The leader of the European People’s Party, Donald Tusk, said the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had “confessed” to him about a scandal with leaked photos allegedly revealing his hidden wealth. Tusk revealed no details but said that what he had heard sounded like “a crime movie”.
On 17 June, an anonymous email sender made available to the media a photo of Borissov sleeping in his bedroom in the official state residence in Boyana with a handgun on his nightstand, and other photos showing drawers full of bundles of 500-euro notes and a few gold ingots, in what appears to be the same bedroom.
Officially, Borissov has no personal fortune and lives from his salary.
The photos shocked the public and contributed to sparking popular protests in Bulgaria that entered their 110th day on Monday (26 October), with demonstrators asking for Borissov’s resignation.
Borissov never explicitly denied the authenticity of the photos but appeared to suggest that his arch-foe, President Rumen Radev, had sent “a nice woman” to do the job – including the photos – in his bedroom.
In a telephone interview for Free Europe, published in Bulgarian on Saturday, Tusk said Borissov had tried to explain the scandal when the two met in Brussels on 2 October.
An open talk w/ PM Boyko Borissov. Bulgaria has come a long way during his time in office but challenges remain. Further reforms needed w/ rule of law, independent justice & fighting corruption- our core EPP values. Democracy in Bulgaria will have its final say in the elections. pic.twitter.com/XbI8Iwe4DO
— Donald Tusk (@donaldtuskEPP) October 2, 2020
“He tried to explain the whole scandal in detail and it sounded very frank. His story was really, somewhat scary, suitable for a screenplay for a crime movie or an interesting novel. Now seriously – yes, he is in trouble. He made obvious mistakes, including in his personal life. He was completely honest with me”, Tusk said.
“I will keep the discretion because his story sounded like a confession. And please allow me to be more discreet because it was about his personal life. But I still believe that he is able to prove that he is – if not the ideal democrat – at least still a democrat “.
Borissov himself has never fully explained the situation with the photos to the media.
Since the protests started, he has been avoiding journalists and delivering his messages on Facebook. On Sunday, he tested positive for COVID, with mild symptoms, and for the time being, he follows a treatment in his home.
There have been other allegations about Borissov possessing expensive property abroad and even having been part of money-laundering schemes, but they have not been substantiated or proved. Borissov has steadily denied any wrongdoing and commented that such attacks come from Radev and from those who want to change the geopolitical course of Bulgaria.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]