On 25th May 1880 Prince Alexander I signed Decree Nr. 226 confirming the Law on the Structure of the Courts, adopted by the National Assembly. Along with the normative establishment and strengthening the new judiciary in our country after the Liberation, it is for the first time that the prosecutor's and the investigator's institutes were established. This date may be considered the beginning of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office. Its way will run across complex stages of social and economic development of our country and will undergo various political and ideological influences, controversial opinions for its place and role in the society. However, the Prosecutor’s Office will always preserve its unalterable essence - to be keeper of the law and defender of citizens' rights.
The ideas for creating a government body to observe the laws and carry out the prosecution of the state were not alien to the Bulgarian society long before this. In the process of Bulgarian liberation movement conceptions for creating national judicial system independent of executive authority as well for its organization and power were formed under the influence of the bourgeois revolutions of XVIII-XIX c., which eliminated the class division typical for the medieval society, proclaimed the citizens equality and established judicial principles, which remained unchanged even today. In the eve of the Constantinopol conference, the views of Bulgarians were reflected in programs prepared by the representatives of separate political circles in a document, titled "The wishes of Bulgarians" from 16th December 1876 the establishment of a Supreme Judicial Council to propose the head governor to appoint not only judges in all courts, but also to appoint prosecutors was intended for the first time.
During the Russian-Turkish liberation war in the newly liberated territories the need of legal order and reform of the judicial system arose. Prince Vladimir Cherkasskiy was charged with this task. First, the so called "military field courts" were established according to the existing Russian legislation and later to Elder Judicial Councils and District Judicial Councils which had both accusatorial and law-enforcing functions. There were no prosecutors and investigators.
After the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty on 3rd March 1878 between Russia and Turkey, Prince Alexander Mihaylovich Dondukov-Korsakov, newly appointed as a Commissioner General Adjutant by the Russian emperor, received instructions from St. Petersburg "to lay the seeds of a new civil society, based on the spirit of the Christian teaching for love to fellow-man and respect for human rights". These instructions were set in the affirmed by Prince A. M. Dondukov-Korsakov on 24th August 1878 "Interim Rules for the judicial system in Bulgaria”, which created the judicial system, respective civil and criminal procedure in compliance with the national characteristics and close to the democratic forms, established in Europe at that time. According to them the judiciary belonged to "conciliatory", "general" and "special (administrative, clerical and kadi (Muslim judge)" courts. Later, by an Ordinance, the Supreme Court was introduced as an instance of cassation. The status of the prosecutor was not still clearly defined. The preliminary investigation was carried out by one of the members of the court, under the court's supervision.
This organization of the judiciary was in force until the adoption of the first Law on the Structure of the Courts - 25th May 1880, one year after the adoption of the Tarnovo Constitution (1879) proclaiming that "the Judiciary in all respects, belongs to the judicial places and persons, which act in the name of the Prince" and that "the relations between these places and persons are regulated by special ordinances". These were the "ordinances" of the new law, compiled on the model of the Russian statutes from 1864, which charged the minister of justice with the general management of the judicial system. For the first time the status of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigation was set forth. The prosecutors were affiliated with the District, Appellation and the Supreme Court of Cassation, whereby all of them were under the "supreme supervision" of the Minister of Justice and acted as his organs - observers of law and public prosecutors. The judicial investigators were considered members of the District courts. The officials of the judicial institution were appointed by the Prince.
Laying the foundations of the judiciary in the Principality of Bulgaria was carried out independently by the Russian civil administration, in the autonomous area of Eastern Rumelia. This was done according to the Organic Statute, developed by the international commission, in compliance with the Berlin Treaty. The courts were divided into Mayoral, District, Regional and a Supreme Court. At the District court there was a Prosecutor with one or more assistants and at the Supreme Court there was a Prosecutor General with two assistants. The prosecutor’s supervision was on a French model. The Prosecutor General functioned as a state prosecutor in criminal cases, supervised the officers from the judicial police. At that time there were no administrative courts in the Principality of Bulgaria, while in Eastern Rumelia such courts were created, and at the Supreme Court for Administrative Complaints there were two prosecutors, appointed by the Director of Internal Affairs. Despite the more advanced judicial organization set up there, it cannot be considered a part of the history of the Bulgarian Prosecution Service, since Eastern Rumelia even registered in the Bulgarian history was still an autonomous area within the limits of the Ottoman Empire.
