Maxim Behar in the program "Your Day" on NOVA NEWS TV on the words of former Culture Minister Vejdi RashidovSeptember, 2023
Host: A scandal rocked the parliament yesterday and the occasion for it was a remark by Vejdi Rashidov, caught by microphones on the rostrum in the hall, amid debates on the amendments to the law on protection from domestic violence. The parliamentary group of “GERB-SDS” called on Rashidov to resign from two of his posts on the committee on culture and media and the executive committee of the GERB party, which he did shortly afterward. Let's see the summary of the news and enter the conversation here. PR experts Maxim Behar and Pepi Dimitrova are with us in the studio today and are following the political developments in the country closely. Unfortunately, we're talking about a very serious and unpleasant topic for everyone: legislative changes that were sparked by the abuse of 18-year-old Deborah. From there, the public took to the streets, and it came down to the work of MPs in the Domestic Violence Act. However, the discussion came out, and supposedly the microphones were turned off, but not exactly, and Vejdi Rashidov provoked public discontent again with these remarks. What is your initial comment and what you said yesterday?
Maxim: Well, why first-signal? This is a very good illustration of what I've been saying for many years, that you can build an image for 20 years and have it crash in just 20 seconds. And it's happened in the last few weeks now with several public figures that I just can't figure out what's going on in their heads and why they're doing it, how they're doing it, and how it's even possible for a person to have that thought. Be it an MP, a chairman of a committee, or a former minister. I have no words, I have no first reaction, I have such a reaction that it is not possible for public figures to be tolerated. He can go and do whatever he wants, be it painting, creating, singing, competing, and being the best sportsman. However, it is absurd for him to speak in public like that. I would like to go back to the way in which this whole discussion is being communicated and the tone in which it is being played out, not only in Parliament but in public. Of course, we have read in recent days what has been happening in the forums and social media and the comments on them. I think there are many people who support this type of expression. There are a lot of people who are saying, 'This one is right, that one is right. Of course, they're from where to where. But they women know a lot; they are this or that". And that's a product of the upbringing of, I would say "chalga" upbringing I have nothing against chalga music. But the "chalga" upbringing is the product of an entire generation, maybe even two or three generations. And it is currently showing up, much to my surprise, among people who should not have a "chalga" upbringing. And these are people, athletes, and artists they should think normally, and set an example. To think in such a way that society can reject all that we have seen in recent months. But the fact that there has been violence against women not for one month or one week, this has been building up for years.
Host: Yeah, it's not a problem today or yesterday.
Pepi Dimitrova: But it's not just a problem of our latitude and our time.
Maxim: Now that all this drama that has existed in our society for years is being given publicity. Yeah, probably maybe it's not just in Bulgaria, however that in no way says that we in Bulgaria shouldn't fight this or shouldn't give publicity. And now we see again a divided society that was divided over whether a Bulgarian flag should be stuck on Rozhen and raised.
Host: Even from this issue, the division happened, which is surprising in a way.
Maxim: And now again the pros and cons. There are people who say, "But women deserve them when they cross," and that's complete nonsense. Against this aggression and these opinions should be spoken very clearly, reasoned, calmly and very professionally. Without such antics in Parliament, I am not talking about podcasts at all. I have watched several of the podcasts in question, but it is not just Titi Papazov at all.
Host: What do you think about what Vejdi Rashidov's said?
Pepi Dimitrova: I think that what Vejdi Rashidov verbalized in this terrible way with ugly words in an inappropriate place is in the thoughts of many people.
Maxim: No, two points where I strongly disagree. I don't agree at all that our society thinks the way we've heard Rashidov, Papazov and various others speak. This is a very small part of society.
Pepi Dimitrova: We don't have a poll yet.
Maxim: Well don't we meet people from morning till night, all kinds of people.
Pepi Dimitrova: We meet people in our glass boxes.
Maxim: It's not like that at all. I don't move in a glass box, please.
Pepi Dimitrova: Mr. Behar, when you go to a small country town and talk to the people there.
Maxim: Most of the Bulgarian society is decent, positive thinking, cultured, well-mannered people.
Pepi Dimitrova: Just because they are respectable people doesn't mean that they don't have hesitations in their heads. It doesn't mean that they don't know about other cases. It doesn't mean that they don't hesitate.
Maxim: But in no way would I support what is happening against women. These are single people.
Pepi Dimitrova: I explicitly said I don't support this. I'm saying the issue is very complicated.
Maxim: I don't think the issue is very complicated. It is super simple.
Pepi Dimitrova: It is not a very complicated question.
Maxim: There are people who do violence.
Host: It's good that you have a different perspective.
Maxim: There are people who are violent towards women and these people should be publicly known.
Pepi Dimitrova: There are women who exercise violence against men. This issue is not that simple.
Maxim: Yes probably. But this is not about violence at all.
Pepi Dimitrova: There are like we said yesterday. About the fact that there are homosexual couples, same-sex couples where there is also violence. Let's look at the even more complicated issue. What does 60 days of a consensual intimate relationship mean? If it was consensual for 10 days and then turned violent? It's very complicated.
Host: These are questions that are yet to be discussed.
Maxim: However, they are not about communications.
Pepi Dimitrova: On the contrary, they are concerned about the courage of politicians. To open the topic deeply, to talk seriously, and responsibly about all the nuances. And they populistically decide very simply and quickly: 'Now we will say this is bad and now we will fix a point'.
Host: I'm bringing you back to behavior, though, because I want to focus with you on behavior. But were you impressed by the behavior of others around him? Let's reflect a little bit more generally on the picture.
Maxim: Who would have expected the former Speaker of Parliament to blurt out something like that? Probably if I were in the shoes of those people who were against him, I probably wouldn't know how to react either. Because this comes like a bolt from the blue. Nikola Minchev said it very clearly afterward, these are the kind of reactions that cannot be foreseen. He thinks that what is happening in Parliament from a purely communication point of view is unacceptable for any Parliament. Of course, we all know the British one, where the tone is much more aggressive, where people argue much more vehemently. However, they argue, and they argue about policy. There are no such trivial things, it is not about insults and qualifications. I have no idea how you can change these people in Parliament. They are representatives of the people, and they are what they are.
Host: Should there be some kind of reaction asked for in terms of when a statement like that happens, even if it's not formal, should there be a reaction from others around it?
Maxim: We don't have that reflex. Let's hope it never happens again and let's hope this is the last such case in Parliament.
Host: I hope so and thank you for being here.
You can watch the whole interview here.