EXCLUSIVE. The well-known Bulgarian investigative journalist Valia Ahchieva has forced the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) to obtain the belated recognition of Sofia Ilinden Municipality that this administration had issued without a legal basis documents for Bulgarian citizenship to Alexei Trifonov, now chairman of the Sofia City Court. Thus, Ahchieva obtained evidence that the Supreme Judicial Council elected a foreigner, masquerading as a Bulgarian citizen, as its chairman. As a consequence, are the convictions issued by the Sofia City Court with such an illegitimate chairman legal? The same applies for two other courts where he has worked as judge… And what is hiding behind the silence of the Bulgarian authorities?
Ahchieva provided her investigation exclusively for EUelectionsBulgaria.com, a free journalistic territory created by Georgi Gotev in Brussels. The media wishing to quote or reprint this publication are expected to clearly name the original source.
By Valya Achchieva
After months of concealment of the information concerning the citizenship of Alexei Trifonov, the truth finally emerged that the chairman of the Sofia City Court shouldn’t have Bulgarian citizenship, according to the official documents.
The Sofia Municipality, district of Ilinden, after the explicit request of the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) revealed that the Birth certificate, which they compiled in their municipal administration in 1988 – 16 years after the birth of Alexey in Kursk, USSR, is in fact composed without any legal basis.
I have been asking this question several times since April, both to the Ministry of Justice and the Ilinden District.
The responses of the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mrs. Desislava Ahladova, to questions about the Bulgarian citizenship of Alexei Trifonov, were detailed and well-substantiated. From there it became clear that the chairman of the Sofia City Court has a dubious Bulgarian citizenship. Because neither the law in force by 1972, the time of Alexei’s birth – the Law of Bulgarian Citizenship, nor the then-existing international treaty – the Convention between the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the USSR on preventing the emergence of dual citizenship, didn’t allow Alexei to receive Bulgarian citizenship at birth. Deputy Minister Ahladova argued in her replies that Alexey Trifonov had not applied and had not acquired Bulgarian citizenship by naturalisation, on the grounds of having one parent Bulgarian citizen. He actually had such a legal opportunity.
And while the Ministry of Justice was answering my questions, the Ilinden District Municipal Administration refused to do so. There they sent around my questions in different directorates, and they even misled me that they would answer under the Access to Public Information Act. Indeed, the issue concerns an important public figure that must meet certain statutory requirements in order to carry out its functions for the benefit of society. But ultimately the Ilinden District refused my access to the information, ignoring the overriding public interest.
I wasn’t asking them for Alexei’s personal data. I asked them on what legal basis the Civil Status Officer issued the Birth certificate of 16-year-old Alexei Trifonov in 1988? And on the basis of what documents submitted by his parents his Birth certificate was drawn up, and he was given a citizen number (EGN) and was then entered in the Register of Bulgarian Citizens?
For three months the Ilinden District didn’t bother to answer.
Although the laws and regulations in our country are public, they are promulgated in the State Gazette and are not classified. That’s what the law says. There are no secret legal norms.
But only these days, pressed by the Supreme Administrative Court, the Ilinden District admitted that in the municipality a Birth certificate of a Bulgarian citizen was issued by this administration – that of Alexei, 16 years after his birth in the USSR, without the existence of any supporting documents!
There is no Declaration under the Convention between the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the USSR – Article 5 paragraph 2, that his two parents – a Bulgarian father and a mother Soviet citizen, have chosen Bulgarian nationality for their child!
The fact that the Ilinden District was so far hiding this information is really perplexing.
But even more shocking is the inactivity of all bodies that have legal competence in the case.
And this is the reason why.
The case of the dubious citizenship of the president of the biggest court in Bulgaria became public in April – with my investigation in two publications (on this website). Three months have passed since then. But no action has been taken to annul Alexei’s Birth certificate, which was issued without a legal basis. Those who should have done so are the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works and the Ministry of Justice, according to Art. 113 and Art. 115 of the Civil Registration Act.
