Bulgaria's Nationalist Chief on Shaky Grounds over Lavish Trips
Bulgaria's formerly-ruling opposition centrist GERB party has demanded sanctions against nationalist leader Volen Siderov for recent scandalous pictures.
The demand to dismiss Siderov, leader of the extreme-right party Ataka, from the post of Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Corruption and Conflict of Interest, was voiced in plenary hall by Desislava Taneva and Alexander Nenkov, lawmakers from Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party (GERB).
Several days ago, pictures, reportedly, showing the leader of nationalist Ataka on a Cuban beach stirred a fresh scandal in the country. On Tuesday, the PIK news agency published photographs of Siderov and several of his lawmakers on the famous Cuban Varadero beach at the time State budget 2014 was being voted in the Parliament.
New pictures, showing him spending leisure time at upscale European hotels, smoking cigars, drinking, and touching the breasts of a marble statue, were released Thursday.
Atanasova, who is a former Health Minister in GERB's Cabinet, said the facts around these trips were scandalous and tarnished the image of the Bulgarian Parliament.
The 3 GERB MPs in the Committee on Corruption and Conflict of Interest are getting ready to launch a petition for Siderov's removal from the post. According to parliamentary rules, such removal ahead of term can happen if more than half of the committee members ask for it. Seven signatures are needed in this particular case.
Ataka lawmakers have staged firm defense ever since the pictures emerged as they did with other scandals surrounding their leader.
Ataka MP, Dimitar Dimov, told the media Friday that GERB wanted Siderov's ousting because he was investigating their leader, former Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.
Meanwhile, one of the leaders of Ataka's strongest rival, the National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria, NFSB, said in a TV interview that Siderov has BGN 40 M and owns five offshore companies on the Seychelles.
Valentin Kassabov was vague about the sources of both the above information and of the alleged assets, saying secret services knew about it all, while some of the money came from Russia and some from Turkey.
He, however, presented a document from one luxury trip of Siderov, showing the latter spent EUR 15 000 for a week stay in the company of a woman in an expensive Paris hotel.
Another TV, Nova TV, aired a recording of a conversation with an employee of a different upscale Paris hotel, saying Ataka leader was their frequent guest and last came in 2009 and spent 6 nights in a penthouse for EUR 2 500 a night.
Siderov has not yet commented on any of the above, including the trip to Cuba. He is currently in China as part of an official delegation led by the Speaker of the Parliament, Mihail Mikov.
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Optimistic is correct again. Just because Siderov spends €15,000 for 5 night stays in Paris hotels, holidays in Cuba whilst the budget is voted on in parliament, and has an offshore fortune of BGN 40million hidden in 5 offshore companies, does NOT mean that he should succumb to unjust political pressure and resign his position as Chairman of the Corruption and Conflict of Interest Committee. Mr Siderov is an honest man of the people and it is thanks to him that the current regime is still in power - he should be left in peace to enjoy his fortune.