Ivan Geshev’s Impunity

Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council has been resorting to creative procedural tricks to avoid examining two requests by two Ministers of Justice for the dismissal of controversial General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev for actions and omissions in office undermining the prestige of the judiciary. Earlier this month, I wrote an article for the Verfassungsblog discussing why the Supreme Judicial Council is among the main reasons why a sitting General Prosecutor of Bulgaria can abuse his office or commit other crimes with impunity. Essentially, this body is one of the main threats to the rule of law in Bulgaria. You can read my article “Impunity: The Unbearable Difficulty of Dismissing a General Prosecutor for Abuses of Office and Other Crimes” here.

The question of Ivan Geshev’s dismissal became even more pertinent in light of the refusal of the Prosecutor’s Office to raise charges against former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who was arrested earlier in March, despite evidence gathered by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior. Last week, I spoke to the Finnish political magazine Suomen Kuvalehti about the corruption of Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office and why it transpires that the current Chief European Prosecutor Laura Kövesi is helping to expose it. You can read their detailed article with some quotes from me here. Bulgaria’s rule of law decay is not just visible from Finland – German media critical of Angela Merkel’s CDU are also concerned about Borissov’s corruption which is being shielded by Ivan Geshev. You can read the coverage of Borissov’s arrest and its implications by Jungle World with some quotes by me here.

The Implications of Bulgaria’s Wiretapping Scandal

Earlier this month, I was invited to write a commentary about the raid which the Prosecutor’s Office orchestrated against the Ministry of Interior. The Prosecutor’s Office attacked the ministry shortly after the Minister of Interior Boyko Rashkov made public statements that the opposition had been illegally wiretapped after the start of mass protests in 2020, which, in essence, exposes the criminal activity of the Prosecutor’s Office.

I was compelled to tell the very sad tale of what Bulgarians who are inconvenient for the Prosecutor’s Office or the status quo endure. Framing, raiding, tampering with evidence, criminalizing facts which cannot constitute a crime, etc. are signature practices of the Prosecutor’s Office which flourished under General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev. At this stage, the reality in Bulgaria is truly Kafkaesque.

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The Short-Lived 45th Bulgarian National Assembly

Believe it or not, many foreign scholars and civil society members are also interested in the abuses of Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev. The mass protests against him and Borissov’s third government in 2020 made more people aware of the rule of law decay in Bulgaria.

Unsurprisingly, when the 45th Bulgarian National Assembly started functioning in April 2021, I received an email from a colleague asking me if it were true that Ivan Geshev would be removed from office.

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Will Borissov’s Government Survive This Summer?

As you probably know, mass protests erupted in Bulgaria on 9 July 2020 after Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office raided Bulgaria’s Presidency in an attempt to orchestrate a coup. Bulgarians demand the immediate resignation of Boyko Boriossov’s government and controversial General Prosecutor Ivan Geshev who engages in politically motivated prosecutions in violation of the Constitution, the ECHR, and the EU Charter. President Rumen Radev is the only critic of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov who has a high position in the state and Bulgaria’s Presidency is essentially the only institution which has not been fully captured. In June 2020, way before the protests started, I wrote this article for New Eastern Europe: “Bulgaria: will Borissov’s government survive this summer?”. It does not cover the protests, but I think it will further showcase to you why citizens are on the streets. Nearly 100,000 people protested in Sofia on 15 July 2020. We are about to see if my title is prophetic.

Spectacular Televised Arrests, Media Trials, and Abuse of Process: The Presumption of Guilt in Bulgaria

“Bulgaria’s Prosecution applies Bulgarian law according to which the guilty ones become accused and that is the purpose of criminal proceedings.”[1] Sadly, this was a comment before the media made by Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in light of an accusation Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office raised in 2017.

Bulgaria is an EU member and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, haunted by totalitarian tradition, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office applies a presumption of guilt – a major abuse of fundamental rights, which has severe consequences for suspects and accused alike.

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