Following the Unification, the judicial organization under the Law on the Structure of the Courts from 1880 was introduced in Southern Bulgaria as well. It was in force for 20 years until the coming into effect of the new Law on the Structure of the Courts (12th January 1899). In the latter the Prosecution’s Office carried the name of "Prosecutor's supervision", encompassing both the accusatory and the law-enforcement objective of the prosecutorial action. This model was borrowed from the Russian judicial statutes.
The Prosecutor's supervision was declared independent on the judiciary and was in direct dependence by the Minister of Justice, in his quality of a state prosecutor. In this regard, however, our law differed from its Russian model, proclaiming a “general-prosecutor” as Head of the Prosecutor’s Office with a "general-prosecutor" and following the French law, which subordinated the prosecutors to the Minister of Justice.
The Prosecutor's supervision consisted of prosecutors and their deputy prosecutors. At the Supreme Court of Cassation there was one Prosecutor General and Division Prosecutors. There was one prosecutor with deputy prosecutors at each Appellation and District Court. For the first time a hierarchical subordination of the prosecutors was introduced - the prosecutors at District Courts were subordinate to the prosecutors at the Appellation Courts. Prosecutors at the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Appellation Courts were subordinate directly to the Minister of Justice.
The judges and prosecutors were appointed by a decree of the Tsar.
As "guardians of law" the prosecutors had legal authority in the judicial and administrative sessions of the courts on criminal and civil cases.
Special court investigators were appointed at District Courts for carrying out "preliminary inquiry" for crimes.
In 1910 under the Law for amending the Law on the structure of the Courts a special order for appointing judges and prosecutors of all levels was created, according to the so called "Table for promotion and appointment", containing specific criteria and requirements. With a decision of the Council of Ministers the Head of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Prosecutor General were selected among the Heads of departments, the members and prosecutors of departments at the same court and the Heads of Appellation Courts.
This law introduced only the permanent status of judges and it did not refer to the prosecutors who could be dismissed by a royal decree, on the proposal from the Minister of Justice.
For the first time with the Law on the Construction of the Courts from 12th November 1934 permanent status for the prosecutors was introduced at the Supreme Court of Cassation, and subsequently it referred also to the prosecutors from the Appellation Courts.
The prosecutors were affiliated with the District, Appellation Courts and the Supreme Court of Cassation. The nature of the prosecutor's activity, unlike the French procedural law, was the fact that he was not a side, adversary to the other, but an organ of the law, which acted not only in the interest of the prosecutor, but most significantly with the objective of finding out the truth.
With the Law for the Administrative Justice from 1912 the Supreme Administrative Court, based in Sofia, was instituted. As a court of single instance, it had the authority to consider complaints for cancellation of illegal administrative acts, including complaints against decisions of ministers. The participation of prosecutors was also provided for. The Supreme Administrative Court consisted of a First Chair, Division Chair, Prosecutor General and Division Prosecutor appointed by a decree of the Tsar, on a proposal from the Prime Minister .
The young Bulgarian state intending to impose a democratic form of government and to stress the social importance, authority and the due respect for the judiciary, obliged judges to wear black gowns and prosecutors to wear purple ones. (This tradition was ceased after 9th September 1944 and reinstated again by the Judicial System Act from 1994).
