As anti-government protests continue to rock the country, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has announced more changes to the cabinet – which one critic compared to changing deckchairs on the ‘Titanic’.
By Svetoslav Todorov
In another move designed to appease the protest wave rippling across Bulgaria, and restore trust in the governing coalition, the cabinet on Thursday announced further “resignations”.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who had come back from the recent EU summit, confirmed the departures of Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov and Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, all of which were first discussed on July 16 when Borissov first demanded their resignations over alleged ties to the oligarch and politician Delyan Peevski.
The Interior Ministry is expected to go to National Police Commissioner Hristo Terziyski while Luchezar Borissov, until now the Deputy Minster, will head the Economy Ministry.
Tourism Minister Angelina Angelkova, who was often mocked for her words during press conferences and who drew criticism, especially from people working in the tourist sector, is also quitting. Mariana Nikolova, from the United Patriots party, with no known experience in the field, will take her seat.
In another move, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev is moving to take charge of Finance. Ananiev has faced criticism for alleged hesitancy in the pandemic. He now returns to the ministry where he started his political career in 1980.
Ananiev was Deputy Finance Minister in three consecutive governments from 1998 to 2009, advised the President on financial policy from 2009 to 2011 and was a counsellor to the Prime Minister from 2013 to 2014.
From August 2014 to January 2017, he was Deputy Finance Minister, then Finance Minister in the caretaker government of Ognyan Gerdzhikov in 2017, Deputy Finance Minister again under Boyko Borisov, and made Minister of Health on November 10, 2017.
Ananiev’s position at Health will be taken by the director of Alexandrovska hospital, Kostadin Angelov, who, during the early stages of the pandemic accepted a donation from Peevski, one of the targets of popular protests both now and during the 2013-2014 protest wave.
Meanwhile, protests demanding the resignation of the whole cabinet and of chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev show no signs of calming down. Protesters blocked the main boulevards of the capital Sofia until after midnight on Wednesday. Thursday marks the 15th day of the unrest.
On Facebook page, opposition politician Hristo Ivanov, who helped ignite the protests, dismissed the changes in the cabinet, comparing them to changing the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic.