Tapping scandals are now a tradition From the very beginning of changes in Bulgaria 18 years ago, there have been regular scandals to do with illegal telephone monitoring (tapping) of politicians and journalists. These have marked the mandates of all our governments. 1992 - In September, the newly elected chairman of the Supreme Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Jan Videnov announced that his party’s headquarters at 20 Pozitano Street were being tapped. He claimed that his room was bugged with the so called “ears”. At the time, UDF (The Union of Democratic Forces) governed the country, and the Minister of Interior was Yordan Sokolov. He ordered an immediate check of the building but no equipment was reported found. 1994 - The ”Kruleva” Parliamentary Commission published a report according to which Ahmed Dogan, Sherife Mustafa, and other MRF (The Movement for Rights and Freedoms) leaders had been bugged in the autumn of 1992 at the order of the Internal Minister Yordan Sokolov. This was done by listening in on Mehmed Tefik’s telephone, Tefik being a witness from “that list”. This information was later confirmed by the Internal Minister with Luben Berov’s Cabinet, Viktor Mihaylov. 1994 - the first law on Special Intelligence Means was adopted. 2001 - former chief of Military Prosecutor’s Office Lilko Yotsov filed a complaint for telephone tapping in 1994 during Reneta Indzhova’s caretaker government, ordered by then Interior Minister Chavdar Chervenkov. 1996 - Chair of the National Executive Council (NEC) of then opposition UDF, Ivan Kostov complained that during the presidential elections in the autumn of 1996 two ”bugs” were found at UDF headquarters. One of them was in the room of Democracy Newspaper editor-in-chief, the other on the floor of his own office. The opposition demanded an explanation from then Interior Minister, the socialist Nikolay Dobrev. 1997 - a new law on Special Intelligence Means (SIM) adopted. 1998 - in September, a telephone tapping
device was discovered in a mill owned by the UDF deputy Teodosiy Simeonov, later a Minister of Justice. 2000 - former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev claimed that in 1998 General Atanasov had asked him to sign an order for telephone monitoring of Andrey Raychev. 2000 - MP Dimitar Ludzhev accused Prime Minister Ivan Kostov of ordering Head of National Security Service (NSS) General Atanas Atanasov, currently a DSB (Democrats for Strong Bulgaria) mandate MP, to perform telephone tapping of 43 opposition politicians and journalists with the purpose of gathering compromising information against them. 2000 - on 28 July, tapping devices were discovered in the house of then Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev. The microphones were connected to a telephone exchange installed in the house of retired Colonel Plamen Arsov, a former SOTI official. Arsov and former SOTI Chief Svetozar Spasov were arrested. Proceedings have still not been completed, as the defendants will not plead guilty. According to some information in the press, 700 apartments in Sofia and 3,000 throughout the country are currently “equipped”. 2000 - on 24 November, prosecutor Nikolay Chiprov, Head of ”General Supervision” Department with the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office and former Chairman of the Military College with the Supreme Administrative Court provided the Supreme Judicial Council with recordings of tapped magistrates’ conversations. 2001 - a telephone technician was caught recording politicians’ conversations in the Automatic Telephone Exchange 7. Tape recorders were installed on 1 December 2000 and uninstalled with the technician’s arrest toward the end of January 2001. The NSS admitted the technician was their agent. OBEKTIV 1
2002 - Minister of Justice with the Simeon Sax Coburg Gotha’s Cabinet Anton Stankov appeared to have been subjected to telephone monitoring. The object of investigation was police officer Zhivko Georgiev but he appeared to have been in contact with the Minister. Another alleged victim of tapping was the head of the Sailors’ Trade Union, Plamen Simov. As a result, his conversations with Edvin Sugarev had been recorded. These useless recordings were supposed to have been destroyed within 10 days but they had not. 2002 - between mid October and mid November, former Counter-Intelligence (NSS) Chief Atanas Atanasov had been subject to monitoring. Approval was granted as part of Operation Gnome. Tapping had also been used for politicians and journalists. It is also said that among them were Peter Stoyanov, Nadezhda Mihaylova (the then UDF leader), Lili Marinkova, Nikolay Barekov, etc. 2003 - on Ministry of Interior insistence amendments were made to the SIM law to allow action with an order from the Minister without the prior approval of the court in cases of national security threats. The court is then to pass judgement on the Minister’s order within 24 hours. 2005 - Prosecutor’s Office project for the Law on the Fight against Organised Crime proposes each individual case where an investigation is employing SIM to be entered in a
central register with the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office. Police officers and investigators approved or ordered to employ tapping devices would have to present the device for registry entry within 72 hours. This draft law has not been adopted so far. 2007 - Head of the Strike Committee at the Pirogov Institute Krastyo Penchev M.D. was identified on a recording while providing advice to Mityo ”Ochite” on how to behave so as to be certified as a clinical case. The Ministry of Interior never provided an acceptable explanation of whether this recording was made using SIM, and if yes, why was it not used in court or destroyed within the term provided for by law. 2007 - former National Guard Service (NGS) officer Nikolay Markov claims in front of the Internal Security and Public Order Parliamentary Committee that the NGS is engaged in observation and telephone monitoring of politicians. The collected information was for the use of the Head of State. A check by the Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev in 2001 revealed that out of 10,034 tapping cases with SIM for 1999 and 2000, only 267, or less than 3 per cent, had been used by the court. Of them, only 100 were actually registered as evidence in the courtroom.