At that time the Prosecutors delineated as active persons in the social and political life of our country. They acted not only as state prosecutors, but also as observers of law, representatives of public interest. Some of them took part in the law making and deserved credit and respect. (Anton T. Teoharov, Vasiliy Tr. Mishaykov, Petar V. Odjakov - authoritative prosecutors at the Supreme Court of Cassation in different periods of time; Dr. Petar I. Danchov - a prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Cassation, Head of the Supreme Court of Cassation and Minister of Justice; Gavril L. Oroshakov - a prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Cassation, Minister of Justice; Todor Iv. Todorov - a prosecutor at Sofia District Court, member of Sofia Court tof Appeals , deputy (member of Parliament), Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, taken part in developing the Commercial Law and the Law for the Penal Judicial Procedure; Dimitar Tonchev - a prosecutor at Plovdiv and Pazardzhik District Courts, promoted to Head of a Criminal Division, a well-known activist, having been appointed repeatedly for Minister of Railroads, Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice, participated in the development of the Obligation and Contract Acts, the Inheritance Act, the Tutelage Act and the Civil Legal Procedure Act; Al. Iv. Dyakovich - a prosecutor at Ruse District Court - taken part in preparing the draft for the Penal Law; Georgi Zgurev - a prosecutor at Ruse District Court and at the Supreme Court of Cassation, a Secretary General, later Minister of Justice, taken part in developing the Law on the Structure of the Courts from 1899, the Law for the Legal Prescription and other; Hristo T. Stoyanov - a prosecutor, First Head of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Minister of Justice, as well as other prosecutors taken part in the consolidation of the Bulgarian state, and the justice system in particular, at that time in our country.)
During the years of tumultuous political and international events until the end of World War II, in the course of developing the capitalist relationships in Bulgaria and realization of government power, the proclaimed fragile independence of the Prosecutor’s Office fell under adverse influences, inflicting irreparable damage both to the Prosecutor’s Office and the society as a whole. The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office was under such influences after 9th September 1944, under the totalitarian state, when a radically new structure and organization of our judicial system was established, analogous of the Soviet Legal System. It was in the first post-war years, when the urge of the new government of the Fatherland's Front to widen the circle of offenders with that of the adversaries was particularly well-pronounced, when the revolutionary passion against the so called "class enemy" ruled over the law. The Prosecutor’s Office had to pass that difficult way as well. In the constitutions of 1947 and 1971, the principle of the separation of power was not reflected.
According to the constitution from 1947 the Prosecutor’s Office had to be built up as an autonomous institution with specific objectives, different from those, which the prosecutor's supervision had had by then. Its main function was to become an organ for enforcing the laws in the country.
The Prosecutor’s Office as a body system for supervising the strict law-enforcement headed by the Prosecutor’s General Office as a specialized leading institution, was created by Decree Nr. 479 from 22nd March 1948 (SG, Vol. 70/1948). It consisted of a Prosecutor General, District and Regional prosecutors. For the accurate and uniform enforcement of the laws, it was built on the principle of monocracy and centralization.
The Prosecutor General reported the Prosecutor's Office activity before the National Assembly. He was in charge of the Regional and District Prosecutors' offices, personally appointed and dismissed all the prosecutors in the country. He had the right of legislative initiative.
With Decree for the Prosecutor’s Office from 1948 it was declared, that the Investigation was under the direction of the prosecutors.
Until 1979 investigators were affiliated to the Prosecutor’s Office, who was assigned more complex cases and cases against juveniles.
The Grand National Assembly adopted a Law for the Prosecutor’s Office (SG, Vol. 92/1948). It regulated in details the organization, authority and other issues, related to the activity of the Prosecutor’s Office. The following departments were established at the Prosecutor’s General Office: Investigative, Judicial, General Supervision, Personnel and Military Prosecutor’s Office. As an independent institution, the Prosecutor’s Office was built up as a unified system of homogeneous bodies, organized on the same principle and pursuing the same goals and objectives.
Organizationally, the Prosecutor’s Office was headed by a Prosecutor General of the People's Republic, assisted by a Deputy prosecutor general and prosecutors. The Prosecutor General was elected by the National Assembly for the term of five years, and when taking office he took an oath before the Presidium of the National Assembly. The rest of the Prosecutors swore before the senior prosecutor, and the investigators before the respective District Prosecutor. According to the law for the Prosecutor’s Office, its activity was independent on other organs of state authority. While carrying out their obligations, prosecutors acted in compliance with the country laws and people's interest. It was pointed out, that in pursuing this objective, the Prosecutor General and his subordinate prosecutors supervised the accurate law-enforcement by all governmental organs, officials and citizens, by all state and social institutions, organizations and enterprises. They undertook prosecution for committed crimes, drew conclusions on criminal cases in the courts, supervised the justness of detention, ordered the execution of sentences and made conclusions on civil cases. They appealed in defence of the state and` public interests and against the administrative acts not complying with the law, etc.
