Transcription of the participation of Atanas Tchobanov and Dimitar Stoyanov in “Who Speaks” on Darik Radio hosted by Maria Cheresheva on April 11, 2023. You can listen to the recording here.
Host: We told you about the journalists from the investigative media BIRD, who are under a rather serious attack, not only prosecutorial but also judicial. A little context, before we start our conversation, today they are here with us. But, on March 16, the prosecution issued a press conference, perhaps many of you remember it, some compared it to a performance, others to a spectacle. Let’s say that it was accused of people connected to the criminal world and other operatively interesting persons, as they are called in these circles, but they were also mentioned… the journalist from BIRD Dimitar Stoyanov was mentioned, a recording of his with his source had been leaked. But this continued, it was not taken very seriously by journalists and analysts what we heard, but the prosecution firmly decided to move forward with the actions it has taken, and on April 7 came out with a press release saying that it had initiated pre-trial proceedings against an organized criminal group, including mentioning, we will find out whether it belongs to this group or not in a moment, Again Dimitar Stoyanov. His chats with his source have also been published. I hope we have time to explain how journalists work with sources of information so that the public understands things that no one wants to be understood, because this is the biggest challenge for investigative journalism. In the same messages, persons such as Diliyan Georgiev, Ovidiu Semenescu, Tsetso from Belgrade or Tsvetan Vassilev, Krasimir Kamenov, better known as Karo, are mentioned. It is interesting that this happens with a series of lawsuits against journalists from BIRD, again Dimitar Stoyanov, but also the editor-in-chief Atanas Tchobanov and their colleague from Bivol – Nikolay Marchenko, brought by a recent business partner of Karo, or a folk partner, Razmig Chakarian – Well. Everything becomes very complicated, but we have to explain it to you, because the feeling of pressure on journalists on an unprecedented scale is created. Why is this happening? If there is a clash between the interests of the prosecution, criminal circles and journalists, we will talk with the suspect Dimitar Stoyanov, this in the circle of jokes. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be in quotation marks or not. Hello.
Dimitar: Good morning
Host: Good morning and the founder of BIRD Atanas Chobanov, who is with us on the phone. Hello.
Atanas: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: We hear each other beautifully. Usually we start conversations with our interlocutors, who are from a distance, but now, we can not help but turn to Dimitar Stoyanov, directly involved in this scenario. We wonder what is happening and why it is happening.
Dimitar: I myself would also like to know what is going on. In general, the actions of the prosecution, as cliché as it sounds, are unprecedented.
Host: In this case, it is no coincidence that we use this word, which is perhaps worn out a lot of meaning.
Dimitar: I go back in time. With my colleague Chobanov, while we were part of Bivol’s team and after we became part of the BIRD team, we have more than three investigations dedicated to Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, in which investigations have exposed evidence of corruption on his part. We’re not talking about rumors here, we’re not talking about anything like that.
Interviewer: When he became Attorney General or before?
Dimitar: And before that and in the period when he was already Prosecutor General. They were published at the moment when he became Attorney General, but relate to the stage where he was ordinary.
Host: Row, but he investigated one of the biggest cases, such as Corpbank, which we know how far it has come.
Dimitar: Yes and Corpbank AD and
and there are…
Host: A regular prosecutor who has a brilliant career ahead of him.
Dimitar: He has shown that he is suitable for our conditions as Prosecutor General. And at some point I see my communication with my source, a fact, Diliyan Georgiev is my source.
Host: You do not deny that there is such communication and it happened.
Dimitar: No, Diliyan Georgiev is a man who is very interesting for a journalist who deals with criminal investigations and economic investigations. He signed an agreement, say, under some pressure, that he racketeered Ahmed Dogan, Delyan Peevski… Only when these two names are mentioned is it enough to arouse interest. And the racketeering is in connection with a report of the French services, which testifies that Mr. Peevski financed terrorism. We also have an international element. What normal journalist would not have an interest in Mr. Georgiev? In this case, I have one. Our communication with him is clear to all our colleagues, of course to Atanas Chobanov… And I went to great lengths to persuade him to give an interview. And I’m so sorry I didn’t make it on time. At the moment when we already had an agreement for him to speak, which arrangement was obviously recorded by a protected witness of the prosecution, Philip Stoyanov, he was detained. Because this interview would have thrown a very big stone in the swamp.
