Bivol’s findings - ignored for months

Bivol exposed our secret weapons in Ukraine; Petkov and Ninova denied it

The former government is using the topic of weapons and diesel deliveries for election PR, but they are silent about the commissions
Nikolay Marchenko
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No, there is no news in Die Welt and POLITICO’s articles, the secret weapons deliveries to Ukraine were first exposed by investigative journalism outlet Bivol in partnership with  Polish investigative publication Fundacja Reporterow – Frontstory.pl. The investigation by Bivol and our colleagues happened in July 2022, when the Petkov government and its economy minister Korneliya Ninova kept denying any deliveries and refused to reply to our questions about them. Most probably because Bivol’s sources confirmed there had been shady dealings like the one involving Belarus-made shells which the Ukrainians and Romanians returned because they were rusted, while Lena Borislavova and Kaloyan Metodiev personally pressured state-owned weapons manufacturer VMZ Sopot to repaint them. Back then Bivol and our Polish colleagues received confirmation on the deals from the Ministry of Defence of Poland and by the Ministry of Economics of Romania. Today, however, Kiril Petkov, Assen Vassilev and Korneliya Ninova are using their commissions scheme from the export of weapons worth millions as political PR in the election campaign. That scheme, along with the one for the illegal export of fuels made of Russian oil into Ukraine from Bulgaria, has now been inherited by Galab Donev’s caretaker government. Bivol and Frontstory.pl’s investigation has now been published in English, Polish, Russian, Romanian, and Czech, but has been largely ignored by the traditionally unprofessional and self-censoring Bulgarian media.

We wrote about the massive weapons deliveries on 19 July 2022

“Sofia secretly selling old weapons meant for Ukraine via Poland and Romania”,

Bivol wrote in Bulgarian and English with the help of the Polish investigative journalists on 19 July 2022. In the same piece, we exposed Kiril Petkov and Korneliya Ninova’s scheme headed by Lena Borislavova and Kaloyan Metodiev, which could be the real reason behind the mass firings on the boards of VMZ Sopot” and other state-owned weapons manufacturers. Back then Bivol received an official letter from the Ministry of Economy and Romanian state-owned defence company RomArm confirming there was a deal with the infamous Bulgarian company “Algans” EOOD favoured by the Petkov government.

 
Image: Rusty shells shipped from Bulgaria to Ukraine (Photo: Bivol)

In the same article Bivol was the first to reveal, based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act obtained with the help of the then foreign minister Teodora Genchovska, that between March and June 2022 there had been 50 military flights to Rzeszow, Poland, carrying special purpose goods.

Our team calculated that  50 flights over 90 days would mean one happening every other day from Sofia, Varna or Burgas, where Ukrainian and Polish military planes had been spotted. We also wrote that the deal in question was valued around 1 billion euro. Not a single ministry or government institution in Bulgaria cooperated with us except the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Image: The headline of the joint investigation by Bivol and Fundacja Reporterow

The story was reported by media in Bucharest, Warsaw, Kyiv, Prague, and even Moscow. The investigation came out in Polish on the site Frontstory.pl, in Russian The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) website, in Czech on website of the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism Investigace.cz, on CNN’s subsidiary TV channel in Romania Antene3/CNN (see the video below), on the Romanian website Panorama.ro, and was quoted on a number of Ukrainian and Russian media. But in Sofia, only Capital dared to quote Bivol’s investigation in their article on the topic.

Image: Our joint article with our Polished colleagues published in Czech by Investigace.cz

 

We would like to remind BSP leader and MP Korneliya Ninova, as well as MPs from “We Continue the Change” Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev that using a war to do business is nothing to boast about or use for cheap pre-election PR. It should instead be a good occasion for them to be summoned by State Agency for National Security (DANS) to provide explanations on how they helped a Bulgarian company re-export Soviet-era munitions to Romania and Ukraine from a sanctioned country and ally of Putin’s Russia – the Republic of Belarus.

Image: The kind of documentation used by the Ministry of the Economy

They should also explain why the forged certificate from Belarus, written in Russian, was corrected in Bulgaria and ended up full of spelling mistakes. Bivol continues to insist that DANS, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Prosecutor’s office should investigate the scheme because profiteering from a war and syphoning blood-soaked commission money to Bulgarian politicians amounts to treason and sabotage in favour of the Kremlin and its dictator Vladimir Putin.


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Antena 3 / CNN - Romania

It is not unusual for big discoveries with an international impact to originate from Bivol. And as always they are sidelined by the dependent media in Bulgaria until they echo out abroad. This is why we don’t consider the articles in Die Welt and POLITICO, which are not at all investigatory, but just a collection of praises for Petkov and Vassilev in front of the misinformed and deceived Western media, as a reason for pride on Sofia’s behalf for having “helped Ukraine”. Most probably, if Moscow needed our munitions, the Bulgarian politicians would organise deliveries to Vladimir Putin, not just Zelensky. As long as there were commissions involved.  

Our article made the top 10 for August according to the Global Investigative Journalism Network

The way We Continue the Change and BSP denied the weapon shipments and collectively lied in favour of  Lukoil to guarantee a derogation on the import ban of Russian in favour of the company is another important topic. Last summer Bivol and The Citizens Movement “Bulgaria United With One Purpose” (BOEC) grilled the then head of the National Revenue Agency (NAP), a protege of Assen Vassilev, over not investigating any of  “Lukoil’s” crimes. Back then, he stated that they would pay a measly 7 million BGN, all the while the public was aware that they had dodged billions of BGN in taxes over 23 years.

Image: Teodora Genchovska was the only politician to provide Bivol with information about the weapons deliveries to Poland.

Now the scheme becomes obvious – Kiril Petkov, Assen Vassilev and Spetsov had clearly decided not to stand up to the Kremlin and Lukoil but to simulate their repeated “help” for Ukraine and to give themselves an image boost in front of Kyiv and Washington at the expense of Brussel’s sanctions, which they undermined with the post-factum permission of the European Commission to re-export Russian fuels to Ukraine.

Image: Antena 3/ CNN Romania

Just so they could protect their government, which later collapsed regardless, Petkov and co then didn’t vote for any outright military assistance to Ukraine. They lied that Lukoil Neftochim Burgas was not capable of working with any other oil except Russian. Despite the fact that for decades Bulgaria has imported oil from the Middle East, mainly from Iraq and Libya, for the Neftochim refinery.

All that was not secret help for Ukraine, it was just secret and cynical support for the Putin regime, which continues to sponsor its military actions with the petrol money obtained through openings in the EU’s sanctions regime created by countries like Bulgaria.

Image: Panorama.ro

Bivol will not stop with our investigations exposing harm inflicted on Bulgaria, the EU and Ukraine, even if it is often masked as “help” and “assistance”. How and who in Bulgaria sabotages the international embargo on Russian oil and fuel for the benefit of Putin, in the process breaking EU, Romanian and Ukrainian law, will soon become clear from an international investigation by Bivol and our partners.

***

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