The Ministry of Justice should have long ago made an inquiry over the public suspicions that the President of the Sofia City Court has no Bulgarian citizenship. So it should have requested the documents from the Ilinden District. And then, it should have issued an Opinion – was the Birth certificate issued illegally? And if so, the birth certificate of Alexei Trifonov should have been declared null and void.
There are dozens of such cases in the practice of the Ministry of Justice. But in the Alexei case, the Ministry of Justice chose to pretend it does not understand what it is all about? Why?
If we add the fact that Minister of Justice Danail Kirilov is responsible for the implementation of the Bulgarian Citizenship Act and he chairs the meetings of the Supreme Judicial Council, our doubts are reinforced that somebody really does not want this case to be solved.
Why the Minister of Justice doesn’t want to apply the law?
Isn’t the principle of the rule of law violated by the failure to take action?
We cannot pretend to ignore that the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) chose a person without Bulgarian citizenship as chairman of the largest court in Bulgaria on 27.11.2018. And it happened only a month after the public scandal with the sale of Bulgarian citizenship, which became public as a result of the joint action of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office and the Commission for countering corruption and confiscation of unlawfully obtained property (KPKONPI).
Twenty people were arrested in the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, and Deputy Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev said that this was a trade with the Bulgarian nationhood.
How do we explain that the then Minister of Justice Tsetska Tsacheva and the VSS, whose members have extensive experience in investigations and law enforcement, have not noticed the fact that they are choosing a candidate who is not born in Bulgaria and should be checked for citizenship status?
Why does the scandal with the arrests and the Bulgarian citizenship not prompt the VSS and the Inspectorate to make an elementary check – is Alexey Trifonov a Bulgarian citizen?
Why has the VSS closed its eyes before that line in Alexei’s biography that he was born in 1972 in the city of Kursk, USSR?
It is also amazing that the same fact did not impress the then caretaker Minister of Justice Mrs. Maria Pavlova. Because she proposed Alexei Trifonov as Deputy Minister of Justice in the “Gerdjikov” caretaker cabinet. By the way, they know each other since the beginning of their magistrate career when they started their job as investigators in 1998. And this stopover of Alexei Trifonov at the Ministry of Justice as Deputy Minister for less than 2 months was the main argument of the VSS to elect him in as President of the Sofia City Court. Why has the VSS checked Alexei’s personal and moral qualities, and has not verified the first requirement of the Judiciary Act – that every magistrate must be a Bulgarian citizen only?
Because if a magistrate is not a Bulgarian citizen, he or she cannot work as a magistrate – as prosecutor, judge or investigator.
Who will now be held responsible for the verdicts pronounced by Alexei Trifonov as a criminal judge after he has not met the basic requirement of the law throughout his 21-year magistrate’s practice? Are his convictions rendered null and void in the three courts where he has served during that time – regional, appellate and city court?
Because the fate of persons who had expected a fair trial in a Bulgarian court was actually solved by an outlaw magistrate – a foreigner masquerading as a Bulgarian citizen!
Will now, after this revelation, when the truth became plain to see, the prosecutor’s office in Bulgaria seize itself and check who committed this violation in the Ilinden District Municipal Administration?
And exactly how many officials from different administrations have failed to act in violation of the law?
Is there a crime? And is this an isolated case in creating a Bulgarian identity?
And now, while the state authorities are pretending they don’t know that the Supreme Administrative Court has ordered an examination of the Bulgarian citizenship of Alexei Trifonov, the latter, although temporarily admitted to the post, managed to form his own team, to appoint vice-presidents of the Sofia City Court and to create work rules.
However, the Aliens Act in Bulgaria is very clear.
According to this legislation, if Alexei’s personal documents as a Bulgarian citizen are to be canceled and if he doesn’t present another valid ID from another country, then he would be placed at the Temporary accommodation centre for illegal migrants in Busmantsi.
This is the paradox in a state where there is no rule of law: a person who must be in the home for temporary accommodation of illegal migrants, the same person actually … manages the largest court in Bulgaria.