A new legal farce is taking place in Sofia as former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is suing his erstwhile chum, Nikolay Barekov, over his statement in a TV interview that Boyko was stupid.
Barekov, a former TV presenter who was a staunch and exceptionally outspoken supporter of Borisov while he was in power, unexpectedly turned against him shortly before the 2013 snap election. A few months ago he left the media world altogether and founded a new political entity, called Bulgaria Without Censorship, which some pollsters say may enter the next parliament. At the present time, Barekov is an exceptionally outspoken foe of his former patron.
As a result of the bicker, the Bulgarian court will now have to judge whether Boyko Borisov was indeed stupid, in which case it will make legal history by producing a precedent of measuring the degree of stupidity of a former Bulgarian prime minister – or of anyone for that matter. If it finds Borisov is not stupid, then the court will have to satisfy his 10,000 leva claim and order Barekov to pay up.
It all started in a NOVA TV show moderated by Sasho Dikoff. Barekov fired the first shot by stating that Borisov was the owner of both NOVA TV and the Levski football club. Dikoff, who is employed by NOVA and is also a former sports reporter, said that if Borisov indeed owned the TV channel "he must be the most stupid owner." Barekov went on: "Well, he is plain stupid anyway."
In his capacity as a TV watcher, Borisov felt that Barekov's statement was meant to insult him and denigrate his reputation. So, he sued. In addition to the 10,000 leva, he now seeks a court-imposed "public condemnation" of Barekov.
Neither Barekov, nor Borisov appeared in court at the end of March, but their legal counsellors did. The lawyers for the plaintiff demanded an interrogation of Sasho Dikoff and GERB's press officer, Nikola Nikolov, both of whom waited outside the courtroom. The defendant's team responded that they wanted to see a detailed "video, facial recognition and audio" expert report first.
Dikoff was allowed as a witness, subsequently, and he started by demanding to make a "lyrical deviation." The presiding judge refused, but Dikoff did it anyway. Asked by the lawyers of the plaintiff how he would describe the event if he were to write an article about it, Dikoff said he was not a writer.
GERB's press officer, Nikolov, added to the feeling of slapstick courtroom comedy by saying his boss was angry on the Saturday of the broadcast. But by Monday, he added, he was already very angry. "He even tossed his jacked. In our party we know that if he tosses his jacket, he must be very angry." Nikolov remembered Borisov as saying "How can this man say I am stupid, provided I have been chief secretary of the Interior Ministry, mayor, and prime minister!"
Towards the end of the court session Barekov's counsellors requested the court to order Borisov to produce a definition of stupidity. In Bulgarian, the word tap may also mean blunt, deaf, muted, desperate and, in audio recordings, lacking treble.