On Thursday, in a live broadcast on bTV, Customs Head Vanyo Tanov, said the following regarding the notorious case “Misho the Beer”.
(The so-called “Misho the Beer” scandal erupted at the beginning of 2011, after recordings of phone conversations of then-Head of the Customs Agency, Vanyo Tanov (VT), leaked to the media. In one of them, former Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov (BB), is heard ordering Tanov – currently reappointed at the same post – to stop a Customs probe.)
Vanyo Tanov: Yes, of course. I brought the very Protocol of termination. This Protocol says that in the month of December, here it is, you can read it yourself, on January 5 a signal was received that disks have been submitted in the editorial office and so on, which contained such and such files, and how it is possible to have on January 5, for example, files of talks that were to be held in two months.
Host: These details were told by your lawyer in the studio as well.
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Vanyo Tanov: No, there’s something else. I currently brought, as one of televisions, I do not remember which, showed a protocol that “Bivol” has provided, saying that there was a perpetrator and there was a smudged name. This is the Protocol.
Host: And yet, have these conversations been held? Is it common practice for people in power; for people in high offices to pick up the phone, call the Customs Agency and say “Hello, Vanyo,” “Hello, Pavel”, or whoever?
Vanyo Tanov: I think that if you look at these protocols; see this one – is there anything recorded in this protocol? This is the Protocol, which was handed to the other side. Once it has been processed and additions were made, as the stamp was an obstacle for them, and here the Missis did not cooperate – the stamp was skipped /…/. These are things that seem to have been added therein and the handwriting is different. I first saw this Protocol now, having returned to the Agency, as this issue was dealt with by my replacement…”
Tanov specifically mentioned “Bivol” and several untruths emerged from his gibberish talk and they must be firmly dispelled:
1. The Protocol was “provided” by Bivol – not true. The Protocol was received by Bivol, following a request under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) over a refusal of Vanyo Tanov to provide it and after two years of court battle that the Customs Agency lost after it filed appeals on all instances. We have an official letter for the provision of the Protocol from the Customs Agency, with a document for this decision, and a transfer protocol and we paid the fee, for which we have respective documents. The receiving of the disk with the Protocol can be also validated by the security cameras of the Agency and by the list of names of visitors who are required to sign in a special book upon entering its building.
2. There are additions in the Protocol with a different handwriting and, in connection with the above untruth, it was nearly hinted that these additions were made by Bivol – we published the original as provided by the Customs Agency and if Tanov says otherwise, he will be sued for libel.
Bivol also demands a formal right of reply from bTV, but if we are denied that, we will file a complaint with the Council for Electronic Media (CEM). It is unacceptable, according to professional criteria and the Radio and Television Act, to manipulate the public opinion in this manner and to run away from the main question – WHO obstructed the Customs inspection by thwarting the record of the questioning as the Protocol shows. Why is Vanyo Tanov not publishing it with the names that have been deleted, along with the note to him, and improvises incoherently and misleads the public?
As for the signal being given on January 5 to the editorial office (he is referring to the newspaper Galeria) and the conversations having taken place two months later – here, obviously, Tanov is confusing the year. The conversations were held in March 2010, and recordings of them were given to the editorial office in January 2011. However, such discrepancy, regarding the time frame, is something normal for Tanov.
We quote the official letter of the former speaker of the Prosecutor’s Office, Steliyana Kojuharova, from February 1, 2012, in which she answers questions of Bivol:
“… An anonymous tipoff was received on March 13, 2010 in the operations center of the mobile customs teams that a brewery in the town of Mezdra is continuing production and bottling of beer, although its license has been revoked. Because the Customs Agency did not have the definition of the Sofia Administrative Court available, it had ordered the mobile customs team to conduct a new probe.
Such sudden customs inspection was carried out immediately, on the same day – March 13, 2010, between 8 pm and midnight.
On the occasion of the ongoing inspection, on the same day, after 8:30 pm, a conversation between Prime Minister Mr. Boyko Borissov and the Director of the Customs Agency took place.
On March 14, 2010, the Director of the Regional Customs in the town of Lom has submitted documentation from the probe. Then, the same was sent to the Lom Regional Customs for further action.”
Everything is crystal clear – there was a probe and while it was taking place, Tanov and Borisov talked on the phone and Borisov said: “OK, take them out of there; we made a commitment.”
Listen for yourself (in Bulgarian):
BB: OK, take them out of there; we made a commitment.
VT: Yes, but we are working in different directions. I am doing one thing, the Minister another.
BB: No, I called him and told him. So, who sent this group there?
VT: It happened because of a phone call.
BB: OK, you call now; take them out of there; we will talk more in person.
VT: Because he has no license.
BB: Yes, so this must be done ASAP.
VT: This is what I said – the materials on my desk, and to not do anything until I return and make a decision.
BB: OK. If needed, call him right now and tell him what we agreed on, because I made a commitment; I am not Parvanov. When I promised to not touch him, it means I would not touch him.
Despite the evasions of the Prosecution about the authenticity of the recording, in an interview with bloggers Asen Genov and Konstantin Pavlov, Borisov, himself, admitted that such conversation has taken place. He admitted that he interfered with a “guilty feeling” as this was not the right thing to do, but he was a person who could not deny a favor to someone.
The issue, however, is not whether this was right or wrong according to Borisov’s morals, but what it is according to the law. It is written in black and white in the Protocol that someone has impeded the questioning, which ultimately prevented the normal overall completion of the inspection. This will provide the answer to the main question – whether an offense of abuse of office was committed by the then-Prime Minister.
Given these facts, it is arrogant to claim that everything is fine. But Tanov is not the only impudent one. So are the Prosecutor’s Office, Borisov and the whole state machine harnessed to lie and conceal in order to make blatant corruption and abuse of power appear as something trivial.
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