Pazardjik Prison Vol. 2

Hello, friends!

It’s been a while since I wrote to you last from this hole. I had decided to write again when I got a more positive outlook on things… I have tried to muster some positive feelings about my stay here, but alas…there is always a “but”…

I had just come back from a court hearing for one of my lawsuits against CDES (Chief Directorate “Execution of Sentences”) and the Ministry of Justice when I heard that my opinion about this place had been published on the BPRA web page. Apparently there were also some very interesting photos. The director Vesselin Kotzev summons me to a hearing and starts with his usual dumb question:

‘Do you know why you are here?’

I answer the usual way: ‘I don’t know’, and the game begins…

A game of meaningless words and sentences in the presence of all the social workers, doctors, psychologists and other prison staff. He is feeling good because he is the Director and gets a kick out of humiliating powerless every day. But I’m feeling good too. He asks me what I have to say about the article and the photos to it. I reply that I have written it and that I have described only things that I have personally experienced. Then he blames me of giving the photos to my lawyer Kalin Angelov during one of our meetings and that they were published with his assistance. I try to tell him that was not true and if he thought that there was a violation, he better contacted my lawyer. But instead he just started attacking me. He explained in a threatening tone that I am responsible for everything in the article and I would bear the consequences. His manner became very coarse so I asked him to release me, but he insisted that I should write an official explanation about the article. I responded that nowhere in the law is it stipulated that I have to give any explanations. At the same time I didn’t deny the authorship of the article.

I managed to leave his office in one piece!

I had gone into his office looking smart (as far as that is possible) out of respect for him and his subordinates, but mostly for myself, and he acted like a sulking kid. Mr Kotzev is used to always having his way. This man is used to being in control of everything, and everybody to obey his orders, but I only understood why that is now and why that for him this is normal. If you were appointed a prison director 20 years ago (back in 1999!) and survived at this position through many successive governments and are used to doing what you please with impunity, would you allow a street thug like me to take you to task about the things that you do in your “own prison”? I found out that most of the prison staff comes from his birth village of Ivaylo, which fact we are supposed to take as “normal”. Just don’t think that I’m trying to impose my opinion on you. It is probably all a coincidence also that a great number of the sergeants have risen in rank during his tenure. I heard a very good joke – they say that the sergeants are signed up to work in the prison while they are still in the kindergarten.

After the hearing with the director my social inspector called me and said that director Kotzev wanted me to write an explanation about the article and the photos. I wrote a couple of lines and left. After that incident I became an object of regular and random searches in my cell. Sometimes they happened twice a day and always without a notice and illegally. Nobody here knows the law and observes it. The SGS (Supervision and Guarding Staff) are hopeless here, but this is normal. They act as if they are in their own village working for the village mayor so feel completely comfortable and at ease. But I should reiterate that all this is completely accidental!

Mr Kotsev even mentioned something about court and a lawsuit regarding the article I wrote. Then I realised that he likes to go to court when he breaks the law, only so he can repress those illiterate boys from the minorities. He feels comfortable with those young ignorant boys, but when he is being punished for his own actions, he appeals to court and is happy when he wins. When somebody like me writes about his actions or inactions he gets grumpy like a little boy, but when HE complains about something it is all right.

I have filed an official complaint to the Minister of Justice, to the chief director of CDES, to the Ombudsman of the Republic and…to you Mr Kotzev. If it turns out that all these illegal actions and inactions have happened without your knowledge and behind your back and you do your job to punish the guilty persons, I will apologise to you publicly and in writing since I am not allowed to speak to the media. This is because your seniors from CDES and the Ministry made sure to ban all interviews with the media after the escape of Pelov and Kolev. Just as well that they did that because a lot more interesting things would have come to light. More people might start to talk, another photo might appear in some media and I will be summoned to a hearing yet again.

Speaking about photos, it came to my knowledge that even before I brought it to the public attention, there have been other photos and videos from your prison before. So when this article comes out, if another photo from the prison appears again, please spare me all the dumb questions and instead get in touch with the lawyer of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Association – Kalin Angelov from the Sofia College of Barristers. I also call to all the mothers of prisoners, who are probably under the false impression that their children are doing well, to also contact Mr Angelov. They are lying to you that they are working for your children’s rehabilitation. There is nothing normal in this prison. Here your children will be sexually harassed, taught how to take drugs or sell drugs, how to lie and steal. They could be taken ill with something or be electrified by a broken cable, but there is nobody to work with them to rehabilitate. The “material” is bad.

Mr Kotzev, I expected to meet a man of great experience, who has overcome his ego and is aspiring to achieve something good. Instead I am faced with a senior member of the security services who has got nothing to overcome. The first time I saw you in the office in the presence of the people from the security services (who have dropped by to pretend they are my friends) I could see through you – I’m not an idiot. I always believe in the ultimate good in people.

