Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, leader of the former ruling party, GERB, appeal his arresthis lawyer, Menko Menkov, said Monday.
Borissov, GERB party spokeswoman Sevdelina Arnaudova and former finance minister Vladislav Goranov were arrested last Thursday and held for 24 hours.
The police action came shortly after the holder Prime Minister Kiril Petkov met with European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi to discuss closer collaboration on corruption cases, questionable infrastructure deals and the mismanagement of EU funds in Bulgaria under the watch of Borissov’s 2017-2021 government.
GERB members condemned the arrests as political repression, while the reformist coalition defended them as the final nail in the coffin of GERB’s disputed legacy.
Arnaudova and Goranov will also appeal. All three were released Friday without charge. However, on Monday the Home Office questioned the three men for alleged extortion.
Menkov said the raids revealed nothing of significance. “Nothing was confiscated from Borissov. From Arnaudova’s house, the authorities took advertising material from the last election campaigns, a notebook with Borissov’s name on it and with a daily diary – who knows, maybe it’s- be important,” Menkov commented to the media sardonically.
The intensification of relations between the government and the European public prosecutor’s office also reinforces the isolation of Bulgaria Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshevconsidered by the current government as a protector of Borissov’s interests.
In a Facebook post, dated March 18Chairman of the European People’s Party caucus in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, said Borissov needed to clarify important issues.
“The Bulgarian authorities claim that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office provided the evidence that led to the arrest,” he noted.
“Any suspected misuse of EU funds must be investigated without exception. This includes the responsibility of the authorities to provide explanations to the public.
His post drew criticism from social media users, many of whom condemned the EU’s previous inactivity in the face of corruption allegations linked to Borissov.
Weber said he will send two representatives, the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, Monika Hohlmeier, MEP, and Jeroen Lenaers, spokesperson for the European People’s Party on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and of Internal Affairs of Parliament, to meet with Prime Minister Petkov, Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov and Chief Prosecutor Geshev and check the situation this week.
Borissov said he found the arrest surprising. “We were having dinner, suddenly the police came and started to search everything – without a warrant, without notice,” he told the media on Friday last week, after being released. “I’m afraid they’ll kill me next time.”
He made no further statements or appearances in the media. Borissov served as Bulgaria’s prime minister from 2009 to 2013, 2014 to 2017, and again from 2017 to 2021, making him the country’s second-longest-serving prime minister in history.
While Borissov gave Bulgaria some stability, his rule was associated with endemic corruption and misuse of EU funds.