Bulgarian Parliament extends deadline for probe into alleged graft in issuing citizenship

Bulgaria’s National Assembly agreed on March 27 to extend by three months the deadline for an ad hoc committee investigating allegations in European and Bulgarian media about corruption in granting citizenship to foreigners.

The committee was set up by a December 14 decision following the arrest in October of State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad head Petar Haralampiev and others in connection with alleged bribery and falsification of documents to enable nationals of nearby countries to apply for Bulgarian passports.

The December vote to set up the committee had all-party support. It was given a three-month term of office.

It has 17 members, appointed on a proportional basis from the Bulgarian Parliament’s current five parliamentary groups.

It is headed by Yordan Tsonev of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, whose party proposed the establishment of the committee, with Toma Bikov – an MP for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party – as deputy chairperson.

In an explanatory memorandum requesting the extension of the deadline, Tsonev told Parliament that the committee was dealing with a large amount of information and research, as well as questioning of institutions and relevant bodies.