(DF) Pressure on Voters Reported in Smolyan Region

June 23 (BTA) – Interior Minister Boiko Rashkov told journalists in the Council of Ministers building on Wednesday that the Governor of the southern Smolyan Region, Stefan Sabrutev, alerted the cabinet earlier in the day that voters in some settlements in the region have come under strong pressure ahead of the July 11 early parliamentary elections. The pressure is being exerted in various ways and on various occasions – for example, when a voter wants to buy firewood from the local forestry company or to use some other public service, Rashkov explained. He described it as “an outrageous practice.” Regional government officials from Smolyan and Burgas joined the cabinet’s weekly meeting to report on the preparations for the elections. Noting the Interior Ministry’s key role in ensuring that the elections are fair, Rashkov said: “The most difficult task is to prevent the buying of votes.” He added that the authorities have identified many people who have begun to organize vote buying. “Measures will be taken against these people at the right moment,” he said, declining to give any names. Discussing the purchase of more voting machines for the elections, Rashkov said the cabinet has decided to buy 1,637 machines in addition to the 9,600 already available. The money for the purchase will be remitted to the Information Services Company via the Central Election Commission and should then reach the supplier. The machines will be transported from the Netherlands and will arrive in Bulgaria by the weekend. The government is considering using mechanisms of international cooperation to speed up the delivery. The machines will be stored in the same place as those from the April 4 parliamentary elections. NV/VE //