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PM Boyko Borissov holds press conference to address leaked disturbing photos and tapes

Both are highly alarming, regardless if authentic: that only raises different sets of questions

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The anonymous author claims this is taken in the PM's bedroom. Another photo, which the PM said was authentic, featured a gun on the stand in the space not visible in this picture.

While Vassil Bozhkov, former gambling mogul - turned fugitive in the UAE – continues to accuse high ranking officials and specifically PM Boyko Borissov of racketeering tens of millions of him over the years, two alarming files leaked to the public. One was a tape on which a voice, indistinguishable from the PM’s, could be heard. The other – photos of the PM sleeping in his bedroom, a gun on his nightstand. Separate close ups of said nightstand show the drawers full with 500-euro bills.

Before discussing any content, an obvious and quite disturbing question pops up. If these are authentic, how is the PM – one of the most guarded statesmen in the country – so easily susceptible to violations of his privacy? Maybe he himself is wondering something along those lines – hence the gun by his bed. Which itself is just as disturbing.

If the materials are manipulated – which the PM claims is true for most of them – another set of red alerts set off. Who made them, and why? The content of the tapes especially is highly damaging to the institution of the prime minister, and are not – as the PM tries to play it – a personal attack against a private citizen from unnamed enemies. Lastly – in terms of form at least – regardless of their authenticity, the style of the attack screams ‘threat’. So, who is threatening the PM in such a mob-Hollywood stylistic?

Well, at first – regarding the tapes - the PM said he wouldn’t file for an investigation, as there is ‘no bad publicity’, as he put it. Which raises yet another question: if the tapes are faked, as the PM claims, he wouldn’t want this gross manipulation and attack – against him personally and professionally – to be uncovered? Or does he know who it is? Or the tapes are authentic?

Of course, investigating such an instance – both as an attempt against the PM and the possibility that the tapes are authentic and he did say what he did – is not up to the PM. The Prosecutor’s Office caught up to this fact as well, although almost a full week later and an investigation of some kind is looking into the tapes.

Which finally brings us to the matter of content. Regarding the pictures, the PM claims only one is authentic – where he is shot sleeping on the bed. The photos of the nightstand drawers, full of cash – manipulated.

The tapes, though, are not as easy to describe, and just as hard to explain Borissov’s account of it. He first said the recordings are a faked montage from real recordings. This, of course is easily verifiable but – again – the PM did not wish the matter investigated in the beginning and no prosecutor took up the matter for six days.

In the recording, the voice apparently is on the phone with someone. The recording is seven minutes long. It references events from last spring and is likely made around 24-25 April. The voice is on an all-encompassing rant: about the probe by the Commission for Financial Supervision into Eurohold last year – which in fact did take place. It looked into Eurohold’s capacity to manage CEZ – one of the three power distributors in the country. The voice says he ordered the probe apparently in retaliation: "…I will smash his face, [since] he ignores me."

He moves on to the subject of a then-Deputy Ecology Minister Alexander Manolev. He was at the center of an EU funds fraud, which the investigative news site bivol.bg uncovered at the time. Manolev did indeed get charged several days after the alleged recording.

"Manolev is a goner. We’ll charge him today or tomorrow. We’ll crush him. I warned him.", the voice says.

The man on the tape also talks about the Parliament Chairwoman, Tsveta Karayancheva and call her "a stupid c*nt" and also that she is moronic.

The voice covers a number of other topics and uses a lot of foul language.

The question here are clear: if the tapes are authentic and will we find out? If they are – even partially so – it would appear that the PM has direct control or at least some significant power of direction over institutions, which do not – on paper – report to him.

Regardless of its authenticity, unfortunately, the voice completely corresponds to a public secret, Bulgarians long since share. A secret that has become trivial. The democratic institutions are rotten and used as tools for those in power to go after enemies and protect friends. The system of democratic institutions and procedures have been captured and utilized by a group of exclusive state and private actors, and with GERB at the helm for over a decade, and no real parliamentary opposition, the process of state capture is almost uninterrupted.

The system is so incapable of preforming checks and balance out its powers – as far as they are truly separate, which itself is a point of debate – that its democratic institutions stand by stupefied and completely inept to take action while the PM is being likely threatened, retaliated against, and apparently – irrespective of his over-the top security detail, is vulnerable to the simplest of invasions. Which just might explain sleeping with a gun close by.

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