Home » today » Entertainment » Scandal: The “Red House” is drowning in money, but does not want to pay rent for state property – 2024-03-03 02:15:24

Scandal: The “Red House” is drowning in money, but does not want to pay rent for state property – 2024-03-03 02:15:24

/ world today news/ In recent weeks, a well-known group of intellectuals and activists, who for years have openly gravitated towards some of the parties in today’s government, made a fuss about one of their initiatives – the “Red House for Culture and Debate”, implemented by the Gulliver Foundation clearing house”.

With their inherent high-spirited vocabulary, they launched into the public space dramatic rebuke to the state, which, according to them, was ruining “the only independent cultural space”. What is happening? Another management disgrace, bureaucratic incompetence or a malicious attack? No! The truth turns out to be different. It’s just that the owners of the “Red House” don’t want to pay rent to the state. And they even pathetically call the legal request of the Ministry of Culture “Shame on this Ministry”. They, unlike all other cultural organizations, did not have to pay even a minimum rent to the state. Maybe because they don’t have money? No, they have quite a few. But they are collecting a petition in which they claim that even “a quick peek through the lock of the Red House reveals the bright territory of a democratic system where the language of tolerance is spoken.”

It is through this “lock” that the investigation of Hashtag-BG. Because we find that the general Bulgarian public and the people who have their reasons to like, participate and approve the cultural events, initiatives and civil discussions whose arena is the “Red House” have the right to know what is behind the scenes of its management and whether the claims that the state ruined it have some reason.

What is the story

On July 21, 2000, the Gulliver Clearing House Foundation entered into a contract with the Ministry of Culture and the National Art Gallery without a public auction or competition. The subject of the contract is the gratuitous use for a period of 10 years of the building at 15 Lyuben Karavelov St. in return for repairs and its transformation into the “Red House” Center for Culture and Debate. According to “Gulliver Clearing House”, the renovation of the building, in which funds from the “Beautiful Bulgaria” program and private donations were also used, amounted to BGN 746 thousand. At the expiration of the 10-year term of the contract, the legislation is already different – the National Assembly has adopted anti-corruption changes that do not allow properties that are public state property to be rented out free of charge and without an auction or competition. Such an auction was held in 2012 at the office “Borisov-1” and again at the same government, on January 17, 2013, for temporary and remunerative use until 2018 of the property in question. Thus, the “Gulliver Clearing House” Foundation receives a public state-owned property with a total area of ​​966 square meters or approximately one decre of built-up area in the ideal center of Sofia for a monthly rent of… BGN 5.75 per square meter. Exactly BGN 5,553.24 per month, or BGN 66,638 and 88 cents per year. A year later, with the “Borisov 2” cabinet, which came to power and with the help of the circles to which the management of “Gulliver Clearing House” belongs, a claim is made to the state that a decision was found not to pay the rent, since the tenants did not have the financial means.

#WHO is the Gulliver Clearing House Foundation (“The Red House”)

The foundation was created and managed by the well-known circle of thirty people cloned in more than 20 non-governmental organizations. An NGO circle that for more than a decade has been receiving multimillion-dollar funding from donors connected to the American government (“America for Bulgaria”, Balkan Trust for Democracy) and George Soros (“Open Society”, Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe “). These organizations are today in the role of pro-government NGOs, because they openly support the new government, and some have even broadcast their personnel in the government. The founders of “Gulliver Clearing House” are Desislava Gavrilova and Tsvetelina Yosifova. The former is the chairman of the Council of Founders of the foundation, and the second – the director. Both are long-term employees and lead programs in the structures of George Soros – the Soros Arts Center. Gavrilova is the wife of the little-known political scientist Ivan Krastev, who is one of the architects of the NGO ring in question. Chairman of The advisory board of “Gulliver Clearing House” is Yonko Grozev, who works at the Center for Liberal Strategies of Ivan Krastev, where he was “transferred” from two other NGOs of the same circle, in which he previously worked – Program “Access to Information” and Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. Julian Popov – a writer, blogger and former eco-minister appointed by President Plevneliev – also participates in the council. He is the brother of another important figure for the NGO circle – Stefan Popov, who for a long time was the director of the “Open Society” foundation, and now heads the “Risk Monitor” organization created with its money. All of them openly demonstrate their political bias towards the current administration.

What is the political context

In 2000, the mandate of the UDS and Ivan Kostov government was in its final phase. Stuck in corrupt privatization, this administration would be swept away by popular vote a year later. The ideologues, apologists and advocates of this administration are the group of political scientists and their think-tanks directly connected to the UDS (which today has practically been transformed into the Reform Bloc), among which Ivan Krastev (son of the long-time head of the department in the Central Committee of the BKP) has a leading role Ioto Krastev). Apparently, using their political connections (ours are in power), a group of experts and activists from Ivan Krastev’s circle, led by Desislava Gavrilova, as it became clear above, concluded the mouth-watering contract on July 21, 2000. At that time, the property is in a deplorable condition, which is apparently one of the reasons to rent it free of charge for 10 years against an obligation to repair. The problem at this stage is not so much gratuity as opacity. Without an auction, without a competition, a recently created private foundation is privileged, at the expense of a number of established cultural institutions and centers, which also need state premises for their activities, but do not have political patronage. The tender was held in 2012, and the contract was concluded at the beginning of January 2013, under the government of GERB, supported by RB (the former ODS). Now, once again, such a political configuration is in power, towards which the NGO circle in question openly gravitates, as it has always done before. State intervention is sought again in favor of the foundation – this time with a request for direct violation of the law and damage to the budget and public interest – not to pay rent for the “Red House”.