Host: I guess it took months or more before that, and these chats that the prosecution publishes are again from your communication.
Dimitar: Yes, the chats are from our communication.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Chobanov and to you. The media you created and run is under unprecedented attack. Your colleague Dimitar here we do not know whether he will be charged as a defendant in part of this organized criminal group, as the prosecution claims. How can you protect yourself?
Atanas: Ah, we comment with him that God forbid they attract him, because this will be unprecedented and will cause a huge scandal. Naturally, there is nothing to be attracted or accused of Dimitar, but instead Geshev will be the focus of attention at home and abroad once again as a obscurantist tool of the mafia. I want to take the tape back a bit, if I may.
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Atanas: To better understand the context.
Interviewer: The context is very important in this story.
Atanas: Very important and at the bottom of this building sit two key names – Peevski and Taki, who are partners in crime. Neighbors in Dubai. So…
THE PRESIDENT: Do you have any evidence of that?
Atanas: Yes, there is evidence that they have properties in Dubai, now, how much they are neighbors is already relative. They move with tuples with thugs and guards. Whatever. In 2017, if I’m not mistaken, a report of the Turkish cigarette smuggling services from Bulgartabac came out, which financed the PKK considered a terrorist organization.
Interviewer: These are the Kurds.
Atanas: Since cigarettes pass through Iraq, during these troubled years there was an Islamic State there. The trucks are deducted from the various groups and checkpoints there and are financed in this way.
Host: I remember in Iraq I was told that in Iraqi Kurdistan then only Bulgarian cigarettes were smoked. I’ve heard it from at least a few sources.
Atanas: And this thing has been since the time of socialism, these are the old channels for export of cigarettes, which were held by the State Security. After Peevski privatized Bulgartabac, these channels were reactivated and it came to the point that the Turkish treasury began to lose big money from Marlborough, which is sold for about 3 liras, not 10, as it should, say, in Istanbul. Their services are investigating, they are going to the main smuggler, Salam some kind of one was there, Iraqi. They arrest him, drop him because they didn’t know who they caught. And they unravel the whole scheme how cigarettes get from Bulgaria by ships, unload, overload, through Dubai, Iraq, with trucks to Turkey. And they make a report that they send to Interpol, send it to Celek, this is the Balkan Interpol in Bucharest and come out with a communique explicitly stating Bulgartabac, and separately Dogan and Peevski were forbidden to enter Turkey. Do you remember these things?
Host: I remember yes, but it is good that you remember them, because our listeners may have forgotten in this turbulent environment of such events.
Atanas: So. Tsatsarov was asked many times about this report. He’s spinning, sucking on the chair, but we’re going to demand it officially, it can’t do so on media publications… What happened? Did they demand it? Because they have no problem demanding it and investigating it. That sank. But Peevski, at one point, hop, sold Bulgartabac, liquidated it, fired its workers, did not pay a penalty and finished with cigarettes.
Host: Let’s also recall some protests of his workers in front of media that covered that his company has problems. Some staged protests in Sofia.
Atanas: That’s right.
THE PRESIDENT: And what’s the connection?
Atanas: Well, the connection is that this report was not only Turkish. It was not only the Turkish services, there was another report for which at one point Diliyan Georgiev and another Romanian were arrested and it is claimed in the minutes of the case that they went to an intermediary of Peevski and told him: There is a report here, it is said that it belongs to the French services, if he pays some 10 million we will remove his name from him.
Host: How can they remove his name from a French report of the special services?
Atanas: Well, come on? First of all, no one has seen this report, secondly, Peevski and Dogan themselves say that they do not know that they are blackmailing them to pay 10 million…
Host: And third, who is one Diliyan Georgiev to manipulate French reports? These are super basic questions.
Atanas: That’s right. He was also charged in France. Ovidiu Semenescu, who is Romanian…
THE PRESIDENT: Which was mentioned later. Since we don’t have much time, we still have 7-8 minutes.
