The borders of the Kaliakra protected area will be reviewed “orchard by orchard”, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said Tuesday at a meeting at the Council of Ministers, convened after the scandal with the Ministry of Environment and Waters’ (MOEWs) order for a construction ban in the cape Kaliakra area. At the same time, the order was manipulatively presented to the locals, without a detailed map of the area. This was followed by well-organized protests of groups of people, led by pseudo-environmental organizations serving oligarchic interests, as it has happened numerous times in the past. The protesters’ total information blackout and their irrationality were obvious, and it was only a matter of time to unearth the real culprits for breaches of European law and directives. And they are not ordinary farmers and gardeners, concerned about their livelihood. These people are the same emblematic figures that are the ones to blame for the destruction of the Bulgarian nature and turning our coast and our mountains into a concrete jungle.
The MOEWs published the map only Tuesday afternoon, when the case Kaliakra scandal became the reason for a special meeting organized by the Council of Ministers with all interested parties – too little, too late, after the massive manipulation to which ordinary farmers in the Dobroudza region were subjected. The truth is that all the government’s actions speak only of it wondering how to satisfy the huge appetites of oligarchic groups and circles that have bought the land in and around Kaliakra. This is a rather difficult task against the backdrop of EU pressure and the open procedure against Bulgaria, involving huge fines, precisely because of past government protection for business projects in the protected areas. Borisov personally cut the ribbon of the scandalous golf resort of advertising mogul Krassimir Gergov, one of the reasons for the EU sanctions. As Prime Minister, Borisov is personally responsible for the outrage in this area and the current difficult situation.
Bivol created a detailed map with WWF‘s assistance and began to examine the properties “orchard by orchard” long before the MOEWs undertook actions to calm the tensions in the area. It turned out that the owners of the most lucrative terrains are not locals with orchards, but oligarch after oligarch, each one more notorious than the other.
On the Dobroudza coast popped up properties mainly belonging to infamous former lawmaker from Borisov’s ruling center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party – Zhivko “The Sausage” Martinov, who made the headlines for corrupt practices. He has sold his Kaliakra Invest company to his brother, who is in partnership with another GERB representative and local party functionary, Valentin Nikolov. Such schemes are a common corrupt practice of Bulgarian lawmakers. (Reminder – former GERB MP Emil Dimitrov, who seized state-owned protected sand dunes through a company registered under his mother’s name – a shady deal discovered and investigated in detail by Bivol.) Close to Martinov’s terrains, right next to the Kaliakra natural reserve, there is a large property of a company affiliated with advertising boss and owner of the Thracian Cliffs golf course Krassimir Gergov. It turned out that there is also an offshore-owned plot in the area that is connected to the group TIM and is regulated for residential development.
Our ongoing investigation into the “orchards”, led us to other big sharks lurking in coastal waters such as Litex Commerce of Grisha Ganchev, as well as four plots of the company “Dest” of tycoon Stoyan Zhelev, who started his business in the first days of “democracy’s” arrival in Bulgaria. He is the Chairman of the Association of Automobile Manufacturers in Bulgaria, representative for Bulgaria of “Peugeot” and other automobile brands, owner of Sofia Grand Auto, DZI Leasing and having business activities in dozens of companies and sectors, including winemaking. Those who remember these times know that none of this would have been possible without the blessing of the Communist secret services and the Communist party. Zhelev has also graduated with a major in international relations in Moscow, at the time of the USSR.
Among large, waterfront terrain owners between the towns of Balchik and Kavarna are also a Seychelles-registered offshore and a Danish company that have plots adjacent to Thracian Cliffs Golf. Their owners are unknown for now.
Very large waterfront properties of nearly 1,100 decares in the town of Balchik are owned by First Investment Bank (FIB or Fibank). These terrains are subject to a separate investigation by Bivol. Because of the way FIB has acquired ownership of large land plots on the coast, the Bank is sued by a US company in a US court. The outcome of the case is pending but it will echo on international level as it is connected to an attack on US capital of a particularly large scale. The terrains of FIB have construction documents ready for the building of a big vacation village, but fall within the protected zone A. According to the regimes in it, they must remain a forest fund, and construction is banned there. The loss for the Bank from the protected status of these plots is measured in BGN hundreds of millions.
All these properties will remain undeveloped if the MOEWs order for the Kaliakra protected area remains in place. It was canceled on the orders of Boyko Borisov, but after a conversation with Brussels, it remains in force for now.
For the peace of mind of a snitch
“We saved the golf and the wind parks,” said Environmental Minister, Neno Dimov, clearly indicating on whose side the government stands.
The “golf” is the Thracian Cliffs golf course of advertising boss and former officer of the former Communist secret services (DS) Krassimir Gergov (in co-ownership with banker Georg Tsvetanski). As mentioned above, the resort was personally inaugurated by Boyko Borisov in 2011.
“The construction of the golf complex is a very good investment with care for the nature,” Borisov said then, quoted by Focus
Precisely because of this course and six wind farms of different owners, Bulgaria was sentenced by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to a large fine until their removal. Today, however, the Prime Minister is trying to put the blame on the former Three-Party Coalition government, despite the many opportunities he has had to halt construction outrages.
Following the ruling, Neno Dimov announced that Bulgaria and the European Commission have agreed not to destroy the golf course, the wind farms and the houses that fall in protected areas, but to expand the Kaliakra protected area.
And for the sake of wind oligarchs…
By approving the implementation of the projects ‘AES Geo Energy’, ‘Disib’ and ‘Longman Investment’ in the territory of the Kaliakra IBA which was not classified as an SPA, although it should have been, the Republic of Bulgaria has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 4(4) of the Birds Directive;
Here is the owner of “Disib” – one of the main culprits for turning Kaliakra into a wind farm and provoking the EU procedure against Bulgaria for which we all are paying today:
Therefore, Borisov’s current attempts pass the ball are a stark example of political hypocrisy.
Obviously, in order to blur the real responsibility, the MOEWs sent a series of confusing messages that prompted a wave of fake news that agriculture and fishing in Dobroudza will be completely forbidden and those to blame are mainly environmental activists, causing unrest among locals and protests organized by large owners.
Whoever managed to build, will reap the benefits
Despite the announcement that detailed maps of protected areas and the properties inside them will be made public, this did not happen. The map published by the MOEWs is too vague as it does not show exactly which property is under protection and which is not. At a public hearing with the Prime Minister, the MOEWs announced that it would send the maps to the local mayors of the respective municipalities, where the protected area would be discussed as “orchard by orchard”. However, it is not clear how exactly this will happen, but it is certain that this whole saga will swallow huge state and public resources only to cover-up the crimes and throw dust into the eyes of the public.
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