What is “GPgate” and Why Were Journalists From Romania and Bulgaria Detained?

The “Bivol” site has investigated a case and eventually received non-public documentation for dozens of projects totaling hundreds of millions of BGN. Bulgarian and Romanian journalists were detained while working on an investigation related to the burning of these documents.

The site talks about the hidden accounts of a network of consultancy companies linked to large construction companies. "The revelations involve projects under the Regional Development Program (RDP), the Operational Programs and the Energy Efficiency Program", is written in Bivol's article regarding the investigation process, with the name of the affair coming from one of the companies that the site quotes – “GP Group”.

According to them, there are fraudulent bills created in parallel with the legitimate ones with which the companies have made claims for more expenses from materials and labour than were used in reality, with the companies receiving the full amount. 

According to the figures available to the media, from November 2013 to February 2015, the consultancy revenues of the group of five companies amount to BGN 7,212,448, and commission fees paid reached BGN 4,027,280. One of the companies is engaged in the development of a national program for conservation, sustainable use and restoration of soil and another - to create an assessment of pressure and impact on surface and groundwater from climate change and assessment of the availability of water for economic sectors, with working projects in a number of cities in the country.

"In this publication, Bivol only slightly opens the window to the secret bunker of all-powerful corruption, which has heavily infected all spheres and levels of power in Bulgaria," the organization said.

This investigation is part of the IJ4EU funded project “Exposing fraud in EU-funded projects in Romania and Bulgaria” by Bivol and Rise Romania

One Bulgarian media organization, Uspelite.bg, quickly reflected the case and commented that the Interior Ministry did not provide any information on arrest and detention, thus indirectly demonstrating a refusal to cooperate, and all this was attempted to undermine the freedom of speech which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. They ask logical questions that we will quote directly:

  1. Why were journalists prevented from doing their job?
  2. Under what order of law are the two journalists arrested?
  3. Why have not the judiciary authorities been notified immediately?
  4. Why did they not have lawyer protection from the moment of detention or at least the right to make a phone call?
  5. Why, in general, law enforcement agencies neglect all the rights of journalists guaranteed by the Law and the Constitution?

Petya Petrova

Petya Petrova is a journalist, believer, and traveler.

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