According to a new Law for the Prosecutor’ Office adopted in 1952 (SG, Vol. 92 from 7th November 1952), the Prosecutor's Office was unified and centralized and consisted of a Prosecutor's General Office, District Prosecutors' Offices, City Prosecutors' Offices and Regional Prosecutors' Offices. The Prosecutor's General Office also included the Prosecutor's Office of the People's Army, the Military Prosecutor's Office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor's Office of Transportation.
In 1960 the subsequent Law for the Prosecutors’ Office of the People's Republic of Bulgaria was adopted. It authorized the Prosecutor General right to participate with advisory voice in the sessions of the people's councils, and at the meetings of the executive committees of the people's councils.
The constitution from 1971 marked a new stage in the development of the Prosecutor’s Office. The National Assembly exercised the legislative and executive functions of the state. The Assembly also exercised supreme control with a constitutionally affirmed leading role of the ruling party. Detailed arrangements were provided for the structure, function and authority of the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as for the independence of judges, jurors and prosecutors and their subjection only to the law.
The Law for the Prosecutor’s Office from 1980 (SG, Vol. 87 from 1980) was adopted in compliance with the Constitution from 1971. This law increased the rights of the prosecutors to carry out the functions for ensuring the observance of law by ministries and other institutions, local government authorities, economic and social associations, officials and citizens.
Along with prosecutorial function against criminals, the Prosecutor’s Office took part in the cases, set forth in the law as well as in civil cases, especially in defence of state and public interest; an authority, which was withdrawn with the amendments of the Civil Procedure Code from 1997.
The Prosecutor’s Office developed all-embracing general supervisory activity, facilitated the abatement of law-breaking and the reasons for their arising, performed various preventive activities, including active legal and propaganda activity, which was assisted by the Council for Criminological Investigation at the Prosecutor's General Office (subsequently abolished with the amendment of the Judicial System Act from 2002). During this period the prosecutors took an active part in the country's social life.
The democratic development of the country after 1989 outlined new directions in the development of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office as part of the independent judiciary.
The new Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, adopted by the Grand National Assembly on 12th July 1991 regulated the separation of powers as well as the independence of the judiciary, which included the Prosecutor’s Office.
In the period between 1947 and 2005 the Prosecutor’s Officewas headed by the following Prosecutors General: DIMITAR GEORGIEV ZAPRYANOV (elected by the VI Grand National Assembly on 18th December 1947); JORDAN NEDELCHEV CHOBANOV (elected by the II National Assembly on 9th April 1954); MINCHO DOICHEV MINCHEV (elected by the III National Assembly on 14th March 1959); IVAN GANCHEV VACHKOV (consecutively elected on 25th December 1962 by the IV National Assembly, on 14th December 1967 by the V National Assembly, on 8th July 1971 by the VI National Assembly and on the 16th June 1976 by the VII National Assembly); KOSTADIN NIKOLOV LYUTOV (consecutively elected on 17th June 1981 by the VIII National Assembly and on 16th June 1986 by the IX National Assembly); VASIL ZHELYAZKOV MRUCHKOV (elected on 18th August 1987 by the IX National Assembly); EVTIM HRISTOV STOIMENOV (elected on 14th December 1989 by the IX National Assembly); MARTIN HRISTOV GUNEV (elected on 1st November 1990 by the VII Grand National Assembly); IVAN NIKOLOV TATARCHEV (appointed on a proposal from the Supreme Judicial Council with Decree Nr. 41 of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria from 17th February 1992) and NIKOLA FILCHEV BORISOV (appointed on a proposal from the Supreme Judicial Council with Decree Nr. 43 of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria from 18th February 1999).
