The Economist: Is the corruption drive turning Bulgaria into a 'police state'?

The Economist: Is the corruption drive turning Bulgaria into a 'police state'?

An article in The Economist paints a largely flattering picture of Bulgaria under Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, concluding that "the culture of impunity that once plagued Bulgaria has largely gone", although the same piece says that "hardline" Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov seems to be reaping most kudos for the turnaround and ponders whether Bulgaria may be turning into a kind of "police state".The article says that former prime minister Sergey Stanishev faces two investigations involving the loss of secret documents and also notes the arrest of former defence minister Nikolay Tsonev.The Economist, however, puts a slight dampener on the anti-corruption drive, quoting Ivan Krastev, director of Sofia's Centre for Liberal Strategies, as saying that "before, the administration did nothing without a bribe; now they simply do nothing".The article wonders whether Bulgarian authorities may be enjoying power of a different kind, one that actually gives them too much leeway. "Law-enforcement agencies now screen anybody who runs for high public office. That ought to help reserve power for the clean-handed. But in practice it could give spooks and security-service apparatchiks free rein."The article also notes that "high-profile arrests are one thing: actually convicting a wrongdoer in a timely and transparent fashion quite another".Slow court procedures are also noted. "When they are blamed for this, the judges respond that police evidence-gathering is sloppy. But when it transpired that a well-connected lobbyist had been able, in effect, to appoint senior judges, few of those named had to resign and no investigation ensued," notes The Economist."Moreover, little of this gets the public scrutiny it deserves. Most big media outlets have murky ownership, leaving their journalists vulnerable to outside pressure and influence-peddling. The television news may look like the trailer for a gangster movie. But justice and showbiz are different," concludes the magazine.

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