Bulgarian Customs Chief Dies Suddenly at Age of 57

Bivol will not be able to obtain his answers to questions about cigarette smuggling by Bulgartabac

Bulgarian Customs Chief, Vanyo Tanov, died of cardiac arrest at the age of 57. Yes, at this age cardiac incidents are not unusual. But … when a guy like Vanyo Tanov suddenly passes away, one cannot help it, but stress on the “BUT…”

Vanyo Tanov was without doubt one of the best-informed people in the country with regard to organized crime, contraband of any kind and its channels. Former Head of the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (GDBOP) and Head of the Customs Agency, he was a key figure in one of the greatest scandals after the fall of the Communist regime, commonly known as “Misho The Beer”. Its main protagonist, Mihail Mihov, also died suddenly and also of a heart attack. Soon after this sudden heart attack, Mihov’s wife passed away as well. Thus, all important witnesses in this affair, which strongly exposed current Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as being involved in corruption practices, trading influence and abuse of power, were eliminated.

Actually, not all – Tanov remained. But he kept silent and with this, he saved his leader Borisov. Former political party leader, Yane Yanev, who is now an adviser to the Prime Minister for the fight against corruption, at the time of the scandal loudly proclaimed an entirely opposite position and threatened with imminent dramatic developments.

The moment when the Western world will finally realize that the former bodyguard (Borisov – editor’s note) of Todor Zhivko (Bulgaria’s Communist dictator – editor’s note) is a gangster who just polished his public image, but not his ways, is approaching,” Yanev, then-leader of the party Order, Law, Justice, commented on the death of Mihail Mihov and asked to have foreign coroners conducting the autopsy.

The hint about foreign coroners directly refers to the theory that Mihail Mihov did not die from natural causes, but was killed from an induced heart attack. This is what Mihov’s son wanted to tell Bivol in desperate attempts to get in touch with us that were unfortunately unsuccessful. There is no way to know whether Yane Yanev had in mind something more specific. He now degraded to a radically different position that supports the ruling “gangster”. There is a lead, based on operational information, that services close to the KGB still use the special substances developed in secret communist laboratories that cause cardiac arrest a few hours after getting into the body and without leaving traces.

The scandal was buried mostly because of the silence of the Customs Head. This behavior was starkly different than Tanov’s previous appearances in which he did not spare uncomfortable truths even about the most powerful people in the country.

It is true that Tanov’s findings were often evasive enough to not break the omerta and send someone to prison, but at least earned him the image of a principled and strong-minded person, acting in adherence to the law. However, in the case of “Misho The Beer” he didn’t have the courage to send Borisov to the prosecutor. Who knows what demons prodded from Tanov’s past, which is associated with the Communist Secret Services, and ordered him to remain silent?

We will not forget Tanov’s attempt to discipline Lukoil and force the Russian monopoly to keep in line with Bulgarian and European legislation. This clearly proved “Mission Impossible”, nevertheless he tried. This and his latest achievements in the fight against cigarette smuggling with his old foes “Bulgartabac” and “KT International” possibly won him strong enough enemies capable of mobilizing resources for his neutralization.

Who will now give the answers about Bulgartabac?

But there is even more. Bivol expected to receive from Vanyo Tanov in coming days an official response under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) on exports of cigarettes by Bulgartabac to Iraq and other countries. We asked really key questions that could reveal the terrible truth about one of the main sources of dirty money of Bulgaria’s backstage rule with which it corrupts the entire State. And we were on the brink of receiving a reply…

Bivol sent questions even before Bulgartabac urged on their own the Customs Agency to say whether the tobacco manufacturer officially exported cigarettes to Turkey. Naturally, this superficial PR move of the associated with shadow MP Delian Peevski cigarette maker says nothing about cigarettes exported to Iraq and Syria through Dubai, which then flood the black market in Turkey. Turkish intelligence data are clear – 50 to 70% of smuggled cigarettes sold in Turkey are produced by Bulgartabac. There is alarming information that this is part of the dirty money used to finance terrorist organizations in the Middle East.

If after Tanov’s death we do not get answers to our questions, we will not stop. We have experience in lawsuits. Two and a half years ago, Bivol won a lawsuit against the State institution for refusing to provide the protocol from the inspection of the Customs Agency in Mihail Mihov’s brewery in Mezdra. We won at all instances and Vanyo Tanov personally declassified this protocol and gave it to us at a meeting in the Customs Agency.

The protocol notes in “black and white” that the inspection was obstructed. This document exposed the Prosecutor’s Office in manipulation. The same Prosecutor’s Office refused to launch criminal proceedings against Borisov on grounds that “despite the recorded phone calls they did not lead to the commitment of a crime”. Bivol’s years-long battle and our patience proved that in the end there was trading of influence to stop the probe in suspected illegal activities. In other words, the Prime Minister’s phone call has obstructed the inspection and led to illegal behavior of civil servants in favor of private interests – in other words – corruption “par excellence”. But even after this shocking fact was revealed and was confirmed by the former Deputy Chief of the Customs, Anthony Strandzev, the prosecution led by Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov did nothing. The case “Misho The Beer” was closed, or rather let simmer. As investigator Boyko Atanasov revealed, such cases may be renewed at any time by Tsatsarov’s special unit for racketeering naughty politicians.

This time around, however, the evidence of Bulgartabac’s smuggling is such that nothing can stop exposing the crime and the retribution for this criminal traffic and the profits of the political-business underground. Yes, Tanov was a controversial person, but he adhered to the law, as we mentioned.

R.I.P. Tanov, you can no longer talk, but others will speak instead of you and one day the omerta will be broken.




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