SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — The Bulgarian parliament’s quick appointment of a legislator and media mogul to head the country’s security service sparked massive protests Friday and prompted the president to demand the decision be immediately reversed.
Delyan Peevski, 33, was endorsed by legislators from the ruling left-leaning bloc in a 116-87 vote with one abstention. Peevski was the only one nominated for the post and the vote was not preceded by the usual debate.
President Rosen Plevneliev urged parliament to “immediately” retract its decision, saying it would have “long-term negative consequences for Bulgaria.” He also called a meeting of the national security council next week to discuss Peevski’s appointment.
Peevski and his mother, Irena Krasteva, control a network of national newspapers and television channels. Those who oppose his appointment believe his roles as spy chief and a media mogul would collide.
Several thousand people, organized through social media, rallied in front of government headquarters Friday to demand that the decision be revoked, shouting “Mafia!” and “Resignation!” The protesters accused the government of having ties with the oligarchy and demanded that early elections be called immediately.
“The election of Delyan Peevski at the helm of the state security agency is an arrogant sign that the mafia has taken over the state,” the conservative DSB party said in a statement.
In 2007, Peevski was fired as a deputy minister of emergency situations in a corruption scandal. He was eventually cleared after an investigation established no wrongdoing, however, and was reinstated in the post.
The current government, backed by the Socialists and a smaller ethnic Turkish party, was formed after the May 12 election. Together the two groups have 120 seats in the 240-member parliament, which makes it difficult for them to push through reforms of the country’s ailing economy.