Is Gulliver’s Clearing House really a poor organization that can’t pay its rent

Dozens of independent small and large civic organizations are fighting for survival every day. When they manage to maintain an office for the needs of their activity, they usually pay at free market prices. The state practically does not support the non-governmental sector. However, this is not the case with the organizations from the NGO circle in question, which receives multimillion-dollar funding annually from the “America for Bulgaria” foundation, Soros and other donors. To talk about the “Red House” in particular as a financial shortage is, to put it mildly, untrue.

According to the financial reports for the last three years, the “Gulliver Clearing House” foundation uses an enviable amount and sustainability of grant funding:

– 2011 – total budget BGN 348,886, incl. BGN 197,000 from “America for Bulgaria”, BGN 43,317 from the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (Soros), BGN 35,829 from banker Tsvetelina Borislavova’s foundation “Komunitas”, BGN 24,575 from the American donor structure German Marshall Fund, etc.

– 2012 – total budget BGN 520,000, incl. BGN 277,000 from the Open Society Institute-New York, BGN 194,000 from America for Bulgaria, BGN 39,000 from the Komunitas Foundation of Tsvetelina Borislavova and others.

– 2013 – BGN 552,700, incl. BGN 287,000 from “America for Bulgaria”, BGN 184,000 from the Open Society Institute-New York, 39,000 from the Komunitas Foundation of Tsvetelina Borislavova and BGN 36,000 from the Balkan Trust for Democracy, which operates with funds of the US government.

To all this must be added the income from the rental of halls and equipment, which is offered by the “Red House” and from the cafe-restaurant, which the tenants have set up in part of the property.

It is significant that only in the first 6 months of the current year 2014, “Red House” received BGN 167,150 from “America for Bulgaria” for institutional strengthening – i.e. to meet its administrative and organizational needs. What is the payment of rent for the business premises for example. However, look at what these large funds were provided for (probably because they were requested!) – so that the “Red House” can “rediscover” itself, and for this purpose it will “reevaluate the programs it works on and analyze the social context in which they implements to develop and adopt its new strategy…” In other words, it will reflect for itself and plan its activities for… a budget that is almost 20 percent of the annual budget of the National Astronomical Observatory in Rojen, which carries out important scientific research of global importance. Obviously, it is about money that went into the pockets of the management of the “Red House” and related persons in the form of fees, work meetings, etc. Those familiar with the financing of the non-governmental sector know that in a budget there are always between 7 and 12 percent for administrative needs, incl. office rent, etc. And the direct costs of a given project include all the funds necessary for the specific activity, such as room rentals, publications, speakers, moderators, technical support, etc. That is, in all these nearly half a million per year, which the “Red House” has at its disposal, should there are enough feathers with which to pay the rent of the state property at 15 Lyuben Karavelov Street.

What is the problem

The problem is in double standards, political patronage, privileges and the attempt to present a private interest as public, which should be supported by the state in violation of the current regulations. Despite their solid financial income, in their “appeal” Gullivers allow themselves to reproach the state that: “There are also few donor organizations that would consider it right to cover such an expense, thus indirectly financing the Ministry of Culture”. Do you understand?! They, a private foundation, did not have to pay rent to the state, because their donors thought they were indirectly financing the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture! Well, considering that, they should find a private house that they can finance directly. As if it is right, that the cultural department should be drained by a private organization under conditions that are not provided to other organizations.

Naturally, the question arises why exactly this private foundation should be supported by the state?! After all, we are talking about liberal values ​​and the rule of law, which dictate equal treatment, common criteria and equal access. Why are state properties not provided at minimum prices to many other cultural organizations that have been waiting for years, but precisely to the “Red House”? By what exact criteria are they selected and by virtue of which legal act should they be privileged at the expense of the state budget? And where did the Gullivers define almost as a goal of the Bulgarian cultural policy that they should not pay rent and thus be financed indirectly by the state? For now, at least, the impression is being made that an attempt is being made, speculating on public ignorance about the status of Andrey Nikolov’s house and the real financial condition of “Gulliver Clearing House”, to use the moment when “ours are in power” in private interest. Ah, bai Gagno, you are immortal!

Hashtag-BG assures its readership that it will continue to monitor this case and if the Ministry of Culture succumbs to the pressure of “Gulliver Clearing House” to grant completely unjustified privileges and reliefs in the use of the state property at 15 Lyuben Karavelov Street, it will referred to the prosecutor’s office for bankruptcy, corruption and abuse of power. Moreover, the relatives of the famous Bulgarian sculptor donated the house to the state so that it would be available to the public, and not to be given to a private foundation that does not even want to pay the minimum rent due to the state.

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