We have finally learned about the activities of Ahmed Dogan, the almighty and long-standing leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party, during all the years he failed to appear in Parliament. Dogan’s party subordinates had repeatedly told us that he was not attending to his daily duties as an MP because there were other ways for an MP to contribute to the public’s wellbeing. Hence Dogan was never in Parliament. The remuneration for attending to this "wellbeing" must have been very high because he clearly had no problem paying fines imposed by Parliament on absent MPs.
Now, however, we finally know about the exploits of Dogan, the philosophy graduate. He had been reading chemistry and physics textbooks, he had consulted scientists on energy issues, he even had his own laboratory at home and, yes, let’s not forget that tiny detail that he had been receiving millions of leva as a consultant on energy projects developed with public funds. And maybe we should not forget that he had been getting these fees while his party, the MRF, was serving its second consecutive term as one of the ruling coalition parties (2001/09).
All this was confirmed by Kamen Kostadinov, the MRF’s spokesperson, despatched by Dogan to tell the media that Dogan, besides being a politician, was a scientific mastermind, a visionary worth every single lev of the 1.5 million leva he got from a private company on a project supported by public funds.
Kostadinov’s thesis in defending his leader after Trud daily broke the story was simple - yes, Dogan did get the 1.5 million leva consultancy fee on a contract signed in 2008 when the MRF had three cabinet ministers. The money, however, did not emanate from the Budget but from a private company that had hired Dogan for his expertise in hydro power projects and alternative energy sources. You see, there was no public money involved, hence no conflict of interest given that Dogan was, and still is, an MP.
It was a good try by Kostadinov but not good enough because, as Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov correctly later noted, how do you define a project funded by the state-owned power grid operator? A private one or a public one? Kostadinov did not answer this question, just as he could not explain how this private company, which paid Dogan 1.5 million leva, obtained its money. Equally, he failed to tell us the correct way of describing a private company paying a politician - a leader of one of the ruling parties who had reinvented himself as an energy expert - a consultancy fee with money coming from a state company on a project funded with public resources.