The protest movement is the culmination of long-standing grievances against endemic corruption and state capture, particularly associated with prime minister Boyko Borisov's governments, in power since 2009. Taiwan: Major general charged in corruption scandal. It would be great if the western public, citizens and decision-makers take that into consideration, when dipping their toes into our Bulgarian contradictions. Learn how your comment data is processed. The embodiment of this specific ‘Bulgarian anti-corruption model’ is Ivan Geshev, who became the chief prosecutor in 2019 after a number of well-publicised anti-corruption activities he had previously enacted as a deputy chief prosecutor. Political crisis in Bulgaria sparks protests and outrage. How will the public judge what is good, or whether the road undertaken travels in the right direction? So, the anti-corruption protests in Bulgaria and the fight of Bulgarian civil society for rule of law and democratic reforms are everybody’s business. In the new Debates Digital talk, cultural anthropologist Ivaylo Ditchev gives unique insight into the on-going anti-corruption protests that have spread across Bulgaria since July. He is said to control or influence many other local media and websites, that he does not officially own. Their health and jobs are more precarious, their journeys more perilous and their resettlement often suspended. These competing anti-corruption formulas are now clashing, as they contain irreconcilable differences regarding the nature of the Chief Prosecutor’s office. The Balkan nation, ranked as the most corrupt EU member state by the graft watchdog Transparency International, has yet to convict a single senior official of corruption. This opened the door for the abuse of power and the public perception of this abuse that has now triggered another round of protests. Borissov dominated the political landscape for more than a decade. Is the Bulgarian deep state interested in some form of muddy political water, in which all the unaware and naive players will unveil their agendas, while the political elites gradually manage a new equilibrium that fits the changing international context? In mid-August, in an attempt to assuage public anger, Borissov said he would step down once the lawmakers elected a Grand National Assembly to amend the constitution. Others believe that the protesters are incensed by the country’s rampant graft and argue the two men (the prime minister and the public prosecutor) have allowed oligarchs to influence core institutions such as the judiciary and abuse them for their personal gain. Is the anti-corruption agenda all that it’s cracked up to be? USA: Apple security chief’s attempt to bribe police with iPads. What are the values, the goals, the approaches, the indicators of success of each of their versions of anti-corruption? But one exception – “The pre-2017 ‘golden era’ of anti-corruption in Romania was a fake” – was the thoroughgoing 2019 interview on Romanian justice for the Bulgarian site “The Barricade” by the Romanian anti-corruption expert Codru Vrabie. Vatican: Cardinal Becciu forced out in rare resignation. If you have any queries about republishing please contact us. Meanwhile, the EPP tried to deprive the resolution of its original intent. Nigeria: Corruption and illicit flow of funds. Anti-government protests in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 14, 2020. It could equally be claimed that it is a very Bulgarian battle. The Bulgarian middle class seemed to envy their Romanian counterpart, for its degree of empowerment as a result of the ongoing Romanian anti-corruption effort. Bulgaria is gripped in a political crisis, its biggest since 2013, when sustained protests against corruption brought down a center-left government. This is a perfect storm, in which two visions for anti-corruption seem to be operating against one another and both of them, sincerely or not, claim the Romanian anti-corruption model as the source of inspiration. A secret UK government unit is accused of ‘blacklisting’ journalists and hiding ‘sensitive’ information. Or is it rather the oligarchy which finds new ways to strengthen itself? It gradually cleansed the political landscape of the dinosaurs of the post-communist transition period. Since then, thousands of protesters have been lining the streets of Sofia daily demanding reforms addressing corruption. The Eight Dwarves is the name of a restaurant in Sofia, where a meeting took place that has come to epitomize the national malaise. The Bulgarian anti-corruption model started to take shape around the person and the activity of Ivan Geshev. In 2016, Borisov claimed in an interview for Nova TV that, in contrast to Romania, there were no convicted Bulgarian ministers because no one in the government was corrupt. Currently, in the widespread popular protest, the division between the middle class and the oligarchs has come to dominate Bulgarian society and politics, just as was the case in Romania. Interviews with Romanian experts rarely offer any clarity on what has happened in Romania in recent years. Demonstrators have gathered in Sofia every evening since early July. Nowadays, a specific, Bulgarian form of “TV justice” takes place well before the court’s decision.  