Ivan Geshev sworn in as the new Prosecutor General

Geshev swearing-in ceremony

With his predecessor and mentor Sotir Tsatsarov at his side, Ivan Geshev was sworn in as the new Prosecutor General.

Tsatsarov will go on to head the Anticorruption Commission. The commission is an institution, champion in its ineffectiveness in fighting corruption. The Prosecutor’s Office itself is the only contender for the lead in this regard.

Geshev thanked his colleagues for the support “over these past difficult months.” Geshev was likely referring to the fact that his unopposed nomination for the post of Prosecutor General was met with months of protests across the country. Protesters have planned another demonstration this Thursday morning in front of the Supreme Justice Council building. There Geshev will attend the council’s regular meeting for the first time as Prosecutor General.

Reporters asked Geshev about the harsh criticism from the Venice Commission regarding the lack of reform in the prosecution, and especially of the unaccountability of the Prosecutor General. Geshev dismissed the questions with a rhetorical "do you know what the Venice Commission is?" - and went on to stress that their recommendations are not mandatory.

In his exclusive first interview just hours after the swearing-in ceremony to the tabloid government-friendly PIK, Geshev argued against the legislative reforms, which would change the all-powerful status of the Prosecutor General, calling the efforts a political agenda and questioned its goals: "Is [the reform] being made in the interest of the Bulgarian people, or for a certain segment [of society], which will never be satisfied." From there on he focuses on the 'segment', which he defines as being centered around the non-parliamentary opposition leader Hristo Ivanov. Ivanov's party, Democratic Bulgaria, is the most prominent critic of the Prosecutor's Office and the way it operates.

The Prosecutor’s Office under Sotir Tsatsarov’s tenure and the commission, have more to show for lack of accomplishments, rather than anything else. The state has failed to indict and convict any politician of corruption, except for one non-GERB former Mladost mayor, who ran on a platform of stopping mass development projects in the district. Dessislava Ivancheva received the maximum sentence for asking for a bribe: 20 years in prison plus a 10’000 leva fine. The court ruled her not guilty on the count of taking the bribe, although Geshev boasted about the airtight evidence proving her guilt for months during the trial. Her arrest and trial bordered the legal in terms of security measures and was controversial in all its stages. Ivancheva is suing the state for human rights violations in the European Court of Human Rights. 

One notable lack in the state’s prosecution efforts is media mogul and Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) MP Delyan Peevski in the 10’000-page indictment for the collapse of the Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB). Ivan Geshev was the lead prosecutor in the case until he accepted the nomination for Prosecutor General. He dismissed questions by reporters about Peevski’s absence from the indictment with sarcastic comments. He and his team ignored not only the fact that Peevski was the former bank’s chair Tsvetan Vassilev’s closest partner for years, or that Peevski built his media empire with loans from KTB, but also Vassilev’s pleas to be questioned in court; the prosecutors have also ignored the several very lengthy interviews Vassilev has given since, detailing Peevski’s role in the bank’s collapse, complete with dates, names, and references to official documentation of the bank.

The fact that Geshev, Tsatsarov’s protege succeeded in taking over the Prosecutor’s Office and Tsatsarov’s appointment as head of the Anticorruption Commission is an explicit declaration that these institutions will not only carry on as before but will probably double down on their oppressive style. The Prosecutor’s Office along with the various ‘specialized’ anti-corruption and anti-organized crime bodies, which different Boyko Borissov governments have established over the past decade - have evolved into a protective ring around those in power and their friends.

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