By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgaria’s Protest Network, the group that arose out of protests demanding the resignation of the now-outgoing government, has alleged that Bulgaria Without Censorship leader Nikolai Barekov broke political party funding rules by using an NGO to skirt donation limits.
The Protest Network said on July 31 that it had provided details of the allegations to Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov.
It is the second time that the Protest Network levels allegations against Barekov.
In February 2014, the network handed to the Prosecutor-General’s office, with copies to other state institutions and foreign law enforcement partners of Bulgaria, a dossier based on media reports of allegations against Barekov, controversial figure Delyan Peevski and Corporate Commercial Bank majority shareholder Tsvetan Vassilev.
The February dossier resulted in investigations involving various state institutions, including tax authorities. Barekov, Peevski and Vassilev – whose bank currently is under central bank special supervision – all deny any wrongdoing.
The July 31 complaint to the Prosecutor-General by the Protest Network is based on the law that bars individuals from donating more than 10 000 leva (about 5000 euro) in a year to a political party.
The Protest Network alleges that Barekov skirted this by funneling money through an NGO also called Bulgaria Without Censorship (the name of the populist political party and the NGO arose from a television roadshow that was the advent of Barekov’s political career in 2013).
The network said that the NGO was a non-profit with no right to political activity. The money allegedly was funneled, in turn, through the Evromaiki organisation, affiliated to Barekov’s party, to BWC coffers.
Separately, earlier reports identified Barekov’s BWC as the biggest spender in Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections, in which his party won two of Bulgaria’s 17 MEP seats, one for Barekov himself.
Barekov, a former talk show host, has been having a torrid time lately.
Nationalist VMRO walked out of its coalition with Barekov’s BWC to join up with the ultra-nationalist National Movement for the Salvation of Bulgaria in the country’s October 5 early parliamentary elections. Individuals also have quit BWC.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Barekov was to be questioned by the Prosecutor’s office in connection with allegations that he levelled against Boiko Borissov, leader of centre-right GERB. These allegations involved Borissov having worked for communist-era secret service State Security and having been named in a report several years back on drug dealing networks.
The respective authorities, including the outgoing interior minister in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, have denied the allegations mentioned by Barekov.
Barekov alleges that he is the target of a conspiracy to bring him down politically, a “sinister, well-crafted script,” he told local media.
“The scenario that destroyed Corporate Commercial Bank is now being operated against me. The same people who wrecked the bank now seek to break the party by artificial means and get us out of the elections,” Barekov said.
He denied receiving any money from Corpbank’s Vassilev to finance BWC.