ISSN 2330-717X

Bulgaria: Bedroom Photos Leave PM Borissov Red-faced

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By Svetoslav Todorov*

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is facing a torrid time after photos of a weapon and stacks of cash allegedly taken in his bedroom were leaked to the media.

“Borissov voluntarily handed over the government of Bulgaria to behind-the-scenes powers and is therefore part of all of this,” opposition Socialist Party leader Korneliya Ninova told national television on Thursday.

“We are left without institutions that can clearly, with respect for human dignity and without a doubt of their independence, answer the extremely important question of whether this is a form of a deep fake, or whether what is shown after all reflects reality,” Hristo Ivanov, leader of the opposition Da, Bulgaria (Yes, Bulgaria) party mused on Facebook on Thursday.

The low-resolution photos done with a phone and leaked from an anonymous source on the morning of June 17 show Borissov sleeping by a nightstand stacked with 500 euro bills and a pistol.

Later, surrounded by his GERB party members, Borissov gave a rambling hour-long press conference. “The goal is to crush us mentally, then physically,” he claimed, implying that his opponents were behind everything because “nobody can beat me in elections”.

He did not specify who exactly the opponents were. But he also accused the same political opponents of trying to undermine his government in order to block Bulgaria’s deeper integration into the European Union.

During his monologue, he seemingly denied the photos, then seemingly confirmed them, never explicitly saying whether they were true or fake. He also implied that President Rumen Radev, with whom relations are tense, was stalking him with a personal drone.

Borissov also cracked a few jokes. “At least they didn’t photograph me with a little boy in bed, I’d throw myself from the balcony if that was the case,” he jested.

Later on Thursday, President Radev said that he indeed owned a drone but everything else was “just Borissov’s fantasy and paranoia”. He added: “I can’t comment on everything Borissov claims. My imagination has its limits.”

Borissov also didn’t confirm a clear stance on leaked audio from the previous week in which a voice similar to his can be heard discussing several affairs and people in a slurred manner, while making several curses. The prosecution said it had launched an investigating into both the audio and the photo leak.

The scandals unfold as Borissov faces other challenges. His former GERB ally, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, announced on June 17 that he had left the party and will be focusing on a new unnamed party. Earlier this June, the oligarch-in-exile Vassil Bojkov also announced a new political movement, to be called Bulgarian Summer.

On June 17, meanwhile, Borissov accidentally confirmed a leaked sms exchange between him and Bojkov, where they discussed potential football transfers, which he had previously denied.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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