Bulgarian Ethnic Turkish Politicians Quarrel over Nepotism Claims
Bulgaria's Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov and Deputy Chair of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms have gotten into an ugly fight over nepotism accusations.
Vezhdi Rashidov, a renown Bulgarian sculptor of Turkish origin and Culture Minister in the center-right government of the GERB party, revealed on Friday that Deputy Chair of the centrist ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which was part of the governing coalitions in 2001-2009), Lyutvi Mestan, had helped his relatives take advantage of Culture Ministry funds in the city of Kardzhali.
The quarrel erupted over the so called musical or "Turkish theaters" or the way that Rashidov referred to two theaters in Bulgarian districts with ethnic Turkish minority which he thinks have been used by DPS to channel state funds to their relatives and supporters while they were part of the government. These are the Kadrie Latifova Theater in Kardzhali and the Nazam Hikmet Theater in Razgrad.
Rashidov announced that the Deputy Director of the first theater, Sabiha Mestan, is the wife of Lyutvi Mestan's first cousin. Sabiha Mestan is said to have registered a private firm hosted in the building of the theater that received state funds illegally; her brother, who is also said to be a distant cousin of Lyutvi Mestan has been appointed as the theater's driver.
The whole issue erupted over Rashidov's intention to merge the two "Turkish theaters" with the local mainstream theaters, which according to the DPS party will amount to their closure.
Mestan, a MP from the DPS party, reacted strongly to Rashidov's claims about his involvement in nepotism. He said he would resign as a deputy if the Minister's allegations were proven right, but that Rashidov must resign if they are proven wrong.
"The minister has lied – this is a lowly, perfidious, nasty, and disgraceful lie. I bet my political career. He should do the same and if he fails to prove that, he must free Bulgarian culture from his cynicism and lies," Mestan told reporters in Parliament.
He also made it clear he considered filing a libel suit, and appealing to the Prime Minister but might abstain from that because he did not want to be tangled in such a lowly affair.
Before leaving Parliament on Friday, Rashidov said Mestan had already been made aware of the nepotism claims.
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