Statement of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria Ivan Geshev

19 Май 2023 г.

The oligarchic model has to end, what is important to me is the security of citizens

I consider the bomb attack on me as an attempt intended to kill me. The examinations and the investigation will reveal whether it is so or not. I'm sure, the truth will be brought to light. I am not afraid, I have always done things that I consider to be right and that are in the interest of the people, said Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev in a statement to journalists. "I have the support of my colleagues, believe me. I will finish my term of office", said the Prosecutor General - Nevertheless, the Prosecutor's Office will continue to work objectively in compliance with the law and European values".

We publish the text of the statement with slight reduction:

As the Prosecutor General, I have worked only and only for Bulgaria, for the Bulgarian citizens and for their security. Words like motherland, fatherland, homeland, a man's word, honor, loyalty to friends, however old-fashioned, mean something to me.

I may have made mistakes, that's normal. I may have said something inappropriate somewhere, but everything was only in the interest of the people.

Coming back from the United States of America, I was warned to submit my resignation by 10 a. m. My family was mentioned and that if I don't, someone would press the “enter button” with some stuff, with some videos, and so I'd better be prudent because life goes on. It ended with "Don't worry, be happy." There were also lyrical digressions like I'm alone on the rock and there's a wind blowing.

I'm not afraid, although it may sound as a cliché. Judge Falcone said, "The coward dies every day and the brave only once." One person who I owe an apology told me, "History remembers only the brave ones." I don't know if I'm brave, but I've always done things that I think are right and that are in people's interest. I am doing what I have to do, and let it happen whatever is to happen.

I will present to you chronologically how I see the attacks of the political mafia, oligarchy and crime and why all of this happened. I tried, already at the beginning of my term of office, to change that what I could change in the lives of Bulgarian citizens, to improve their security. I started with domestic crime, elderly people being killed in their houses. I started with domestic crime, elderly people being killed in their homes. We continued with organized crime. The European Commission stated that thanks to the specialized structures, this problem was solved in a satisfactory manner. We investigated cases of terrorism, of malicious Russian influence, for the first time, which no one had investigated before and which had not been a problem until now. Moreover, some former prime ministers gave puppies to Putin.

We also continued with oligarchs, who everyone thought were untouchable, and now they are hiding in various destinations - Dubai, Serbia, probably guarded by the Russians, paying lobbyists sums of 350,000 dollars and others. As a result, the prosecution was heavily attacked. The political mafia, the oligarchs, the criminals and all who want to continue stealing have united.

I, and hopefully the Bulgarian citizens, do not want this to continue.

Today I hope this is the beginning of the end of this oligarchic model. Here I will join Mr Sarafov, the person Borislav Bobby Sarafov, who said that politics should come out of the prosecutor's office. I agree. Now it is the time, and I am sure, politics has to come out of the judiciary, where it has been trying to some degree to carefully guide it to the benefit of its own interests. And now it is doing it in an ugly, brutal way, violating all European values, such as rule of law, even morality.

It all started months ago. Then I received a veiled offer, they said it was from Boyko Borisov, to become ambassador either to Israel or Turkey, possibly to have a political career, perhaps in his party. I didn't take it seriously. Apparently, that's when it all started. I think so.

Then in Ukraine I said that if Putin came to Bulgaria, we would fulfill our legal obligations and would surrender him to the International Criminal Court. I don't know if there's a connection, but that was the beginning.

You all know about the assassination attempt on me. It was a shock, that's why I needed time. I think it's understandable. I believe this is an attempt intended to kill me. Whether it is so or not, the expertise will reveal. This investigation will most likely involve our partners such as Europol and others. I'm sure the truth about this will be brought to light. Naturally, I do not doubt the competence and capacity of the Bulgarian experts.

I underestimated what happened in the following days - an outrageous media attack on me personally and on the Prosecutor’s Office. It was expected to some extent. This continues from the so-called democratic community for years. It is known which parties are behind this. You know about the attempts for legislative amendments - the so-called Prosecutor General Control Act. I don't know if it matches this scenario. We will see. In essence, this law has only one purpose - if possible the Prosecutor General to be brought to justice and removed and the Prosecutor's Office to be brought under control. For me, it is unequivocal that what is happening, quoting the European Parliament, is violation of the rule of law and an attempt to take control of the judicial system contrary to any European values.

