news 15 Apr 13

Bulgarian Wire-Tapping Scandal Escalates Before Polls

The Bulgarian prosecutor said an investigation had uncovered a series of wiretapping violations at the country’s interior ministry after allegations that top politicians were bugged.

Novinite.com
Sofia

Chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov told a press conference on Monday that the probe had revealed numerous violations related to the deployment of surveillance equipment and the oversight of bugging operations.

Tsatsarov said that the investigation had uncovered official misconduct and the improper use of wiretapping equipment.

He said that pre-trial proceedings had been launched against three directors at the interior ministry’s technical operations unit and one of its employees.

The new revelations follow allegations last month that political leaders and business figures were subjected to illegal surveillance.

They come as Bulgaria gets ready to vote in parliamentary polls on May 12 after the former government collapsed amid protests.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party said the country’s former interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who was part of the last government, should stop campaigning for the elections because of the wiretapping scandal.

“Such practices are unacceptable in all European countries,” said Sergey Stanishev, the leader of the Socialists who were in opposition to the last government but have the largest number of party members in Bulgaria.

Stanishev told reporters on Monday that Tsvetanov was “directly responsible” for the unregulated bugging.

The former interior minister is running for parliament and also heading the election headquarters of the centre-right GERB party, which is hoping for a swift return to office.

The prosecutor’s announcement came after the official start of the general election campaign in Bulgaria on April 12, with GERB currently leading in the opinion polls.

On March 28, Stanishev informed Tsatsarov about the alleged illegal wiretapping of politicians, businessmen and magistrates, which is said to have taken place while GERB was in power and Tsatsarov was the country’s police chief.

According to Stanishev’s tip-off, the list of people who were bugged includes current President Rosen Plevneliev, former President Georgi Parvanov, right-wing leader and former Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, nationalist leader Volen Siderov, former finance minister Simeon Djankov and Bulgaria’s EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

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