In the new conditions of our country's social, economic and political development, the Prosecutor’s Office undertook active measures for completing the objectives for law and order in the state and protection of citizens' rights, for meeting the European requirements for our country's accession to the European Community, led by the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from 6th October 2000 according to which the Prosecutor’s Office played a decisive part within the system of criminal justice, as well as in the international co-operation on criminal matters.
Bulgarian prosecutors perform with dignity their responsible social mission, because to fight against evil is the best one could do for mankind.
The latest stage in the development of the Bulgarian judicial system began on 12th July 1991 with the adoption of the new Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria by the Grand National Assembly, introducing the principle of the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, part of which is the Prosecutor’s Office.
Constitutional guarantees for the independence of the magistrates were introduced, for developing their inner motivation and their allegiance only to the law.
The President of the Republic of Bulgaria appoints and dismisses the Prosecutor General on a proposal from the Supreme Judicial Council.
The main function of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria is to keep the observance of law. The Prosecutor’s Office exercises leadership over the preliminary investigation, brings persons to justice who have committed a crime, supports the charges in criminal cases of general nature, participating in the criminal proceeding as a state accuser, supervises the execution of the penal and other coercive measures, takes action for rescinding illegal decisions, and also, takes part in civil and administrative cases, stipulated by the law.
The structure of the Prosecution’s Office is in accordance with that of the courts. It includes the Prosecutor General, the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation, the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor's Office, five Appellation Prosecutors' Offices, the Military Appellation Prosecutor's Office, 28 District Prosecutors' Offices, including the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, five Military District Prosecutors' Offices and 112 regional Prosecutors' Offices. About 1120 prosecutors work in the country.
The Prosecutor General carries out the observance of law and methodological leadership over the activity of all prosecutors in the country.
The Prosecutor’s Office is a unified and centralized entity. Each prosecutor is subordinate to the respective superior prosecutor, and all of them are subordinate to the Prosecutor General. The superior prosecutor carries out the observance of law, exercises control and methodology leadership. He may rescind decisions of his subordinate prosecutors in the cases provided for by the law.
On 24th September 2003 the National Assembly adopted the first amendments in the Constitution from 1991, in compliance with the requirements for the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union, related to the reform of the judicial system, which limit the magistrates’ immunity from full to functional and the mandate for magistrates was introduced.
The development of the Prosecutor’s Office at this stage was marked by significant social and political events during the period of transition from a totalitarian to a democratic form of government.
On 7th February 1992 Ivan Tatarchev was the first democratically elected Prosecutor General appointed with a Decree of the President on a proposal from the Supreme Judicial Council.
His activity as Head of the Prosecutor’s Office was marked by tumultuous political events from the beginning of the transition period. At that time, the passions of party confrontation were not still settled down and they arouse controversial social attitudes. Demands for seeking responsibility from persons, guilty of the economic collapse and for seeking justice for the innocently sentenced people by the totalitarian regime, were made. The Prosecutor’s Office found its place in defending the law. The society demanded reversing the sentences of the People's Court from 1945, for returning the property, improperly confiscated under the Law for the Confiscation of Property, acquired through speculation or through other illegal means from 1947, as well as for criminal responsibility from the persons participated in the so called "Revival Process".
The Prosecutor’s Office adequately answered this social challenge. The Prosecutor General submitted over 100 offers to the Supreme Court for reversal of unrighteous sentences against persons, politically repressed by the totalitarian regime in the state. A few cases were also initiated against persons, guilty of large-scale economic crimes.
On a proposal from the Supreme Judicial Council, with Decree Nr. 43 from 18th February 1999 of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Nikola Filchev was appointed Prosecutor General. Mr. Filchev is a renowned scholar in the field of criminal justice, a former judge at the Criminal College of the Supreme Court of Cassation and a former Deputy Minister of Justice.
Between 1999 and 2005 intense processes of denationalization and transfer of property in the country were carried out. The administrative-command function of the state was not still replaced by the necessary new system. Besides, the social and legal control was extremely reduced, which led to the build up of high social and political tension. The transformation of the state property into private one in the absence of the required normative base to regulate the process was accompanied by a rapid rise in economic crime. Serious crimes in the financial sphere were perpetrated as well as in the field of privatization.
