(DF) Prosecutors, Police Report Operations against Vote Buying in Several Cities

July 4 (BTA) – The Interior Ministry and the prosecution service announced separately actions they have taken against vote buying at the end of the week. The prosecution service said that one suspected vote dealer was arrested in the Northern town of Etropole and witnesses were questioned before a judge. He was charged with shopping for votes through a scheme involving party agents. Based on the Etropole case, the going “price” of a vote in the region is 50 leva. A day earlier, a police operation took place against vote buying in the capital Sofia and the second largest city of Plovdiv, bTV and other media outlets reported. Three persons were reported arrested and released after the expiration of the 24-hour remand. According to the deputy regional prosecutor in Plovdiv, Atanas Iliev, the operation in Plovdiv’s largest Roma neighbourhood, Stolipinovo, was against people involved in vote buying for the April 4 general elections. It transpired from his words that the Interior Ministry has been instructed by the prosecution service not to make public any information on the case. In Plovdiv, the police raided the offices of a window frames company and found there notebooks with personal information about over 2,000 people. The owner of the company was arrested and released shortly after that. In Sofia, police identified a vote dealer and opened pre-trial proceedings. In none of the cases the authorities say for what parties votes were being traded. In a Darik Radio interview Sunday, Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov said it would be right to name them after the elections. He also said that a huge volume of evidence has been collected for vote buying. He highlighted the existing tension between the Interior Ministry and the prosecution service: he said that the law-enforcers had expected support from the prosecution service but what they receive is obstruction to their efforts, especially when it comes to vote trade for one specific party. Again, he would not name it. He also said that the Interior Ministry does not inform the prosecution service in advance of operations they plan “because surprise largely guarantees the success of these operations”. Rashkov told Darik Radio that the specialized operation against vote buying will continue until the day of snap general elections in Bulgaria, July 11. LN/