“The Best Man Gate model distorts political democracy in Bulgaria and influences election results at all levels,” the MP from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Valery Zhablyanov said recently, revealing a new nepotism scheme in appointments in the Bulgar Trans Gas company linked to his colleague from the ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, Delyan Dobrev.

The scandal called “Best Man Gate” stems from the long-ignored revelations by Bivol about nepotism in municipal appointments in the city of Haskovo and public procurement won by people close to Delyan Dobrev, including building rehabilitation (see here).

Zhablyanov, however, is hardly the most appropriate trump card in the fight for transparency and eliminating nepotism announced by the BSP. At least, because

The MP’s wife has been fired because of a conflict of interest

In the first months of the first GERB term in 2009, Economy and Energy Minister Traycho Traykov dismissed six employees of Directorate “European Funds for Competitiveness” which oversees the implementation of the Operational Program “Competitiveness”. The head of the Directorate, Ivette Zhablyanova, was among the dismissed. The reason given by the Minister was “conflict of interest”.

“They will be removed from work, with the punishment for their deeds being up to three years of imprisonment,” Traycho Traykov said at the time, quoted by the Bulgarian daily Dnevnik.

 

The daily explained that at the time of Mrs. Zhablyanova’s appointment there had been comments that she had received it due to political reasons. Her husband, political scientist Valeri Zhablyanov, was then already a BSP member and close advisor to former Socialist Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.

However, Zhablyanova and her subordinates were never imprisoned. Instead, a few years later, the family showed distinct signs of

Growing wealth

It is not known what Ivette Zhablianova has done after she became unemployed. There is no trace in the Trade Register of her having a successful business. The only company with her participation was deleted in 2008.

Valery Zhablyanov became MP in 2013, but in March 2012, the family plot in the prestigious Simeonovo suburb was already under construction, according to Google Maps photographs from the time (see here).

 

Zhablyanov’s completed family villa in Simeonovo

The construction was completed and the villa was furnished in the beginning of 2014. This is evidenced by criminal records, according to which on January 11, 2014, Zhiliyanov’s residence was robbed and jewelery and equipment were stolen.

The MEP’s declaration from 2013 does not contain any information about the villa being built, but in 2014 Zhablyanov declared a “right to build” for a total of BGN 360,000 for him and his wife. The origin of funds was listed as “a loan and savings”.

However, there is no sign of such a loan in declarations submitted by Zhablyanov. The declared mortgage loan from DSK bank in the amount BGN 67,000 has been used for the purchase of a completely different property – an apartment in a condo building located in Sofia’s Kriva Reka district, according to a reference in the Property Register.

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