rules of parliament, which would allow the chairman of the parliament Rosen Zhelyazkov to call committee meetings and determine who will lead them.

The leader of the GERB deputies in parliament Desislava Atanasova stated that those who refuse to participate in the commission, as well as those who refuse to participate in its leadership, in practice help the immunities of the four people's representatives to be neither revoked, nor the materials of the pre-trial proceedings to be discussed.

In the end, after no parliamentary group made another proposal for the chairman of the temporary committee, Rosen Zhelyazkov announced a break and called on the MPs in the coming days to come up with another mechanism to lead its meetings.

The most active participants in the debates on the creation of the commission were the MPs from "There Is Such a People", "Vazrazhdane" and GERB. However, the first to take the floor was the independent MP Radostin Vassilev, who left the parliamentary group of "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" after publishing in the public space a recording of a meeting of the party. Vassilev defined the proposers of a temporary commission - Miroslav Ivanov, Atanas Atanasov, Hristo Ivanov, Nikola Minchev and Nadezhda Yordanova - as the "launderers' league" and accused them of wanting to turn the National Assembly into an investigative body.

"This is a huge shame. You are doing exactly what you talked about in this council. I see that Kiril Petkov is also afraid to give up hi immunity. Give it up, because you wrapped yourself up with the mafia in such a way that you can no longer prove that this commission is being created with a legitimate purpose. You are performing the function of a crutch," Radostin Vassilev addressed "We Continue the Change".

According to the deputy chairman of "There Is Such a People", Toshko Yordanov, the refusal of Kiril Petkov and Boyko Borissov to voluntarily give their immunities proved that they feel guilty. "They are absolute cowards, they are not men in the spiritual sense," he believes.

Atanas Zafirov from BSP called the ruling majority between "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" and GERB "coalition of immunities and fear". He admitted that there is a practice in the parliament of creating a temporary committee to remove parliamentary immunity, but in his words, this time "we will not punish the disobedient, but we will protect the obedient". After that, Zafirov personally addressed Kiril Petkov, asking him what he was doing in this commission and called on him to remove his immunity.

"Vazrazhdane", on the other hand, expressed concern that if the commission is not created, "these persons will remain with immunities" and therefore stated that they are forced to vote for its formation. One of the lawyers in the party, Petar Petrov, suggested that the deputies consider the cases for only a week and that next Wednesday (June 21) a final decision be made in the plenary hall. However, the proposal was rejected.

GERB against BSP

GERB did not remain silent after the attacks by "Vazrazhdane", BSP and "There Is Such a People" and in turn attacked the people's representatives who spoke. According to GERB MP Manoil Manev, they are "pursuing the goal of the one who pressed the button - his political future and survival", and Georg Georgiev from the same political force reminded that "the prosecutor's office is in the Courthouse, not in the National Assembly".

In doing so, both of them mainly attacked BSP, implying that the party's behavior and its refusal to support a government with GERB's first term was due to pressure from the prosecutor's office, as the BSP's decision came just hours after Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev announced that he will not leave the post himself, accused GERB and its leader Boyko Borissov of being behind the attempt to remove him.

Georgiev also called the socialists "a party with waning functions, which can only afford to tell lies from this rostrum".

BSP leader Kornelia Ninova responded to the accusations with her own: according to her, in the last month the parallel state and the powers behind the scenes have regrouped in order to survive and continue to rule. "Today, it is claimed that the prosecutor's office is being used as a political club. However, the prosecutor's office does not judge, it only provides evidence. The court judges, therefore the prosecutor's office cannot be used as a political club," said Ninova and defined the statements as insinuations that the parties are carrying out the will of the Prosecutor General.

Her words were refuted by Georg Georgiev, who recalled that last year Ninova accused the prosecutor's office of an "internal party coup" because it had started an investigation on the tip of Kiril Dobrev. Then the leader of the Socialists said that the prosecutor's office had shown that it was an instrument against the inconvenient and "private prosecution for the powers behind the scenes".

That a temporary commission on immunities is needed to assess whether the request of the prosecutor's office is motivated and whether there is enough data for the removal of immunity in order to be sure that the prosecutor's office does not act as a political club, was the main thesis of "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria ". The co-chairman of the coalition Kiril Petkov supported it with the argument that it is not known what new evidence the prosecution has in the case of his Canadian citizenship in order to reopen the proceedings.

"What is different now? We will not let the prosecutor's office act as a political club and we will highlight every time someone allows himself to use the judicial power for his own purposes," said Petkov.

At the end of the debate, the other co-chairman of the coalition, Hristo Ivanov, joined in with a speech. He responded to political attacks for "laundering" Borissov by saying that whether someone will be washed or not depends on how the court will rule.

"The laundering is for the prosecution, not for one or the other," said Ivanov.

"The objective is to get to the truth about 'Barcelonagate' and about the other cases, under the conditions of no doubt about the objectivity of the prosecutor's office. When there is a ruling, let's be sure that it is based on objective justice," said Ivanov.

According to him, the parliament must decide whether it is a political conjuncture or a normal development of some proceedings. "The question is for the prosecutor's office to come here and explain how they suddenly started seeing, whether they saw through because some people were Geshev's friends until now, but after they stopped being his friends, he began to take revenge on them, or the prosecutor's office will find a way to correct the situation and will convince us that it is about the separation of powers".

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Tags: immunity, Borissov, Petkov, Commission


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