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News 18 Sep 17

Russian Prosecutor's Bulgarian Visit Sparks Controversy

News that Russia’s Prosecutor General, Yury Chayka, is visiting his Bulgarian colleague, Sotir Tsatsarov, this week, has caused controversy in Sofia.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Yury Chaika. Photo: The General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation

Sotir Tsatsarov has confirmed that Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chayka is visiting Bulgaria under the terms of a bilateral agreement for cooperation between the two countries, signed during the mandate of Bulgaria’s previous attorney general, Boris Velchev.

The Bulgarian prosecutor general said they would be signing an agreement on the joint training of prosecutors from the two countries, with the first one in the field of countering terrorism.

Tsatsarov did not specify when his colleague is arriving, despite media reports last Friday that the Russian’s top justice official was starting his visit on Monday. He promised also that “every step” of Chayka’s visit would be made public to the media.

A spokesperson for Tsatsarov on Friday could not confirm the first information about the Russian prosecutor general’s trip to Bulgaria, which had been leaked by several media outlets.

The news sparked controversy in Bulgaria. Chayka is serving a third mandate as attorney general of Russia and is famously loyal to the Kremlin.

He was accused of corruption in a documentary made by the Anti-Corruption Foundation of opposition leader Alexey Navalny in 2015.

In December 2015, Chayka dismissed accusations that his sons had built a business empire together with business associates from the Russian Tsapok criminal gang, suggesting that Navalny’s investigation had been paid for by foreign interests.

On Sunday, the small anti-corruption party “Yes, Bulgaria” which failed to enter the parliament in the snap election in March, called on the Bulgarian institutions to boycott meetings with the Russian prosecutor.

“This is a shameful act and we need to stand against it,” the party said in a declaration, published on its website.

It noted that Chayka has played a central role in the establishment of the authoritarian regime of President Vladimir Putin in Russia and accused Bulgaria’s general prosecutor of having similarities with his Russian colleague.

Chayka’s visit has been widely discussed on social networks, but none of Bulgaria’s main parties has commented on it.

On Monday, a sign reading “Chayka Out of Europe” was installed on a bridge on a main Sofia boulevard linking Sofia airport with the centre. It was removed shortly afterwards.

The office of the Russian prosecutor general could not be reached for comment.

 

 

 

 

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