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Two events: one inside, another outside the European Parliament

Radan Kanev [first left] and protesters outside the EP on 10 September 2019. [Georgi Gotev]

By Georgi Gotev

Two events took place simultaneously on Tuesday (10 September) inside and outside the European Parliament in Brussels. The first was the inauguration of an exhibition marking the 140th anniversary of the Bulgarian constitution. Bulgaria’s Parliament chief Tsveta Karayancheva was present, together with European Parliament President David Sassoli and almost all the Bulgarian MEPs. Lots of journalists were there (most of them arrived by the special plane carrying Karayancheva, as well as soloists of the Plovdiv Opera).

European Parliament President David Sassoli speaks at the opening of the exhibition, surrounded by Bulgarian MEPs. [Georgi Gotev]

It’s good to see Bulgarian MEPs across the board together, at events of national importance. It often happens that Bulgarian MEPs boycott events organised by colleagues from rival political groups. This was not the case this time.

Simultaneously, another event was taking place just in front of the EP building: a group of Bulgarians living in Belgium protested against the nomination of Ivan Geshev as Chief Prosecutor General, in replacement of Sotir Tsatsarov. In Bulgaria, such protest are commonplace. NGOs including Boets, as well as political parties sometimes called “the urban Right” (of centre-right ideology, but opposed to Boyko Borissov’s GERB), are spearheading the effort to stop the appointment.

The Wikipedia page concerning Geshev is well-written and factual. Indeed, Geshev’s time in office has been characterized by highly publicized show arrests, speculative criminal proceedings, and controversial public statements in interviews and press conferences. Among other things, he has said he doesn’t believe in the separation of powers. Besides, the Bulgarian prosecution remains unreformed : the chief prosecutor has enormous powers and no control. Some of the protestors in Brussels said this smacks of communism, and argued that those who support Geshev want this to continue forever.  

Only one MEP, Radan Kanev (Democrats from Strong Bulgaria/EPP), was with the protestors outside the EP. When I asked him if more people would be gathered outside the parliament, if the two events had not coincided, he answered negatively. Many in Bulgaria, including mainstream politicians, are afraid to oppose the nomination of Geshev, fearing reprisals. On the visible side, the media of Delyan Peevski, the magnate who supports Geshev, hit hard at the critics. Recently one of Peevski’s media published revenge porn, in an attempt to harm a candidate for mayor of Sofia from Democratic Bulgaria, a small party from the ‘urban Right’.

The poster reads: “Who elects Geshev?” The faces are Geshev’s, Borissov’s, Peevski (smiling), Sotir Tsatsarov and Ahmed Dogan, historic leader of DPS party.

What I find more disturbing is that I was the only journo outside. Inside, there were no less than 20 Bulgarian journalists, including big names. It wasn’t so difficult to attend both events – my photos are the proof.

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