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Rumen Radev: Bulgaria’s incoming-outgoing president

Photo: BGNES

Rumen Radev won the runoff presidential election and will continue as President of Bulgaria during the next 5 years. He is the second head of state, after Georgi Parvanov (2002-2012), to have earned the trust of the Bulgarian voters for a second consecutive term of office.

“Wisdom and love of country got the better of apathy and lies,” With these words Rumen Radev addressed the nation after being re-elected President of Bulgaria. “An unprecedented political month has come to a close, a month in which there were two kinds of elections – parliamentary and presidential - which clearly demonstrated the will of our people for change, for breaking with corruption and lawlessness, for ousting the mafia from power.”

In Rumen Radev’s words “Bulgarians passed their test in democracy and did not yield to the attempts at sowing ethnic divisions.”

The newly elected head of state pointed out that there is no room for error or for procrastination for the 47th parliament. “People will not forgive if the parties go against the will of the people,” he added. In his words our society wants to see a distinct political majority that will undertake an immediate reform of the judicial system, that will not allow a social and economic crisis during the winter months, and will make the decisions that have been put off for years. “The fight against the pandemic remains a priority,” the President said further.

“Many and serious efforts lie ahead, but Bulgaria is coming out of the deadlock and autocracy and is on the road to development, freedom and modernization. I am an optimist, the incoming-outgoing President said.

Before the Presidency

58-year old Rumen Radev has graduated from the Georgi Benkovski Bulgarian Air Force University in Dolna Mitropolia, Northern Bulgaria in 1987 as top graduate. Later, he furthered his studies at the Georgi Rakovski Military Academy and at several educational institutions in USA.

As a fighter pilot, Rumen Radev reached the rank of Major General. In the course of several years he was Air Force commander. In the summer of 2016, at his own request, he was discharged from the army. Soon after, the Bulgarian Socialist Party nominated him for President.

As soon as he had taken office on 22 January, 2017, the new head of state had to face his first political firestorm – the resignation of the second Boyko Borissov government, whose party candidate Tsetska Tsacheva lost the presidential election. Rumen Radev appointed a caretaker government, with Prime Minister Prof. Ognyan Gerdzhikov – a university professor and former President of the National Assembly (2001 – 2005). One of its tasks was to shed light on the transgressions of the previous government. However, they were never brought to court. Meanwhile, in his first address to the Members of Parliament, Rumen Radev called for a reform of the judiciary and, provoked by remarks from the ranks of GERB party, turned to them with the words: My credo is - few words, actions that work. You have one more week.

Rumen Radev and Iliana Yotova at their inauguration ceremony in parliament

There followed other key events that marked President Rumen Radev’s first 5-year term of office.

In 2019 Radev returned the proposal for the appointment of Ivan Geshev to the post of Prosecutor General to the Supreme Judicial Council with the motive that there is no alternative candidate, and the choice seems predetermined. The President’s decision coincided with the outbreak of the protests against Ivan Geshev, among other things over his words that he does not agree with the principle of the separation of powers. However, the Supreme Judicial Council re-voted Ivan Geshev’s nomination and Rumen Radev issued the decree appointing him as Prosecutor General of Bulgaria.

Months later, the new prosecutor general sent armed officers from the Witness Protection Bureau, at the time still under his control, to conduct a search of the Presidency, arresting two of the presidential advisors the process. These events proved to be one of the triggers of the 2020 anti-government protests. At the very start of the protests Rumen Radev joined the protesters in front of the Presidency building, and, his fist raised, addressed the crowd with the words that were to become emblematic: Thugs out!

Rumen Radev ended his term of office the way he began it – with the appointment of a caretaker cabinet. Two caretaker cabinets with Prime Minister, presidential security and defence advisor Stefan Yanev, have had to grapple with a series of crises over a period of six months. And once again the stated priority has been to shed light on the wrongdoings of the previous government and to dismantle the model of corruption in the country. Two ministers from the first Stefan Yanev caretaker cabinet, Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev, whose party We Continue the Change won the election for parliament, are set to take up the challenge with the ambitious goal of continuing the change.

Photos: BGNES


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