I was willing to believe in the good intentions of these particular “visitors”, but they also did not fail to disappoint me. Don’t forget Mr Kotzev to let these same gentlemen know that this is the right moment for all of you to repress me. Now I am vulnerable and in a place where it is easy to beat me to death. You just need to convince the gentlemen that it is all my fault and all the searches are because of me. Now is the time to punish me, because I will be leaving this place soon. Or maybe you should ask them, because their visits were supposed to be a secret. You know best how to play your role!

I am not going to teach you old tricks…By the way, does anybody know that you were selling tomatoes illegally in the prison shop last summer? And please don’t come up with the usual answer that you have done something good for the prisoners! When it is something bad, you say that the shop is run by the Prison Work Fund (the state company responsible for all business involving prisons) and it is not your jurisdiction. But when it is in your favour – you trade with tomatoes.

I apologise for bringing down the level of this conversation, but you are a man of more experience and I gave you the advantage of the first move!

I had decided to dedicate a whole chapter of the book on my stay in Pazardjik prison, but Mrs Stoycheva really brought the level down. I apologise that I am leaving the lady for last and not first, but I was afraid people might be put off by too much bullshit at the beginning and not have the patience to read to the end. But they need to find out who they are paying salaries with their tax money. They call this a “feeding trough”. I am trying to be respectful to the lady – after all she is the age of my parents. She really crossed the line though. She continues to accommodate smokers in the dormitory which she specifically set up for non-smokers and she does not even bother to warn them that it is a non-smoking dormitory. She just put up a guy who specifically told her that he was a smoker and couldn’t go without smoking in the evening, but she did not do anything about it. I spoke with her and asked her politely to move me to a different dormitory where I get along with the guys and we can live peacefully, but she refused and warned me that there would be repercussions because of the things that I wrote. She went into a state and raised her voice – she did not conceal the fact that she was very angry about my previous article. I, on my part, do not conceal also that I am not happy with the way she performs her duties. She sets an “example” here. I wonder if that is how she raises her children and grandchildren – by telling them how good it is to go to sleep and wake up shrouded in cigarette smoke! That maybe it is good for one’s health to smoke where you sleep. That it is also quite cool when you wash up your clothes and linen and hang them in the cell to have about ten guys smoking like chimneys.

Mrs Stoycheva obviously achieves her goals. For her it is important that the prisoners are constantly bickering in a dormitory, there are constant tensions which also transfer onto our families and they are the ones paying Mrs Stoycheva’s salary. She needs the drama in order to feel important. With this I will finish my account about this lady as I am beginning to feel uncomfortable.

Here is the place to emphasise that I do not know anyone from the administration personally and I have not had the chance to get to know them. I am sure that as people they are all exemplary and deserve respect and so I apologise if they felt offended. I am sorry. Still I would say that you don’t have a good team and you know that better than myself. I still apologise.

Recently I won my court case against my transfer here, so I am going back to Sofia Central Prison. Unless they have come up with a different move for me over the holidays, but….Like I said there is always a “but”. What awaits for me in Sofia? The other “big family”. Another absurd in our “republic”. I will take this opportunity to thank judge Shoteva for her professionalism and fairness. Thank you, madam!

I would like to wish everyone mentioned above and everyone who is reading this to believe in the goodness in the world and that everything is in our own hands at the end of the day. I am grateful for this lesson that fate brought to me, and I wish to thank CDNP (Chief Directorate National Police) and CDES and everyone who made this possible. That was a very good lesson that ends at the end of this year. I am looking forward to the end of the holidays and the New Year that will bring m new lessons from the old teachers.

I am full with positive feelings and faith. And I am not being ironic – I can only survive thanks to people like you, because I’m that sort of individual who cannot live without adrenalin, so you really keep me alive and kicking. You help me do good and keep the adrenalin high.

IF ANYONE FEELS IRONISED OR OFFENDED BY THE THIS TEXT, THEY ARE NOT A PERSON THAT FITS IN OUR GROUP. WE ARE KIDS AND THERE IS NO PLACE FOR ADULTS HERE, AT LEAST NOT WITH THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE! I would like to thank the people who are always by my side through thick and thin. You get to really know people only in the toughest times!


Stanislav Angelov Metodiev, BPRA

P.S. Special thanks to Mr Vesselin Kotzev, Director of Pazardjik prison, for his personal visit to my cell. For the first time during a cell search a prison director honours me with a personal visit. I did feel honoured, Mr Kotzev. I know that was probably by chance, but I would like to feel important. I would like to suggest to you, despite everything, to try and keep the good feeling between us and to show that we are men of honour. You are the man with the white beard and the sack. You give out the presents!