VARNA, Bulgaria—Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, leader of the leftist Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), has given up his immunity from prosecution in the face of pressure from the country's state attorney and the Bulgarian Parliament, after Stanishev allegedly leaked state secrets.
All 240 members of Parliament have immunity, which keeps them protected from arrest or judicial proceedings against them. The idea of the immunity is to provide the members with the freedom to execute their mandates. Parliament can vote to remove immunity, or the Parliament member could surrender the protection.
State Attorney Boris Veltchev has demanded Stanishev to be questioned in an investigation where he is suspected of losing important state secrets in the form documents. The state attorney wrote in a letter to the Bulgarian Parliament on Nov. 3 that the Parliament will need to vote on taking away Stanishev's immunity, as he will be questioned on charges.
According to the socialists, the ongoing investigation against Stanishev aims to divert public attention from the sparse state budget, planned for 2010. The press center of the BSP often issues press releases announcing that the scheduled budget allotments for health care, education, and pensions are much lower than those from last year.
After Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (from the centrist ruling party GERB) brought up the issue, Stanishev, who served as Bulgarian prime minister from 2005 to 2009, declared in front of the Parliament Chair Tsetska Tsacheva his wish to be deprived of member of Parliament immunity. This was announced by the BSP press center. “If they think my member of Parliament immunity will solve their problem with the thin next year’s state budget, I assume it will work very shortly,” said Stanishev to media in the Parliament building.
According to Stanishev, the investigation against him is part of a campaign of the new rulers against his party, the BSP, and two other political parties of the former triple coalition which lost the elections in July this year after a four years’ mandate.
Since then, the BSP has been constantly under attack not only by the GERB but also by the rest of the Parliament members. Even the BSP’s late partner, the Turkish-oriented Movement for Rights and Freedoms, also supports Borisov in his attempts to bring to light the violations of the former political rulers.
The Standart Daily quoted Stanishev as saying, “Political actions against me aim to divert public attention, generate smoke; they make political campaigns in order to avoid a debate on the essential problems in the country.” According to him, the current government is incapable of solving the real problems of Bulgaria.
Two Cases of Information Leakage
The State Attorney’s Office is currently working on two criminal claims, related to an information leak, according to Sofia District Attorney Nikolai Kokinov on national Darik Radio.
Kokinov explained that one claim is related to a report which has been recently announced in public that unveiled the relations between politicians and journalists, as well as their being wire tapped by the State Agency for National Security. Kokinov emphasized that the blame for the exposure can be almost entirely put on Stanishev.
According to the Sofia district attorney, “by negligent actions upon handling classified information, not abiding by law stipulations, unwittingly and imprudently, Stanishev has caused the information to leak in public air.”
Some think that the report which caused the demand for depriving Stanishev of immunity is merely insinuation. Last month, a 26-page report titled “Reference Regarding Persons and Circles Destructively Influencing Ministries’ Functions and State Administration Structures” appeared online.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who was the first to announce the existence of the report, alleges the information had been inappropriately brought out of the Council of Ministers by Stanishev. The authenticity of the document cannot be proven but the State Attorney’s Office has initiated a pre-judicial procedure against unknown executors for disclosing classified information.
The second case is about eight documents, lost by the State Agency for National Security. Later, the documents appeared mysteriously in the Council of Ministers and then were submitted to the former premier minister.
Kokinov also noted that the prosecution will investigate the sources that published the report on the Internet.