The media hysteria, which is no longer accidental, but turned out to be purposeful, in my opinion, I hope I am not right, shifted the focus from the attack on an EU country's Prosecutor General to another direction - to justify why I stayed alive. That was recklessly to me. For that reason, I remained silent.

I was on a visit to Turkey, planned long ago, then to the USA, and today I was supposed to be in Porto for a conference of my friends from the European Jewish Association. I don't know if anyone knew and planned it while I was gone. During all this time, the Prosecutor General was the person Borislav Bobby Sarafov, until yesterday, when I signed an order to interrupt my leave. The Public Communication Directorate advised me to give an interview on Sunday in the USA, as Mr Nikodimov wished, in view of the speculation and the disgusting media campaign, offensive to every magistrate. I gave this interview and explained everything I know as a victim of this crime. I explained it on the first day when I was questioned as a witness on 1 May and I thought the subject was closed. It turned out not to be so and this is just the beginning of the blitzkrieg against the Prosecution and its control.

On Monday morning, I am sorry, I may have missed some things chronologically, a friend of mine from the country, close to GERB, called me and said he was worried. Boyko Borisov, the person Boyko Metodiev Borisov, called and asked where my family was. He said he didn't know. My family was in a friendly country, assisted by a friendly prosecutor's office. And he advised that I should stop talking. I've been in the media first, second, third news. I thought something was happening to him …… and that I underestimated.

After that, I saw a statement of my deputy in BTA - the person Borislav Bobi Sarafov, which I suppose you are familiar with. I called him and he said he was very ashamed, but there was nothing he could do. This is a synthesis of the situation. I asked him – you know that's not true. He said - sorry, but understand me. And I began to think what was happening. Then I guessed most of the things that unfolded in the following days.

The next day - Tuesday, he called me and said he would go for an interview with Ms Velikova. It was very strange for me. I said, "How did you contact her?" "They told me to go to her. I'm going to make things right." He went and gave an interview. Everybody could hear him. I thought the man had changed his mind. He said the situation was complicated and someone had to burn. This someone must be Yasen Todorov. In the interview he said he was considering whether to ask him to resign. We heard each other again; it was just for the media.  On Wednesday I found out, not from him, that he had submitted a proposal to the SJC to remove Mr Yasen Todorov as his deputy because he had made media statements without his consent.

Here I would like to clarify that there is a media strategy of the Prosecution which does not require Mr Sarafov's consent. Мoreover I am not aware that Mr Sarafov sought permission for any of his statements, including that before Ms Velikova, according to this media strategy, which is mandatory for the Prosecution. I put it down to the personal element. He sent me a photo from the chat of the National Investigation Service, where Mr Yasen Todorov, apparently by mistake, communicating with Mr Sarafov, wrote to the entire National Investigative Service that he, Yasen Todorov, had nothing to worry about, but that the mice leave the ship.

On Thursday, Ms Gabriel said the first thing she was going to do was to call on the next Minister of Justice to demand the resignation of the Prosecutor General.

I will not comment how this violates the rule of law principle and the separation of powers. Each of you can judge by itself. I am not familiar with it, but I read an interesting post by Mr. Urumov, who makes an interesting analysis of how this corresponds or rather does not correspond with the requirements for independence.

I called a politician I know and considered a friend, a politician - a woman. She said, "Understand me, I was with her, and heard it from her for the first time," which made it clear to me that a very small circle of people knew it. The person Boyko Metodiev Borisov and maybe one, two, five others. Here I am surprised by the position of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, because they have always had a position of principle.

By the way, I am retelling many conversations that I had from the territory of the USA, including others that I had on Saturday on the phone and in person at my house with politicians, members of the SJC and magistrates. Dozens of conversations, maybe more than dozens.

