Bulgarian police detain former PM Borissov after EU probes

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was detained Thursday in a nationwide police operation following investigations by the EU prosecutor’s office.

The Interior Ministry said Borissov has been taken in custody for 24 hours. It did not elaborate on the accusations against him.

“A large-scale law enforcement operation is underway in connection with 120 cases of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bulgaria,” according to a ministry press release.

“Nobody is above the law,” current Prime Minister Kiril Petkov wrote in a Facebook post.

Borissov, 62, was detained along with other members of his opposition center-right GERB party, among them an ex-finance minister, a former head of the parliamentary budgetary commission and Borissov’s media adviser.

Police declined to comment on the motives behind the arrests, but local media said the cases were about “misuse of EU aid.”

Media reported about searches and seizures by police in different cities across the country.

The police raids come after a two-day visit to Sofia by European Chief Prosecutor Laura Koevesi.

“European prosecutors have opened 120 investigations of fraud (in Bulgaria) involving EU money related to public tenders, agricultural subsidies, construction, and coronavirus recovery funds,” Koevesi said at the end of her visit Thursday.

“Now is the time for the relevant Bulgarian authorities to team up with us, including on particularly sensitive cases,” she added.

A former three-time prime minister, Borissov resigned after a newly formed party won last year’s general elections pledging to uproot widespread corruption.

Borissov himself has several times been the object of corruption allegations during his decade-long tenure but has denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been pressed against him.

Bulgaria, a member of both the EU and NATO, also has come under scrutiny from its Western partners due to its long-standing problems with corruption, adhering to the rule of law and preserving freedom of the media.

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