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Petko Arnaoudov is standing close to former Socialist leader and leader of the Party of European Socialists (PES), Sergei Stanishev, during public events in the region

On January 24, 2014 at 1 pm, forest inspectors caught near the Black Sea town of Ahtopol a horse cart loaded with felled wood, led by two Roma with cutters. A protocol was written and cutters were seized, as required by law.

The inspectors, however, set themselves for trouble. Their boss is the infamous former Mayor of the Black Sea town of Tsarevo, Petko Arnaudov, and the Roma are his constituents. Cutters were returned and forest inspectors were moved to another location.

This is just one detail of Arnaudov’s activities as Head of the Forestry in Tsarevo, who is in charge of the difficult task of implementing the so-called scheme 19:45. And he is implementing it. Companies closely related to him are felling where they should and where they should not. Authorities catch them and nothing follows from that.

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The appointed by DPS (the party largely representing the Turkish minority – Movement for Rights and Freedoms – editor’s note) boss of the Regional Forest Directorate in Burgas, Mitko Mitev, is Petko Arnaudov’s supervisor. The protocols of findings of six trucks with illegally felled wood by the company “Kris Mar 1” in section 95 in the Forestry of Tsarevo in the Strandza Mountain are piled on his table. Mitev, however, does not issue penal provisions as he should under the law. Because elections are on the horizon and trucks loaded with wood are a valuable resource. The 19:45 scheme works and must work.

Bivol wrote in detail about how this scheme functions before it became known by that name. Forests remain one of the few State resources that, within months, can be converted into cash. This is done simply by the felling and sale of timber, which has a guaranteed market in neighboring countries. Technologically and theoretically, the theft is possible because of the discrepancy between reported and actual cubic meters of felled wood. Due to the specificity of the measurement, it is normal for the actual yield to exceed the forecasted one by 20 – 25%. Is the excess production going to be duly recorded and sold transparently at an auction is a several-million-levs question.

Arnaudov, himself, is obviously living in the past, when he enjoyed the protection of the senior leadership of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). These days, he still continues to direct official documents to lawyer Evgeni Mosinov – the Burgas BSP chief and longtime attorney of the Tsarevo municipality.

How is Mosinov currently related to the Forestry is a mystery. However, both Mosinov and Arnaudov will be remembered for the most daring corruption outrages against nature on the southern coast. Under their expert management, Park Strandza was liquidated and the construction of the infamous illegal vacation village “Golden Pearl” was launched; the most lucrative plots were given away to “extremely disadvantaged” municipal councilors as was camping “Coral”; Bulgarian drug lord Brendo took camping “Oasis”, while a Russian mafia boss build the “City of Horror” for 5,000 holidaymakers in Tsarevo.

On Monday, caretaker Deputy Agriculture Minister Georgi Kostov pledged transparency in the planned and obtained quantities of wood on all Forestry in the country. His media appearances show that he is fully aware of what is happening in Bulgarian forests. In the morning political talk show of bTV, Kostov said that Forestry directors were asked to pay 10,000 – 15,000 levs in bribe to remain in office and such schemes are public knowledge in the Ministry’s system. “The list of people removed from office is long; you know how Petko Arnaudov of Tsarevo was appointed.”

Yes, we know. We just do not know why Arnaudov still occupies public office and for how long this will last?

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