Second time in a row: Bulgaria’s prosecutor general refuses to accept a report on the human rights situation in the country

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For the second year in a row, Bulgaria’s prosecutor general rejected the annual report about the situation of human rights in Bulgaria prepared by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC)—largest and oldest human rights non-profit in the country. Sotir Tsatsarov, head of public prosecution in Bulgaria, received the report and immediately returned it back in an envelope of his institution, BHC reported on Wednesday.

Human rights defenders are puzzled even more by the reaction of one of Mr. Tsatsarov’s deputies—Ivan Geshev,—who accepted a copy of the report and responded by sending to BHC two books of Bulgaria’s literary classic: Ivan Vazov’s ‘Under the Yoke’ and collected short stories of Yordan Yovkov. Specific chapters were marked in both books.

In ‘Under the Yoke’ it was chapter 22, where the protagonists—19th century Bulgarians—facing a failure of an uprising against the Ottoman empire bravely stand up with only a single cannon against the foreign power under whose rule they’ve been living for five centuries. In the second book, a short story about the Gipsy girl Bojura was marked. It starts with a description of how Bojura’s mother was bringing her daughter with her when selling goods in order to exploit people’s pity. Both tropes are popularly utilized in Bulgarian nationalistic narratives against Turks and Roma people.

“We are very surprised by this reaction of the prosecutor general a second year in a row. It seems to us that he either is unwilling to learn about the situation of human rights in Bulgaria or he does not think that these matters concern the institution of the prosecutor general,” said Krassimir Kanev, chair of the BHC.

“We are also puzzled with the reaction of the deputy prosecutor general Geshev,” said Mr. Kanev. “We can guess that his message is connected somehow with ethnic minorities in Bulgaria but how exactly—remains unclear.”

The BHC sends annually their report on the human rights situation in Bulgaria to institutions and persons of the legislative, executive and judicial branch, as well as media and academia. For the time since the publishing of the report started in 1992, no other institution has ever rejected the report, nor they responded with symbolical gestures.

In their report for 2018, the BHC stresses on the erosion of democratic institutions and good governance in Bulgaria, worsening climate for vulnerable groups and human rights defenders, and the rise of popularity of right-wing organizations and conservative reactionaries in Bulgaria. ♦