Mr Sarafov said, after I read that six of the members of the Prosecutor's College signed, so to speak, a motion for dismissal: Well, you know what happened, what to do, I have nothing more to tell you. There were several conversations. I asked a member of the SJC - what are these ridiculous grounds, you know that there are no procedural violations. He said - I haven't read it, they gave it to me, just so that you resign and we can dissmis you.

After that, I received a text message from an administrative head of the Sofia Appeal Prosecutor's Office, I will quote him because he is sad: "I am very sorry for what I did today, I am sorry." I asked what happened, what are you sorry for. He said, "I was urged to release an opinion." "Who urged you?". "Sarafov". I told him that no Appellate District Prosecutor knew. He: "Understand me." I understood him. He is my friend and will continue to be my friend, he is in serious health condition. This will be on the conscience of those people who did this, if they have a conscience.

I called all the other appellate prosecutors. In Tarnovo they told me: "Mr. Geshev, we are behind you, Sarafov will not dare to call." They told me from Varna - we will not participate in vile coup attempts. Burgas: Count on us, we do our job and we will not betray the people, we are not traitors". The deputy administrative head of Plovdiv called me. He said: I will not participate in this, I will tell him to deal with the appellate prosecutor.

I decided to cut short my official trip. Last night I arrived at Sofia airport. After that I received a message that if I didn't hand in my resignation letter by 10am someone would, I quote, "press enter". I can't tell who the author was. Since it wasn't signed, I can only make suggestions. When I am sure of his identity and that he belongs to one of the political parties, I will let you know. I won’t hesitate no more.

After 1989 not a single person had to endure what I have experienced in the last three years. My family and my friends were subjected to checks, slander, reports and much more.

All of this shows that someone thinks I'm a flaw in the system and that I need to be rooted out so that the system can continue to function in the same way. The way that enables corruption and makes Bulgarian citizens live in poverty. I wondered whether it's all worth it. Last night I came to the conclusion that it is in fact worth it because of my children and grandchildren. This oligarchic model that rules Bulgaria and makes people poor must come to an end. I am Bulgarian, prosecutor, magistrate and a man - things that some other people obviously aren't.

It's clear what I think of the prosecutors who have called for my resignation. Most of them took part in the prosecutors' protests against the assassination attempt on me. By accident or not, their position of support changed Thursday night. I heard a rumor, which has yet to be confirmed, that they were forced to sign the letter demanding my resignation; some even signed while in the hospital.

Some may have been bribed, everyone has their weaknesses, others are afraid, and still others have been misled. I sincerely hope that there are worthy members of the Supreme Judicial Council for whom the words - honor, dignity and magistrate - still mean something.

Everything that has happened paints a picture of the current state of affairs in our country. Part of it is the lies and hybrid attacks against the prosecutor’s office that I am all-powerful.

That they all agreed so categorically to demand my resignation means two things. I and the prosecutor’s office of which I am proud and which I lead fulfill our duties to the people and the law. I am proud of both the prosecutors and investigators because their work has shown that the prosecutor's office is the only stable institution. I have received numerous calls from people expressing their support and telling me not to give up. I am proud to be the head of a prosecutor's office that works as a team and whose work is built on the rule of law and the country's constitution. It appears that a large part of politicians have not read the Constitution and those who have read it don't seem to understand it or simply don't care.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the most important thing for me as Prosecutor General is to continue working for the Bulgarian citizens. Despite everything, I will complete my term of office.

I received a message from a colleague of mine, a prosecutor, who wrote to me: “Hello Ivan, I don't know if you are aware that Mr Sarafov has ordered that I close the Barcelonagate case by Friday.” The case is under special supervision. I informed the supervising prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office and she said that she had received comprehensive information and that the case could not be closed before September, citing procedural reasons. So she will continue her work.

I will complete my term of office because I feel responsible for ensuring the rights of Bulgarian citizens. Despite everything, the prosecutor’s office will continue to be impartial and respect the law and European values. Believe me, I have the support of my colleagues. The prosecutor’s office is united and will remain united in the future.

I love Bulgaria, I'm proud to be Bulgarian! God be with us and long live Bulgaria!