Arrest following NOVA investigation. A municipal councilor from Zemen was detained in Pernik on Friday morning. The action of ODMVR-Pernik follows the investigation of Marieta Nikolaeva for additional address registrations. A massive special operation is being conducted in the entire Perniški region.
The detained Dimitar Dimitrov, who was elected as a municipal councilor in the local vote on October 29, denies participating in schemes to guarantee votes for payment. In front of the NOVA camera, he stated that “there are no registrations made for the purpose of voting”.
“I’m not worried about this arrest, not at all. I didn’t give any money. I am even surprised that so many people are reported as registered”, commented Dimitrov minutes after his arrest.
“As of now, pre-trial proceedings have been initiated for a crime against the political rights of citizens. His involvement in the preparation of documents for the registration of persons on the territory of the Municipality of Zemen is clarified. It is about more than 30 people registered at one address. Expertises have been appointed to show where the documents were prepared, by whom they were presented and in what manner. At the moment, there is an investigation into vote buying”, stated the head of the “Economic Police” at the ODMVR-Pernik, Kiril Ivanov.
The population of the town of Zemen is about 1800 people. A few days ago, an investigation by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works found an additional 180 people registered. It turned out that these people did not live there and were deregistered. It is suspected that the registrations in question were potential votes for the local vote.
NOVA team on the trail of election registrations
Registrations are made by the GRAO office. The NOVA team found the employee who made them. “Some people I saw in person, but not all of them. By law, they are required to be present.. The documents are in order for me”, she stated.
After it became clear about the additional registrations, the mayor of Zemen went on sick leave. We looked for him at his home. Asked about the 180 registrations, he replied: “I can’t tell you, I’m on sick leave. I don’t know, I’m not aware. Not that I don’t know, but I don’t know who they are. Come tomorrow and I will give you an interview”. The next day, Sotirov did not keep his agreement. Our team couldn’t find him for the promised interview. The former mayor has already served six consecutive terms. He was expected to run again, but the party supporting him fielded another candidate.
In addition to Zemen, registrations were also made in the surrounding villages, including Zabliano. New residents – a total of 45 people, there are even in the Zablyan Monastery. In the Holy Monastery, the NOVA team found only Father Joseph and his two pets.
“There are no such registrations. There have never been 45 people registered. I don’t know where this information came from and who allowed himself to involve the monastery in such pre-election speculations”, replied Father Joseph.
Karmi Said Kodas is also registered in Zabljano. He is the owner of a bakery in Pernik. “My friend signed me up. He is a candidate for municipal councilor. His name is Dimitar Dimitrov”, explained Kodas.
The reference showed us that Dimitrov is a municipal councilor from “Vazrazhdane”. We looked for him to find out if he had made additional registrations that would provide him with votes.
“Leave me alone. I don’t want cameras,” said the candidate for municipal councilor. In a conversation without a camera, he admits that in the spring he made registrations on his property in Zabljano. “Indeed, there are registered people in my house. There are various arrangements – who will maintain the yard, who will finish the house. I have no memory of how many are registered in my house,” he adds.
The registrations were made by the deputy mayor of the village. She refused to meet with our team.
The curious thing about the case was that days after the deregistration of the 180 people, some of them appealed against it. Among those who filed a complaint is Karmi, as well as Kalin – a general worker at the market in Pernik. He says he doesn’t even know where the city he’s registered is located. “I have lost my ID card many times. No one has offered me money”, explained the man a few days ago.
“There is no complaint on my behalf. I can’t write and read,” Kalin later shared. These appeals were submitted by an authorized lawyer – former prosecutor and member of the Supreme Judicial Council Nestor Nestorov.
“I met all the people. I have no relation. Some people who were in Pernik hired me, they called me and I went,” explains Nestorov.
According to NOVA sources, over 50 voting applications were submitted from the same IP address.
Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov confirmed what was reported in the NOVA investigation. He also commented that it is possible that some of the deregistered were able to exercise their right to vote.
“Pre-trial proceedings have been initiated in the case. I had the opportunity to watch the report. Production is still underway. I imagine there will be a lot of document crimes coming out. I confirm some of the facts, the others are being checked,” the minister specified in an interview with NOVA on Sunday.
“On our own initiative, we managed to deregister a large part of the persons in question. Unfortunately, there are probably those who have exercised their right to vote,” Stoyanov pointed out.
After the detention of Dimitrov, the “Vazrazhdane” party sent an official position on the case. “Another repression against “Vazrazhdane” is underway. Our candidate in Zemen is facing a run-off against the former director of the gendarmerie from GERB. Because “Vazrazhdane” will win the run-off in Zemen, GERB are activating their well-known mutineer practices. The former head of the gendarmerie uses the gendarmerie for political pressure. Now what should we expect? That our other candidates will be arrested in Gabrovo and in Bankya?”, the party wrote.