As head KPKONPI Sotir Tsatsarov plans to do what he planned to do as Prosecutor General seven years ago (but didn’t)

As head KPKONPI Sotir Tsatsarov plans to do what he planned to do as Prosecutor General seven years ago (but didn’t)

Sotir Tsatsarov’s tenure as Prosecutor General expires in early January 2020. After making sure his protégé Ivan Geshev becomes his successor, Tsatsarov eyed the Anticorruption Commission, KPKONPI for his next position. Its chief resigned a while ago amid the corruption scandal known as ApartmentGate. Then Parliament conveniently put off starting the procedure for appointing a replacement and finally Tsatsarov was able to become nominated and run for the post.

The Anticorruption Commission is a special and supplementary body, which has little accountability and a lot of powers. Just as the Bulgarian prosecution, its chief has a final say over opening and closing investigations, while the justification for any action could be entirely subjective: if he or she feels there is cause for opening an investigation, it is reason enough. And vice versa. The commission is designed and used as a tool against political enemies. As such it is no wonder the institution has zero actual result in combating corruption. Just as the Prosecutor’s Office, and the specialized bodies, established with the same purpose, at least on paper, these bodies have had no measurable success at all.

It was only natural Tsatsarov would take the post, which most closely resembles his current one, be it less powerful. Unlike the protested procedure for the election of Ivan Geshev for Prosecutor General, for which Geshev ran unopposed - this time there is even a second contender in the running. He has no chance of winning, of course, and takes little time during the hearings, not least because the panelists rarely ask him any questions. But he is there.

Tsatsarov presented a long concept for the future of the commission. The lengthy exposé includes a lot of administrative reform and an abundance of analyses and assessments. Part of his proposals restate the very purposes and functions of already existing structures within the commission, other ideas Tsatsarov has copied off his own proposals for reforming the Prosecutor’s Office seven years ago. Back then he planned to establish a civil council to advise and overlook the prosecution. After he got the job, Tsatsarov forgot about it. He has recycled it now for the commission.

Overall, a lot of work, which conveniently involves a lot of time (potentially) and is empirically unverifiable: assessments and analyses may go on independently. And they likely will. As an added bonus, by speaking of bureaucratic institutions in abstract terms, one easily produces reasons for their expansion. Hence, as Tsatsarov hinted even before any ‘assessment’ has begun, not enough non-administrators work at the commission.

Tsatsarov addressed news organizations: the commission will from now on take seriously any signal from the media, regarding high level corruption, regardless where it comes from. His remark goes to the fact that both he, Geshev and their allies ignore news outlets, which are not government-friendly at best. At worst, the publishers of those media are ever-present targets of endless investigations by the commission. Tsatsarov assured he would treat every media publication with equal respect and seriousness. Which, however, just as well would justify the commission to take action after any publication by the hard-lined government-friendly tabloids, which are used primarily as smear campaign tools against political enemies.

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