Bulgarian Prosecutors Indict Former Deputy Premier Tsvetanov

Bulgarian prosecutors indicted former Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov after questioning him over his involvement in allegedly illegal wire-tapping operations.

Tsvetanov, who also served as interior minister in the Cabinet of ex-Prime Minister Boyko Borissov from July 2009 to February 2013, was charged today, his lawyer Menko Menkov told reporters in the capital Sofia, without specifying the charge. The office of the Chief Prosecutor also declined to say what the specific charge was, when contacted by phone by Bloomberg today.

“My defendant is innocent,” Menkov told reporters. “The charge raised against my defendant has nothing to do with illegal audio surveillance, which leads me to believe it is done just to have some kind of a charge raised. We were not given any of the pre-trial materials including any evidence. Our rights are being violated.”

The European Union has repeatedly criticized Bulgaria for an inefficient fight against corruption and organized crime, urging the Balkan country to investigate graft among senior government officials. Several ministers of previous administrations were charged with abuse of power in the past four years and were acquitted.

Borissov’s government resigned amid protests against corruption and high utility bills and failed to win an outright majority in May 12 early elections, which opened the way for the second-place party, the Socialists, to form a coalition with the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Ceded Immunity

Tsvetanov, who is now Borissov’s deputy as leader of the Gerb parliamentary group, was questioned by prosecutors and investigators several times during the past two months.

He gave up his parliamentary immunity on May 21 to allow an investigation of his alleged involvement in wiretapping a possible conversation between Borissov, former Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov and former Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naidenov on interference with an abuse-of-power probe against Naidenov.

The prosecution imposed a restriction on Tsvetanov, banning him from traveling, according to Menkov.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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