Atanas: No, let me say these things. And the main witness against, the protected witness of the prosecution, who is a witness against Diliyan Georgiev and the others, because these are the same persons they accuse now, is Ivan Petleshkov, who is very close to Taki.
Interviewer: That’s exactly what I was going to ask what the relationship with Taki was. Here’s the link.
Atanas: Well, here’s your link: Ivan Petleshkov. He has a security company, he guarded the strategic Sopot factories when there were sabotages there.
And an American citizen died, if I’m not mistaken.
Dimitar: No, that’s another case. This is after 2015.
Atanas: Petleshkov is Taki’s man, Petleshkov is Peevski’s man. Petleshkov is the witness of the prosecution. And Petleshkov appeared a year later, when we published a reference in which he wrote that Petleshkov paid Mikhail Naumov, head of the Homicide Department at the CDNP, to cover Taki, to stretch an umbrella for him, to monitor the movements of Karo, Well… In the same Ruja Ignatova was killed on behalf of Taki.. These are police documents, they are not police documents, but from police sources who are in a murder case and are VDS. These are not flying leaves, as the prosecution shows, but they are documents that are in case.
To our listeners, this investigation, if you open BIRD, stands in the first place.
That’s right. You see the connection between this criminal group: Peevski, Taki, Petleshkov, their assistants in the CDNP, when you read this reference it becomes very clear. There are no investigations on this report. There is no investigation that Ruja was murdered, no investigation into the fact that Naumov accepted expensive gifts, a trip to Cuba… There’s a copy of this guy’s passport, the cop’s passport in the report. And other cops. They’re not flying leaves.
THE PRESIDENT: But no investigations have been initiated on this data.
Atanas: It’s nothing. Nothing.
Dimitar: As long as Naumov is there, there will be none.
Atanas: There is an investigation against a criminal group that is about to overthrow Geshev by publishing this report. This is what was formed…
Host: And to clarify, it is believed that the journalist to meet with sources that you explained very well why they are interesting and why every investigative journalists would like to talk to people involved in such schemes in order to understand more… In general, talking and meeting with such people is considered a conspiracy against the state. Is that how I understand Mr. Stoyanov.
Atanas: Yes and the third episode Kapitan Andreevo. What’s going on with Captain Andreevo? These parking lots: Golden Parking, Golden Pool,
, all this is tied to Taki and tied to the huge question of how come the largest European border was broken through and given into the hands of the mafia. Bribes are given to ministers…
THE PRESIDENT: A topic of great public interest. And why, in your opinion, in parallel with the prosecutor’s action, we will see whether these investigations will pass in court, often such noisy actions ultimately fail, how do you connect it with the numerous cases that have been brought against you by the so-called. Well, Razmig Chakaryan, who is one so, owner of one of the companies of the golden pool.
Atanas: Dimitar to say, but it is clear to me that this is a form of pressure that aims to exhaust us financially.
THE PRESIDENT: Dimitar?
Dimitar: These are the typical SLAPP cases.
Host: Dela-slaps as they are called in the journalistic community.
Dimitar: We even realized that we had to expect new cases. Mr. Chakarian is very unhappy that we have consecrated his relationship with GERB.
Host: The investigation says: Interests of Taki and GERB in the Golden Pool, Parking and Laboratory of Kapitan Andreevo. Right? It can also be seen on BIRD.BG
Dimitar: Yes, he is related to his partners with Taki, this is undoubtedly a fact, because the Commercial Register shows it, not someone else.
Host: That is, we are talking about working with open data, something that everyone can see.
Dimitar: Except for sources and open data. It is clear that Mr. Chakarian’s name is not at all an example of a socially responsible citizen. He was associated with a beating of journalists from Nova TV.
Host: Ognyan Penev and Maria Milkova, right?
Dimitar: Yes, later it became clear that the interests of the companies related to him are served as a lawyer by the chairman of the municipal council in Svilengrad, who is from GERB. There are very serious suspicions that this point is an entry for drug trafficking. There’s a lot of information, there’s more to come up.
THE PRESIDENT: What is he judging you for?
