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15 яну 2017, 15:05, 715 прочитания

Yanevagate: The "Rotten apples" of the Bulgarian judiciary

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This article is part of K Quarterly # Issue 1 / November-January 2017. Contact us for subscription options on kq@economedia.bg
What? What was that?
Yanevagate, Bai Hui and KTBfiles

You have probably heard idioms and proverbs in Bulgarian that read like "The horse went into the river" or "A united company moves a mountain". when translated to English word-for-word They cause chuckle among your Bulgarian friends, but the only thing you can do is to raise politely your eyebrows. Many more similar meaningless phrases can be found in various websites which make fun of the habit (typical not only for Bulgarians) to translate literally idiomatic expressions and proverbs into English.
The current section of KQ has the ambition to explain the jargon of Bulgarian politics and economy which sometimes is as inexplicable if literally translated as in the above mentioned phrases. Who’s Cecoron? Or what "Tsvetan thoughts" means and what for the love of god ladybirds have to do with management?

A series of leaked wiretapped conversations by senior magistrates expose how thin the separation of powers in Bulgaria is. They also offer a rare glimpse into the ways of politics and law in the country.
Imagine a number of leaked tapes of two senior magistrates talking about influence peddling between members of the different branches of power, illicit practices within the state prosecution and under-the-radar communication between senior members of the executive and the judiciary, including Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, his GERB-lieutenant Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov and many other members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and even the secret services.

A story of an illegal wiretape

In any other EU country this would have caused a huge public scandal, uproar within the opposition and a large-scale independent investigation. Not in Bulgaria. The strongest reaction came from the French ambassador Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, who called the two magistrates in the conversations "the rotten apples" of the Bulgarian judiciary. What would become known as the "Yanevagate" scandal, after the owner of one of the recorded voices, would never be properly investigated by the prosecution, the majority of SJC magistrates would simply ignore it, as would the opposition parties. Yet, if they were properly investigated, these tapes could have exposed the secretive, roguish and sometimes purely absurd ways Bulgaria is governed.

A year ago, investigative reporting website Bivol released the first of what would become a series of leaked wiretapped conversations between the ex-chairwoman of the largest district court in the country, the Sofia City Court (SCS) Vladimira Yaneva, her ex-subordinate in charge of trade disputes, Roumiana Chenalova, and lawyer Momchil Mondeshki. In one of the conversations Yaneva tells Chenalova how Chief Prosecutor Tsatsarov warns her about an impending investigation against her.

What the leaks expose
In another series of monologues she claims that the "secret services belong to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF)", later specifying that they are controlled by the infamous member of the party, the ex-court investigator, present media and business mogul Delyan Peevski. In 2013 the attempt by the Oresharski government to put Mr Peevski formally in charge of the Bulgarian secret services became the catalyst of one of the largest protests in modern Bulgarian history. Another conversation sheds light on the alleged love affairs of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the "presents" in the form of mansions in Barcelona he buys for an unknown mistress. Or, businessmen related to First Investment Bank were ready to gather money to bail out Yaneva and buy off media comfort from the editor of one of the leading daily newspapers in the country, "24 hours". Last, but not least - in one of the leaked audio files Mondeshki and Yaneva discuss their issues with a fortuneteller.

Later on, a series of independent technical inspections by foreign experts found the footprint of the Bulgarian secret services in the recordings and proved that the voices of Ms Chenalova, Ms Yaneva and Mr Mondeshki were indeed their own. When Yaneva testified, she simultaneously claimed she didn’t remember anything from the conversations and the recordings had been manipulated. Unsurprisingly, the prosecution office dropped the case because it found that the recordings had been manipulated...because they were cut into separate shorter pieces. The Supreme Judicial Council (the self-governing body of the Bulgarian judicial system) found no ethical dilemma in the substance of the conversations that could expose grand misdemeanors on behalf of members of the government and the judiciary. They wrote the case off by simply saying that the recording might be illegal.
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