Worrying developments from Bulgaria
"We would like to bring to your attention some very worrying developments from Bulgaria. Currently, there is a caretaker government in the country, nominated by the pro-Kremlin President Rumen Radev. The main goal of the caretaker government is to organize fare and transparent parliamentary elections on 11 of July. Unfortunately, instead of this the caretaker government acts as President Radev’s campaign team for the presidential elections coming up this autumn. The methods they utilize are unfortunately the same as ones used by the communist police when repressing political opponents.
In a TV interview from 28 May, the Minister of Internal Affairs – Bojko Rashkov, made some threatening remarks, referring to his opponents and journalists:
“I hear some impudent statements from former people, maybe we should also lit someone up.”
“Former people” was the expression used by the communist regime in Bulgaria to refer to the opponents of the communist dictatorship – any royal officers, lawyers, teachers, clergy, business owners, merchants and manufacturers, diplomats and former politicians. The “former people” were the ones sent to labor camps, or to death; sometimes including some of their family members.
Rashkov appointed on 12 May as his Chief of Staff a person affiliated with Vasil Bozhkov – a gambling oligarch, who’s currently in hiding in Dubai, after 19 charges were filed against him in Bulgaria. Mr Bozhkov has political aspirations and is going to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. This most recent appointment of Ms Ficherova has raised eyebrows and worries that there might be links and dependencies between the current care-taker government of President Rumen Radev and the businessman-oligarch Bozhkov.
This is not the first such statement from Mr Rashkov. In one of the first days of his appointment he commented that “if I were the owner of the bTV TV channel, I would have sacked the two journalists”. The reason for this remark was that earlier in the day during an interview for the aforementioned TV channel, Mr Rashkov was asked the same question repeatedly since he was not providing a direct answer to it. Mr Rashkov began his professional career as an investigator during the Communist regime in Bulgaria and has been known to use some of the methods learned earlier in his career in more recent times – carrying out extremely long interrogations (over tens of hours); attempting to manipulate witnesses’ accounts of events.
Moreover, one of the government’s first actions was to fire the Director of the State Agency for National Security, known for his successful operation to break up a Russian spy network in the country. In any democracy, the participants in such an operation would be honored for their contribution to the protection of national and European security, respectively. Today in Bulgaria they are being fired.
Needless to say, such comments and overall attitude have no place in the our time and age, especially coming from a Minister of Interior. This is militia rhetoric that was permanently ingrained in the minds of the employees of the Ministry of Interior and the State Security prior to 1989. The re-occurrence of such rhetoric is scandalous – not only it sounds as a threat of going back to one of the darkest periods of Bulgaria’s history; it is also an extremely painful reminder to the families of all those who were victims of the communist regime of the injustices and crimes carried out by them. The care-taker government of President Radev is using some of the most terrible techniques of the communist regime – spreading lies, disinformation and threats to scare its opponents off.
We will continue to monitor the situation and inform you dully.
We remain at your disposal for further reference."