Dimitar: He judges us for undermining his good name. Art. 45 of the Obligations and Contracts Act – unauthorized damage. This is not the place to comment on it, but the legal framework for cases against media is very imperfect and does not meet European standards. And in normal countries, when there is a media publication, the subject of the media publication must prove that he is not guilty, not the journalist.
Host: And in Bulgaria it is the opposite: the journalist is guilty until proven guilty.
Dimitar: Exactly, it does not correspond to the European regulation, to the European law. And which actually makes you guilty while protecting the public interest.
Host: Because these topics, I think there is no doubt, what is happening with Ruja Ignatova, who is one of the most wanted people in the world? What is happening with the Andrevo checkpoint in the context of the desire Bulgaria to be admitted to Schengen, and many more topics, I think there is no doubt that we are talking about public interest. But we have one minute for both of you. Mr. Chobanov, how will you defend yourself from now on, because it seems that very serious mechanisms have been triggered against you?
Atanas: We have a protocol for responding to such crisis situations, this is not the first time. Dimitar was arrested on the occasion of an investigation that is also related to Taki, right, GP Group. So…
While documents were burned…
That’s right, I want to emphasize thickly. This mafia: Peevski, Taki, Geshev as their delegated Prosecutor General. Because he does not work in the public interest, he works for them, he is the largest hydra that Bulgaria has encountered so far. This, these groups, VIS, SIC, TIM, etc., are like pallets compared to this organization, which has taken over key places in the state – economically and in the judiciary – to ensure impunity. When this structure falls, you will breathe more freely in Bulgaria. I would like to remind you that from the rostrum of Parliament, Deputy Speaker of Parliament sat Rositsa Kirova, whose brother is Taki’s right hand. Can you imagine the audacity to which the mafia reached through GERB to raise a deputy speaker of parliament?
Dimitar: And a partner of a Kosovo drug kingpin.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s also in your materials.
Atanas: And tomorrow she will sit there again and we will watch her and it is no wonder that she will be promoted again as Deputy Speaker of Parliament. That’s it. In order to win, in order to survive, we must continue to work and be in attack mode, not in a mode to protect and defend ourselves.
Dimitar Stoyanov, do you feel safe in Bulgaria at the moment?
Dimitar: I have not felt safe in Bulgaria since 2013. In general, what we currently have as a judiciary is the result of the symbiosis between Borisov and Peevski. The Prosecutor General serves the interests of two persons: Borisov and Peevski. Whether they are in charge or not, they govern the state through the judiciary. Until the judiciary is reformed and functions according to a European and transparent model – all is lost.
Host: It is claimed, however, that what you are doing is an attempt to attack the judiciary and dismantle legitimately elected people.
Dimitar: Look, this is a Soviet Prosecutor General. This behavior is insane. Calling a journalist part of the OCG because he shone on your corrupt practices is very Soviet behavior. I am amazed that this man allows himself such behavior against the backdrop of what is happening in Russia. It perfectly covers the behavior of Russian prosecutors. He was trained in Russia, apparently there he mastered it.
Щом сте стигнали дотук, вероятно вече си задавате въпроса как се финансира този журналистически проект.
От създаването си BIRD се финансираше от подаяния в нашето журналистическо чекмедже.
Но на чекмеджето му мина времето. Даже прокуратурата затвори онова Чекмедже, знаете кое…
Нашето финансиране влиза в крак с епохата. Фондонабиращата ни кампания вече се казва
Дарявай за BIRD и мятай павета в блатото с корумпирани политици и други тарикати.
Те тайно премятат пари от твоя джоб в своя. Те размятат безнаказано лукса си пред очите на всички. Няма кой да ги накаже ако се надяваш на държавата.
Мятай, за да ги накажеш ти. Да дариш за разследващите журналисти е гаранция, че гадостите, с които силните на деня те замерят, ще им се върнат.
Можеш да метнеш веднъж, за да ти олекне!
Но по-добре е да мяташ редовно всеки месец и да се чувстваш трайно удовлетворен.
А най-добре е да доведеш приятели и да мятаме редовно заедно в екип. С мощен залп!
*За кръстник на новата ни фондонабираща кампания избрахме другарката Ваня. Благодарим й за вдъхновението!
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This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)