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Mad about the Boiko.

The story of Todor Yossifov (26) shows that it's not easy to stay close to the leader after he became the first victim of the immense media attention surrounding Sofia mayor Boiko Borissov, whose party GERB won a landslide victory in the elections.

A day before Yossifov was due to take his place in Parliament, on July 13 he sent out a letter of abrogation on account of the sudden media interest in his past as a rap performer six years ago.

In 2003, Yossifov was a 20-year-old living in the Black Sea city of Bourgas, who, according to his own words, was looking for a way to vent his discontent at the corrupt nature of the political class. That's why he chose "the Maniac" as his stage name. Naturally, given the name he chose, the media were quick to find his video clips and songs from that time, which do sound out of place, showing why he failed to make it to the big stage and decided to drop the whole thing. This, however, was enough for the media to highlight him as one of the unpolished diamonds in Borissov's collection of 116 MPs he managed to get at the elections, with "the Maniac" naturally becoming centre-stage. Although he spent several hours touring TV studios, explaining that "the Maniac" had long disappeared, and this was just a transient phase, Yossifov could not avoid derision.

It was partly the media's fault, who decided to exploit the funny side of the story, but Yossifov has himself to blame too. He took the media attention as a personal attack on him and on GERB. Instead of using it to present the party as an organisation that valued his personal skills and not his past as a small-scale rap performer, he took the role of victim.

He just should have acted as someone who deserves to be taken seriously for what he is today. He is young, presentable, has a degree in marketing and works as a middle-management employee at a Bourgas factory. He also has a successful track record in the party.

According to statements by fellow party members in Bourgas, he played a vital role in developing GERB's youth structures in the city. And the fact that he joined GERB three years ago, and not a few months ago, when the party was already the largest opposition force, says a lot for his loyalty and commitment.

GERB's leaders are also to blame for leaving Yossifov unprepared for the media attack. Knowing his rap background, (we have to admit that his stage name "Maniac" is fertile ground for comments) they should have anticipated the interest in him and forged a strategy to turn it to his advantage. Instead, the media found a very confused young man who thought that everybody was against him and wanted to ridicule his songs. His extremely deep Bourgas accent only made things worse, as did Borissov who kept on calling him Toshko, a diminutive form of his name Todor, which is not a very nice way to be described in the media when wanting to be taken seriously. The only consolation for Yossifov is that Borissov said that he valued him greatly and promised him a post in the executive branch where he would work with Bulgaria's youth.

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Title Annotation:MY BULGARIA
Author:Kostadinov, Petar
Publication:The Sofia Echo (Sofia, Bulgaria)
Date:Jul 17, 2009
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