Controversial Bulgarian MP Peevski Quits Businesses

Bulgarian politician and media mogul Delyan Peevski says he is pulling out of future business projects, blaming a ‘continuous media campaign’ against him.

Bulgarian flag

Bulgarian MP, businessman and media mogul Delyan Peevski – who was recently called “the iceberg of corruption in Bulgaria” by Germany’s Der Spiegel – is giving up on business projects in Bulgaria, he announced on Monday. Peevski also declared his withdrawal from a bid to acquire the assets of the insolvent communist-era chemical factory Chimko, which he claimed in January through his company NSN Investment.

The MP from the ethnic-Turkish dominated Movements for Rights and Freedoms, MRF, attributed his decision to “unfounded political pressure and continuous media campaign” against him, which he said had exerted an “exceptionally negative effect” on the firms in which he holds shares as well as on companies he has nothing to do with. “I find it unacceptable for an EU member state that through pressure and negative campaigns the good reputation of Bulgarian companies is being discredited and their activity is being challenged,” Peevski said. “Let my political opponents and those who speak against me feel content that they have achieved their goals – I am giving up on participating in Bulgarian business projects,” the MP explained.

Peevski has long been a controversial figure in Bulgarian politics. His dizzy-making political and business ascent has become a symbol of corruption for much of society.In June 2013, when he was appointed head of the national security agency, DANS, the biggest street protests that Sofia had seen in over a decade erupted. Since then, after 15 years of political and economic success, the 35-year-old owner of a media empire has come under more fire.

On February 12, Turkish media outlets reported that Turkey had banned him and the honorary chairman of the MRF, Ahmed Dogan, from entering Turkey. The Turkish newspaper Sabah called Peevski an “oligarch” and accused him of trading in contraband cigarettes produced by the Bulgarian company Bulgartabac, in which he used to hold a 5-per-cent share. Investigations uncovering Bulgartabac’s role in smuggling cigarettes in Turkey through the Middle East have appeared in the Bulgarian media as well.

On March 16, the tobacco firm said it was halting deliveries to the Middle East from April 1, blaming a “negative media campaign” for its decision to withdraw from the Middle Eastern market, where it has had a significant presence for decades. Two days later, on March 18, the investing intermediary Capman announced that it had sold 368,361 shares of Bulgartabac Holding – the exact same number of shares as that held by Peevski’s company, Tobacco Investment. His political career is also in trouble.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that as long as Peevski remains part of the MRF, the Turkish minority party cannot participate in a government alongside the PM’s party, GERB. The statement put a question mark over Peevski’s political future.

Balkan Insight 

22 March 2016