Street demonstrations against Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov that have been running for almost two months now. Bulgaria currently ranks 111th in the world in the World Press Freedom Index. The community demands a limit on the Chief Prosecutor’s prerogatives, a reduced political quota on the Supreme Judicial Council and a stronger role for the judges in this institution. Your email address will not be published. Underlying this clash of models is the Romanian anti-corruption formula, which was popular in Bulgaria until 2017-2018. Therefore we understand each other [perfectly].”, “The pre-2017 ‘golden era’ of anti-corruption in Romania was a fake”. The prosecution’s investigations into two cabinets of the presidency were one of the sparks that ignited the current protests. Protesters responded with chants of "Geshev is a disgrace!" The Romanian justice system is no longer plastered over the Bulgarian press. This seems to be the position not only of the younger generation, but also of the urban middle class. If the leaders of those currents fail to start explaining and debating their actions in a more lucid manner, these squabbles will become a meaningless spectacle, and the citizens might well fall back into their all too habitual apathy. Resignation of justice minister and sacking of 3 government ministers have not abated the wave of protests. Recently there has been a growing clash between two approaches to anti-corruption in Bulgaria. In 2013, massive protests resulted in the resignation of the first Borisov government. The protests in Bulgaria clearly open the debate whether the rule of law remains the central shared value for all Europeans. This model of anti-corruption empowered the middle class, the people with higher incomes, the businesses. Because of the high-level corruption, governmental abuses and the lack of judicial independence, Bulgaria demonstrates … The pandemic has forced the closure of borders and worsened the lives of migrants and refugees throughout the world. But in spite of the many articles about Kövesi’s successful operations, despite her Bulgarian lecture tour, the Romanian anti-corruption model remained more of a slogan or a rallying point, than something that was understood conceptually or socially. But it may involve various international partners and actors if it remains undecided. Corruption is a source of profound public discontent. Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov remains defiant in the face of anti-government protests Indonesia: Maritime and fisheries minister nabbed by anti-graft body. The 2013 Bulgarian protests against the first Borisov cabinet spread to over 30 cities and were marked by seven self-immolations, five of which were fatal. During that whole period it certainly wasn’t soothing for the Bulgarian prime minister Borisov to have to listen to the high praise of the Romanian judicial system. "Corruption and the justice deficit is a terminal issue," says Dimitar Bechev, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. The constitution allows the parliament to overrule presidential vetoes with a simple majority. Marching is the easy part in these protests. On August 10, 2020, members of DiEM25’s Sofia1 DSC sat down with Nikolay Hadjigenov and Arman Babikyan from the “Poisoning Trio”, widely considered the initiators and coordinators of the anti-totalitarian and pro-democratic protests of 2020 in Bulgaria. In fact, the Romanian anti-corruption model is marked by a number of peculiarities. Only in 2020, … At that time, few efforts were made to elucidate the essence of the Romanian anti-corruption model. But the ethical higher ground is only the beginning, not the end, of what this protest is all about. The model of anti-corruption based on a powerful Chief Prosecutor’s office thus came to be seen in Bulgaria as a path towards a European standard of living. ”Justice for All” has 7 key ideas for judicial reform that aim at limiting the power of the chief prosecutor as well as reducing political influence over the judicial system, through limiting the quota of the parliament in the high magistrates’ council. The protest is branded as an “ethical” one, beyond right and left, which unites the honest and disgusted people against the privileged elites. Please check individual images for licensing details. Curiously, apart from its orientation against President Radev, Bulgarian anti-corruption policy selects as its target some of the economic elites that have formed their corporate networks in the transition period. Overview of the recent protests. On September 2, the two-month-long anti-governmental protests in Bulgaria entered the most violent stage to date. It turned out that what was imported from Romania was the idea of an unrestrained chief prosecutor. Corruption widespread in Bulgaria . Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress. You [the people] are stupid too. The Romanian anti-corruption model has been criticised for what was called in Romania “TV justice” – exposing various infamous people under arrest and handcuffed on primetime Romanian television. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. The Bulgarian prosecution publicises audio recordings and the chat messages of people who are not yet sentenced as guilty, but who are suspected of a crime. Do we see attempts of the state to limit the all-powerful oligarchy through a complex process of competition over anti-corruption? Is the fight for something more than power? In my view the interest of Bulgarians lies in social change. Or is it an attempt to enlarge the scope of the anti-corruption campaign and target also the oligarchs who have hitherto enjoyed political protection? 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