Bulgarian MP arrested for corruption on eve of EU report
(SOFIA) - A Bulgarian MP has been arrested for alleged corruption, prosecutors said Wednesday ahead of a reportedly damning EU report highlighting the country's lack of progress fighting graft and organised crime.
Dimitar Avramov from the ruling right-wing GERB party was arrested late Tuesday "for having demanded and received a 50,000-leva (25,000-euro, $30,700) bribe," prosecution spokeswoman Stelyana Kozhuharova said.
The bribe was in exchange for 34-year-old Avramov's pledge to influence a regional farming agency official on issues concerning EU subsidies for agricultural land, the spokeswoman said.
Avramov, a member of the parliamentary committee on agriculture, was expected to be stripped of his immunity as parliamentarian on Wednesday, while the GERB party has asked him to tender his resignation.
The arrest came on the eve of of a key European Commission report due Wednesday assessing Bulgaria's progress in fighting organised crime and corruption and reforming its judiciary five years after joining the EU.
Kozhuharova however denied any link between the report and Avramov's arrest.
Bulgarian media reported Tuesday that Brussels' report would be the sternest issued so far under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on Bulgaria.
Organised crime remains powerful, with few sentences in high-profile cases and serious concerns about political meddling with the independence of the judiciary, media cited excerpts of the report as saying.
The EU executive was also expected to delivers a harsh verdict on Romania's respect for democratic values and threatens tighter policing to ensure respect for the rule of law, according to a draft seen by AFP on Tuesday.
The Commission and Prime Minister Victor Ponta have been at loggerheads over the centre-left government's bid to impeach conservative President Traian Basescu and its changes by decree to the powers of the constitutional court.
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