By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Martin Ivanov, who in the past two years initiated innovations at the state archives agency and was keen on the idea of a museum on the communist-era State Security secret service, has become the latest top official to be purged by the Bulgarian Socialist Party government.
He is to be replaced by a retired long-term Interior Ministry and State Agency for National Security official. Comments by Bulgarians on social networks said that the new chief of the agency’s career spans the time that communist-era archives were destroyed as Bulgaria headed for its transition from the era of communist dictator Todor Zhivkov. Media reports said that he had been the long-serving head of the archives at the Interior Ministry during the time of the declassification of police records.
Ivanov, appointed to head the state archives agency in 2011, initiated digitalization of records, uploaded Politburo files on to the internet, as well as the police files of Zhivkov, 1950s Bulgarian communist strongman Vulko Chervenkov, and others.
Ivanov’s work facilitated the work of historians and researchers who were able to access materials on key themes in Bulgaria’s 20th century history online. The agency also posted online material and photos related to the Jewish community in Bulgaria, a move linked to the initiative to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Holocaust death camps of the Nazis.
Bulgarian website Mediapool reported that Ivanov learnt of his impending dismissal from the media. It came on a day when other changes were effected, part of the process whereby the current minority government, in power since May 2013, has been grasping to consolidate its power, in large part by sweeping personnel changes in a range of posts – especially the security sector, but also a number of other strategically-important ones.
The same day, August 27, as the news broke of Ivanov’s dismissal, the head of the InvestBulgaria Agency, Borislav Stefanov, resigned.
Stefanov, whose academic qualifications include having graduated from the Harvard Business School and who prior to his appointment to head the agency had an impressive private sector career, said that in the past three months he had not had a meeting with the government to discuss investments.
He noted that during his time at the head of the agency, in spite of the crisis, investors in the outsourcing and automotive industry had been attracted to Bulgaria, and a major campaign to promote investment in Bulgaria had been launched in significant international media.
Local media said that State Fund Agriculture chief Roumen Porozhanov and his deputy Svilen Kostov had resigned, for personal reasons. Porozhanov, before being appointed in 2011 to head the fund, was chief of staff to Simeon Dyankov, then finance minister in Boiko Borissov’s centre-right government. Mediapool noted that Porozhanov had worked previously with Plamen Oresharski, current occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government, when Oresharski was finance minister in the 2005/09 socialist-led tripartite coalition government.
Also on August 27, Regional Development Minister Dessislava Terzieva appointed Stefan Chaikov as chairperson of the board at Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency.
In presenting Chaikov to the media at a news conference, Terzieva said that Chaikov had extensive experience in the industry and would play a key role in ensuring continuity at the helm of the agency. Chaikov said that the main tasks he would focus on would be to increase “the agency’s expert potential” and draft a long-term strategy for the rehabilitation, repairs and maintenance of Bulgaria’s roads until 2020.
Chaikov was previously the head of the road construction industry chamber, a position to which he was elected in 2011. Mediapool said that he owned stakes in about a dozen companies that carry out road construction planning and oversight, but was yet to formally step down from managerial positions in such companies or transfer his shares.
His predecessor, Lazar Lazarov, would stay on as a member of the road infrastructure agency’s board of directors, Terzieva said.
Lazarov, appointed under the previous administration, was allowed to stay as head of the agency for an additional two months to oversee the final stages of work on several motorway projects – including the last stretch of Trakiya motorway (where one of Chaikov’s company’s was hired to do quality assurance), a stretch of Struma motorway near Dupnitsa and the link between the Sofia ring road and Hemus motorway.