Bulgaria’s former PM Boyko Borissov released from detention

Bulgarian former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was released from custody on Friday after prosecutors failed to come up with enough evidence to press charges against him.

Borissov, 62, was taken into custody along with former Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, and Borissov’s media adviser, Sevdalina Arnaudova, who also have been released.

“Brutal, nasty, they brought us back to communism. Last night we had dinner with the children – civilian and uniformed police officers entered. No charges – nothing”, an emotional Borissov said immediately after his release.

Borissov’s lawyer, Menko Menkov, said the arrest was part of an investigation into alleged extortion, but added that it was “not clear who was the target of that, when, how, and for what reasons.”

At a briefing in the Council of Ministers late in the evening, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov responded to prosecutors’ allegations that the investigation against opposition leader Boyko Borissov for blackmailing Vasil Bozhkov had not gathered enough evidence to bring charges.

“We are once again facing absolute sabotage of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria under the leadership of Mr Geshev. From what we heard from the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office – documents for a request for indictment are hidden, which we can easily obtain. ” said Kiril Petkov.

A former three-time prime minister between 2009 and 2021, Borissov resigned after a newly formed party won last year’s general election pledging to uproot widespread corruption.

Borissov previously has been the subject of corruption allegations several times during his tenure but has denied any wrongdoing and no charges had been filed against him.

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

According to the interior minister, the investigation is at an early stage and dynamic evidence is to be collected in the coming days and weeks.