Bulgarian Interior Ministry Sacks Policeman Who Hijacked Libyan Tanker

Against the backdrop of several months of institutional and judicial tremors, the pirate hijacking of the Libyan tanker BADR with the active participation of the Bulgarian State is approaching its logical conclusion. Following several complaints by Libya, Panama withdrew the flag and call sign of the tanker, renamed BDIN by the pirates. The Interior Ministry has quietly dismissed the special task force policeman Alexander Longochev, who has led the thugs in the hijacking of the tanker. The District Court in the Black Sea city of Burgas ruled on April 25, 2019, to invalidate the order for immediate execution of private enforcement agent (PLEA) Totko Kolev. Other courts instances effectively rejected all pirates’ claims and the tanker must finally be returned to the Libyan State-owned company.

Pirate Militia in the Burgas Bay

The Libyan tanker BADR saga reached a serious phase at the end of last year, just before the Christmas holidays. On December 21, an armed attack against the ship was carried out in the Burgas Bay. It included government officials and thugs from the unlicensed private security company Bashev Team & Security who abused and humiliated sailors on board BADR, forced the legitimate crew out and replaced it with another one under the command of a Ukrainian captain.

Bivol was the first to publish the certified witness account and testimony of the captain and the crew about what exactly had happened. In addition, we provided evidence that police officers, acting as private security guards in violation of the law of the Ministry of the Interior, had been members of “Bashev Team & Security”. Alexander Vassilev Longochev (on the headline photo), an active policeman from the special police task force in the Bulgarian capital (SPS-Sofia), has boarded the BADR tanker dressed in a security guard uniform of Bashev Team & Security. He has been recognized by the captain of the ship as one of the persons who have stormed the tanker.

After several insistent questions by Bivol to the Interior Ministry, including under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), a response was received that disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against him and that he has been dismissed.

However, a number of institutional decisions and actions, including by Border Police and Maritime Administration, have made this shameful pirate act possible, as they have been entirely in favor of the contenders for the ownership of the tanker, namely the head of the “Titan” group Dimitar Borisov and the scandalous lawyer Tsvetan Tsanev. The latter is a former agent and collaborator of the Communist regime’s special services – the State Security (DS) and has been involved in many affairs, including the trafficking of amphetamines (captagone) in the 1990s, in a Cosa Nostra business with diamonds in Africa (Zwetan Tsanev) and now being an intermediary in the laundering of hundreds of millions of petrodollars from Venezuela.

A group of companies of the contenders, known as Bulgargeomin, attempted to conquer the tanker on grounds of a debt cession from the real former State-owned company with the same name that had long gone bankrupt. However, as it became clear, all claims of Bulgargeomin are based on a fake EUR 9 million marine mortgage issued in Athens.


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Because of the counterfeit, the Greek authorities have already arrested a local businessman, and the prosecution’s investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Athens Court of First Instance has imposed a precautionary measure banning the use of the marine mortgage for the BADR tanker.

After the scandal erupted, the Bulgarian side launched pre-trial proceedings against PLEA Totko Kolev, who organized the pirate hijacking of BADR. The Disciplinary Commission of the Chamber of Private Enforcement Agents stripped him of rights at the request of the justice minister for gross violations of the law, but the government remains silent and for unknown reasons is not boasting of this move. Totko Kolev is appealing the decision of the Commission.

Escape to Odessa

The pirates’ attempt to escape with the ship to Odessa was also part of the saga. As it became clear from the satellite data posted by the site Maritime.bg, on January 14, the tanker BADR weighed anchor and sailed to Odessa. After four hours of sailing in the northeastern direction, it made a U-turn and on the morning of January 15, it was already anchored in the Burgas Bay.

The tanker had turned off its beacon and radar system, but the Border Police cutter had managed to catch up with it and bring it back. According to Zhivko Petrov, Director of Maritime Administration, the captain had alleged that he had received an order to escape to Odessa from the owner Bulgargeomin.

In a conversation with Bivol, Zhivko Petrov admitted that the tanker’s captain had not obeyed his order to return to the Bay and had attempted to escape. Officially, however, Maritime Administration and the Border Police in Burgas have been silent about this fact.

No flag or call sign

After all international institutions were notified of the scandal, Panama launched a procedure to withdraw the flag of the tanker, renamed from BADR to BDIN. The withdrawal of the Panamanian flag is already a fact, shows a reference in the Equasis system, where since March 1, 2019, the ship is under unknown jurisdiction. This means that it cannot move from the raid in Burgas Bay where it remains anchored after the unsuccessful escape attempt.

Meanwhile, Bulgargeomin tried to sell the tanker to an offshore company in Liberia. Such a change in ownership, however, is not reflected in the Equasis registers and is probably just another bluff by the DS cops behind the company.

The BADR saga shows that although “even a sparrow cannot remain unnoticed in Bulgarian territorial waters “, to quote Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, it is quite possible with the logistic support of State institutions to hijack a tanker in the Somali pirates style and to have the organizers of this shameful action remain unpunished because they have immunity as cadres of the backstage command center of the ex-DS.

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This post is also available in: Bulgarian

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