These developments press the Prosecutor’s Office to cope with the high level of both the traditional, regular crime, and with the emergence of a new type of crime - the organized crime.
A number of indictments for crimes perpetrated have been submitted, including such against persons from the government, who have broken the laws of the country.
With its consistent and unflinching policy against everyone breaking the law, the Prosecutor’s office becomes an obstacle to offenders, who, using their power resources, aim to limit the Prosecution's powers. Despite this, the Prosecution Service does not give up its constitutional duty to be a guardian of the law. Steadfastly and consistently, it carries out the principle of all citizens' equality under the law.
The Prosecutor’s Office carries out its constitutional duties with understanding that the fight against crime may be effective only when the organs of legislative, executive and judicial branches of government exercise their powers fully and accurately, in an environment of the necessary high level of coordination among them.
During that period of time the efforts of the Prosecutor's leadership was focused on the organizational strengthening of the institution, so that it could tackle the manifestations of organized crime, serious economic crime in the financial and banking sphere, crimes, related to privatization, corruption crimes and criminal transgressions against the person and the rights of the citizens.
In 2000 the process of prosecutors' specialization was started in accordance with the requirements for confronting organized crime, terrorism, corruption. In April 2004 this specialization was expanded and the following specialized departments were established at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassation: Crimes against the Person and the Rights of the Citizens, Organized Crime and Terrorism, Economic Crime, Crimes of Officials and Corruption, General Danger and Other Crimes, War Crimes, International Legal Assistance etc. Today, this specialization exists at the District Prosecutors' Offices as well.
The newly introduced principles of leadership and work, aim at raising the public trust at the Prosecutor’s Office, whose activity is to be transparent and efficient. As a part of the independent judiciary, it plays a defining role in the system of criminal justice and acts as a guarantor of the fundamental constitutional rights of the citizens.
In compliance with Recommendation Nr 19, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 6th October 2000 about the decisive role of the Prosecutor’s Office in the system of criminal justice and in the international co-operation on criminal matters, the Prosecutor’s Office develops a wide international activity. Bilateral agreements between the Prosecution of the Republic of Bulgaria and those of Romania, China, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Switzerland have been concluded.
The Prosecutor’s Office is in constant contact and takes part in international initiatives of the European Anti-Fraud Office - OLAF, of the Council Coordinating the Fight against the Infringements Affecting the Financial Interests of the European Communities - AFCOS, the European Police Service - Europol, the Agency for Judicial Cooperation Eurojust (within the EU), the European Judicial Network (within EU), the Legal Initiative for Central Europe and Eurasia ABA/CEELI, the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe - GRECO, the Initiative for Central European Co-operation SECI, the International Association of Prosecutors - IAP, the American Bar Association, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNODC, in the regional project on the problems of trafficking in human beings within the AGIS 2005 Programme of the Directorate for Justice, Freedom, Security of the European Commission, the "Pericles" programme of the European Union for protecting the single currency from counterfeiting and in the Southeast European Public Prosecutors Advisory Group - SEEPAG.
In the process of preparation for our country's accession to the European community, the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office carries out a number of activities for introducing the laws of the EU member countries, as well for coordinating the global efforts for fighting against organized crime, terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings
In the period between 2002 and 2004 two projects between the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice were implemented as part of the EU PHARE Programme for institutional strengthening the Prosecutor’s Office, and training specialized prosecutors for fighting organized crime, economic crime, and corruption.
In 2004-2005 a project was implemented for building up the capacity of the Prosecutor’s Office in counteracting corruption together with the "Transparency without Borders" Association and the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
The Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation of the Republic of Bulgaria has become a part of the international network for cooperation and legal assistance.
Judicial reform is a crucial condition on Bulgaria's road to accession to the European Union.
The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office does everything in its power to facilitate the successful completion of this process.
The Prosecutor’s Office will continue its fight against crime and offences in defence of the society, for the triumph of right and justice - the necessary preconditions for strengthening democracy in Bulgaria.