BILI's Open Letter on the "Biserov" Case


Rosen Plevneliev
President of the Republic of Bulgaria

Mihail Mikov
President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria

Plamen Oresharski
Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

Boiko Borisov
Chairperson of Parliamentary Group of Political Party GERB

Sergei Stanishev
Chairperson of Parliamentary Group of Coalition for Bulgaria

Lutvi Mestan
Chairperson of Parliamentary Group of Movement for Rights and Freedoms

Volen Siderov
Chairperson of Ataka Party

CC: Media


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

From the known information up to now on the “Hristo Biserov” case and regardless of its outcome, it is clear that this is probably the most high-profile corruption scandal in Bulgaria’s new history. In a moment when public trust in institutions is at critically low levels and unprecedented protests demand for a “clean hands operation”, it is a matter of national security to formulate and apply adequate set of measures on the systematic problems, revealed by that scandal.

“Biserov” Case’s importance is far not exhausted by Mr. Biserov’s positions hold or his long-lasting political career. It is quite more important that everything, for which according to media information he is inquired about at the moment, should have been a long time ago detected by the specialized control bodies, which main function is the early prevention of conflict of interests and corruption on the high levels of the authorities. The real scandal is that the National Assembly’s Deputy Chairperson would have likely been in a situation of dramatic conflict of interest for years now and that has not been registered by the competent institutions. When one relates this case to the “Zlatanov” scandal and all the questionings on the seriousness of the investigations before granting access to classified information, it becomes clear that we have a failure of the whole control system and corruption prevention.

The “Biserov” Case must provide the occasion for a full inventory-check and resetting of the system for prevention and control of high-level corruption. Firstly, within this process the painful issue of high state officials’ appointments has to be taken into consideration. A huge part of the public scandals is connected especially with them and it is not accidentally – the society is aware that the lack of really independent and competent regulatory, control and law enforcement bodies is rooted in the manner of their members’ appointments: without examination for corruption suspicions, without transparency and public participation, without professionalism proved. It is enough just to mention the “Markovska”, “Zlatanov” and “Peevski” scandals so that the depth of the problem to become clear as well as its institutional range and public resonance.

Structurally seen, these problems give grounds to be said that:

- The whole system for control and prevention of corruption at the high levels of authorities does not work and is created and maintained in a condition of ridiculousness;
- An important reason for this is that these bodies are traditionally led by politically and personally dependant individuals, due to the non-transparent procedures and the lack of real investigations of their qualities;
- The absence of a working prevention of corruption brought a chain of institutional collapse and an outburst of public discontent.

With a view to the seriousness of these conclusions and the necessity of rapid elaboration and implementation of concrete steps for counter-reaction to corruption at high levels, BILI calls all relevant state institutions in due time to discuss the following significant measures:

1.  Reform of the system for prevention of conflict of interests.

The “Biserov” scandal clearly showed the absence of real control over the situations of conflict of interests and most over the content, completeness and the truthfulness of high state officials’ personal declarations that they submit. On its side, the “Zlatanov” scandal showed that the Commission for Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest (CPACI) is initially founded and its membership fulfilled in a manner that prohibits it to become an independent, competent and effective body. That is why, we demand for:
• Full revision of Conflict of Interest Prevention and Ascertainment Act, especially in its parts on:
o The range and content of declarations submitted;
o Controlling rights of the Commission and
o The manner of its constitution;
• Resignation and election of a new membership of CPACI by a new procedure, guaranteeing its independence and competency.

2. Guarantees for the transparency of deputies’ legislation initiatives and regulation of lobbyism.

The “Biserov” Case for a consecutive time illustrated the fact that even the meager requirements in the Law on Normative Acts (LNA), guaranteeing minimal transparency and public deliberation, are not applied to the national representatives’ legislation initiatives. Also, the need for some kind of lobbyism regulation is urgent. That is why we demand for:
• Revision of LNA so that the guarantees for legislation initiatives’ transparency and their public deliberation in general are fostered and in their range the national representatives’ proposals are included.
• Regulation of the lobbying activity in a separate law.

3. Reform of the system for access to classified information.

Regardless whether Mr. Biserov has had access to classified information, enough cases have been accumulated raising suspicions on the seriousness of the investigations for access. It is known, that in NATO’s member countries especially these investigations are the genuine barrier for granting access to persons with corruption and other dependencies to operate with information and participate in decision-takings of national security significance. That is why, we demand for:
• Independent examination of the procedures and the real practice on investigating for granting classified investigation access;
• If our suspicions are proven – revision of the normative regulation of the investigation and State Commission on Information Security’s (SCIS) controlling rights;
• Reregulating the SCIS’s status and the procedure for electing its member so that to guarantee Commission’s genuine independence and so that it does not depend solely on the executive authority and in particular directly on the Prime Minister.

4. Reform of the procedures for appointment of highly state officials.

The multitude of scandals in the recent years shows that there is a serious problem with the procedures for election of persons at high state positions. These scandals demonstrate that there is a problem with an extremely large range of bodies, situated in and appointed by the three powers, with the President’s participation. If summarized, the problems are reduced to the lack of genuine investigations of corruption suspicions and other dependencies and guarantees for public participation. That is why, we demand for:
• Elaboration and adoption of a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to embed a mandatory minimal standard  for all state authorities and institutions while appointing high state officials, including:
o An obligation for each elective or appointing body to conduct its own investigation on all rational suspicions in the moral and independence of the nominated candidates according to the standard that the morals of a candidate should be beyond any reasonable doubt;
o Guarantees for integral transparency at all stages of the procedure and for public participation, including the option for stake-holder organizations, professional communities and media to pose questions to the candidates during their public hearing.

Yours respectfully,
Biliyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder
Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives