Bulgaria lurches into political crisis over its murky deep state

Furor over a stretch of Black Sea beach rekindles long-running tensions over role of oligarchs.

Bulgaria’s deepest institutional crisis in several years ignited with a surreal incident on Tuesday when a centrist politician tried to plant the national tricolor on a shingly Black Sea beach, but was wrestled away by security guards.

By Thursday, the complex scandal — which cuts to the heart of who really runs the country — had spiraled to the top echelons of power and the socialist president, Rumen Radev, accused the state prosecutors of being in league with the mafia after they arrested two of his aides.

This week’s saga kicked off on Tuesday when Hristo Ivanov, leader of the anti-corruption Yes Bulgaria party, traveled in a rubber dingy to a Black Sea beach at Rosenets to plant a Bulgarian flag.

“It is up to all of us to throw the mafia out of the executive branch, to throw the mafia out of the prosecutors’ office, which the mafia uses in the most ruthless way as its shield and for political repression,” Radev continued.

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