© Screenshot from “Radio Varna” video
The Mayor of Varna, Ivan Portnih, at the opening of today’s briefing. To his left – the acting chief architect Stoyan Petkov.
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Exactly thirty minutes before the first presentation of Blagomir Kotsev as a candidate for mayor of Varna from “We continue the change – Democratic Bulgaria” scheduled for 10 a.m. today, the current mayor of the city Ivan Portnih, nominated by GERB for a new mandate, called an urgent briefing. He attacked him, both Kotsev and another candidate to take his place – Hristo Dimitrov, nominated by the newly formed “Citizens’ Alternative” platform. However, Portnich did not say a word about “Vazrazhdane” candidate Kosta Stoyanov or any of his competitors in the upcoming campaign.
To begin his briefing, Portnich chose the news that he had sent
three reports to the prosecutor’s office
related to the activities of its former chief architect Viktor Buzev, whom he removed from his position in the middle of the summer. All signals were related to irregularities in the approval of investment projects for the construction of high-rise buildings in Varna. According to Ivan Portnih, this happened without his knowledge, eventually leading to the reconstruction of Varna, for which he will obviously claim in his campaign that he is not at fault despite his ten-year rule.
Portnih personally selected and appointed Viktor Buzev as the chief architect of Varna back in 2013, when he was elected to complete the term of his predecessor Kiril Yordanov, prematurely terminated due to resignation. In the following ten years, the mayor of Varna never once mentioned that he was dissatisfied with Buzev’s work until the middle of this summer, when he suddenly asked for his resignation “due to a lack of vision” for the development of Varna. At his briefing today, however, he linked Buzev both to the “list of oligarchs and millionaires” (“Citizens’ Alternative”), and to the candidate of “We continue the change – Democratic Bulgaria” Blagomir Kotsev. The briefing ended just a few minutes before the start of the other one, in which Kotsev presented the priorities of his mayoral candidate program.
The last report submitted to the prosecutor’s office by Portnih was about the construction of a new eight-story building in the prestigious Varna district “Chaika. He specified that the project did not comply with all the legal requirements for distance from the surrounding buildings.
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The acting chief architect of Varna, Stoyan Petkov, told the site that an eight-story building was planned to be erected, but the distances to the neighbors were not respected. According to him, there was in the project
and other disturbing things
which hinted at “circumventing the rules”.
The project was approved on June 1 of this year, after the release of the former chief architect of Varna, Viktor Buzev. Petkov complained that he was now faced with a fait accompli, because after an approved investment project, he was obliged to issue a building permit within seven days. However, he returned the file to remove the administrative gaps in it before issuing a permit. At the moment, according to Petkov, the distance of the designed building was only three meters from the border of the property where it was to be built.
“In the period after the removal of the former chief architect Viktor Buzev, someone was in a great hurry to get this project through and made the temporary replacement of the former chief architect Lidia Tsekova sign off, said Mayor Portnich. This someone was obviously so influential that he could get Tsekova to sign something in which there are many gaps of a legal nature”.
It is said that, there are doubts that
this project is associated with representatives from the “business list of millionaires”, known as “Alternative for citizens” – this list of redevelopers dissatisfied with the removal of Viktor Buzev, said Portnych. I am referring to the leader of the list, Hristo Dimitrov (one of the major construction contractors in Bulgaria, author’s note). Rumor has it that he has a building commitment there. This, of course, will probably be established after we file the report and in the course of the survey,” said the GERB candidate for a new mandate as mayor of Varna.
© Screenshot from a video of “Radio Varna”
The Mayor of Varna, Ivan Portnih, recently presented the visualizations of construction projects that he showed during his briefing today.
Portnich then showed a colorful rendering of a 17-story apartment building, which he said was the project of one of the representatives on the “millionaires’ list” (“Citizens’ Alternative”). In front of the journalists present, he calculated that this is about 20,000 square meters of built-up area, and at a profit of BGN 1,000 per square meter, this would be 20 million euros or 40 million BGN. However, with the relevant investor, the profit would be even more – big, because he sold “more expensive”, said Ivan Portnich.
“Well, why don’t they play elections, he asked rhetorically. They have money and they don’t want this boy (the acting chief architect of Varna Stoyan Petkov) to shout “but wait, how about 17 floors in Chaika?”. They , of course they’re going to want someone who signs and it all goes away.” With these words, Portnich waved in the computer visualization with the words: “40 million BGN is worth this thing in someone’s pocket!”. Finally, he said that it was a project of a company whose owner put his son on the list of “Alternative for Citizens”.
Portnich also showed other visualizations of high-rise projects of the same company, but in another Varna district – “Mladost”. He explained that “Alternative for Citizens” nominated the former incumbent Hristo Hristov as a candidate for regional mayor there, whom he removed precisely because he “favored” reconstruction.
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In all this Portnich saw
“an extremely serious organization”
of the “redevelopers of the city”, who until now were “obviously” OK with the situation, but after he removed Buzev, they suddenly united in “one powerful team” and began to interfere in a very serious way in the local elections.
After that, Ivan Portnih directly attacked his main competitor in the upcoming local elections – the candidate of “We continue the change – Democratic Bulgaria” Blagomir Kotsev. For this purpose, he recalled two cases filed before the Varna Administrative Court, in which Kotsev is an “interested party”.
The first – against permits issued by Viktor Buzev for the use of two state plots of land by Kotsev’s company for the location of a garden bar near the Varenen restaurant “Horizont” and the second – for the movement of cars along a 100-meter alley in the Sea Garden to the parking lot of the restaurant.
Continuing with the colorful visualizations, Ivan Portnich also showed this one on
project for a 40-story skyscraper
to another participant in the “Citizens’ Alternative” list, in which, according to him, apartments were currently being sold without, according to him, “a piece of paper” for the construction.
“These are either scammers who take people’s money without having documents, or they have some other expectations,” Portnich said. And on this occasion, he immediately thought of the “skyscrapers” of another representative from the list of “oligarchs and millionaires”, designed in the Varna quarter “Asparuhovo”. “If you call their office on the phone, they sell, exclaimed the mayor of Varna. They don’t have anything like paper, but they sell”.
Finally, Portnich summarized that his main competitors in the upcoming elections were so far satisfied with Viktor Buzev and the “Buzev region”, but after he was removed they rallied and took a course towards mastering the Municipal Council.
“Dnevnik” sought a reaction from the headquarters of “Alternative of Citizens” today, but they refused to comment. What was said during the briefing was not commented on by Blagomir Kotsev either.