Tens of thousands of metric tons of radioactive inert materials have been obtained and used illegally in construction. Roads, buildings and infrastructure are built with rubble and gravel from uranium mines. The consequences are fatal and tragic. Prosecutors, naturally, terminated the investigation in illegal activity on grounds that there was insufficient evidence to press criminal charges against guilty officials. The established violations of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters (RIEW) were defined only as administrative. With this action, Bulgarian prosecution reinforces once again the view that it cares to conceal, not to expose crime and corruption that stifle society.
For the first time, BIVOL will showcase for you who the people who established and alerted institutions about the extraction of radioactive inert materials from the forestry fund of the State Forestry in Tvardica. Forest rangers Usain Shakirov and Georgi Donchev reveal the details of this story. The men say that four years ago they have reported to the competent authorities that radioactive inert materials were used in the building of infrastructure projects of national importance and in new construction in Sliven. The result of their tipoffs was a cover-up of the scandal.
We started to tell you about the misadventures of the two former employees of the specialized unit “Forest Guard” at the Executive State Forestry Agency (EFA) in one of our previous publications. Shakirov and Donchev made repeated attempts to provoke an investigation by the competent authorities in Sliven and Burgas on the radiation issue. They have compelling evidence that in 2007, the now former Head of the State Forestry in Tvardica, Stoyan Bozhilov, allowed the private company “Ekosediments” to extract inert materials from the forest fund there. The permit affected heaps of the closed uranium mine near the village Sborishte.
Shakirov and Donchev are convinced that such permit could not be issued without the approval of the Head of the State Forestry and Game Farm – Sliven. At that time, Peycho Varbanov headed the local government. As reference, today he is the Director of the Southern State Forestry. He is a former collaborator of the Communist State Security (DS) with the telling alias “Forest”.
Varbanov’s resolution on the letter of “Ekosediments”, seized by Shakirov
No One Measured Radiation of Trucks Loaded with Rubble from Uranium Mines
For Usain Shakirov, the story of the radioactive inert materials began when he saw on the desk of Hristo Hristov, Deputy Director of the Forestry in Tvarditsa, a letter with the resolution of Peycho Varbanov for extraction of inert materials from the heaps of the uranium mines between Shivachevo and Tvardica. They are located in the forestry farm. One of the clauses of the quarrying order states that each truck should be tested for radiation. A specific forestry employee was supposed to monitor the load volumes of inert materials and their level of radiation.
Shakirov asked Hristov to provide the documents which have certified the “Ekosediments’,” truck loads. Then it turned out that there were no such documents because they were not at all prepared. Shakirov seized the order-protocol for extraction and immediately informed his superiors in EFA.
A probe was launched and it dragged on for years. However, the issue is undoubtedly of fundamental interest to public health. According to the forest ranger, rocks from uranium mines were laid in the foundations of the road through the Hainboaz mountain pass, in construction of new buildings in Sliven and elsewhere.
Extraction without Concession
The extraction of inert materials affected over 30 decares of State Forestry at the site Blagoritsa. The contracts did not mention at all the felled trees there. The construction company from Sofia – “Ekosediments” – paid to the State Forestry in Tvardica 1 lev! per cubic meter of rock mass from the uranium mines. This is a symbolic price because at that time the price of a cubic meter of inert material varied between 6 and 60 levs. The contract states that 16,900 cubic meters were going to be extracted from the site.
The extraction of inert materials, by law, can be made only after the conclusion of the concession. They are considered mineral resources that are exclusive State property. A concession, however, should be preceded by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that needs to be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Waters (ME). However, nothing of the sort has been done. Such is the view of the Sliven District Prosecution and Burgas Appellate Prosecution. At the end of 2008, the Sliven District Prosecution probed the case. RIEWs also intervened and issued a citation for administrative violation on the part of the company that extracted the stone mass from the heaps and a fine of 5,000 levs.
The public prosecution, however, assumes that buyers inadvertently misled Stoyan Bozhilov to allow them to do the quarrying. In other words, there has been a mistake. In mid-2010, Usain Shakirov and Georgi Donchev wrote directly to the Deputy Prime Minister from then-ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party (GERB), Tsvetan Tsvetanov. The Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas saw the conclusions of their counterparts in Sliven as illogical. The appellate magistrates ordered that the investigation should be resumed and returned pre-trail proceedings 282 «IP» / 2008, on the inventory of the Regional Directorate of the Interior Ministry in Sliven, to the District Prosecutor’s Office – Sliven. At the end, the investigation was closed.
Here is the answer Bivol received after it made an official request to the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations:
With a decree from August 7, 2009, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office – Sliven has terminated pre-trial proceedings on the ground that the case lacks evidence of any offense under Article 282, Paragraph 1 of the Penal Code as it was accepted that officials at the State Forestry – Tvarditza and the Regional Forestry – Sliven, at the time of the sealing of the contracts, had acted with knowledge that the rock mass was owned by the State Forestry – Tvardica.
With a decree from February 27, 2009, the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office – Burgas, on the occasion of a tipoff, has made an official examination of the case and ruled for the annulment of the decree of the District Prosecutor’s Office – Sliven and ordered to conduct additional investigation with specific instructions.
The assessment of the case file suggests that there is no evidence that officials in the State Forestry – Tvarditza and the Regional Forestry in Sliven have exceeded their powers in order to obtain benefits for themselves or for another person or cause damage to another and this has not led to insignificant harmful consequences. Evidence collected during the investigation further supports this conclusion.
In connection with quarrying waste rock from the closed mine, violations have been established and they have been properly classified as administrative ones by the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters – Stara Zagora, for which a citation for an administrative offense was issued, but the original investigation and as well as the following one did not collect evidence to justify these violations to be qualified as a crime under Article 282 Paragraph 1 of the Penal Code.
With a decree from January 1, 2011, pre-trial criminal proceedings, 282 «IP» / 2008, on the inventory of the District Directorate of the Ministry of Interior – Sliven, entry number 1664/08, and entry number 11/09 on the inventory of the District Prosecutor’s Office – Sliven, were terminated due to lack of evidence of a crime.
The Company «Ekosediments”
It is especially curious to find out who is the owner of the company quarrying the inert materials. In recent years, “Ekosediments” Ltd. has been repeatedly in the focus of the media. According to a reference in the information system DAXI, at the time of the signing of the contract with the State Forestry in Tvardica, the company was managed by Konstantin Krastev Nedyalkov and was owned by Georgi Tsvetanov Lachkov, Georgi Vasilev Vasev and Marian Kanev Georgiev. Also at that time, the address of the company was in Sofia, “Prof N. Mikhailov” street. Several years ago, the foundation “Epsilon” and the sports club “Attila-J” were registered there as well. Both legal entities were initially chaired by the infamous businessman from Sliven Yosif Yosifiv AKA Yosko. In 2011, Yosko bought out the shares of Marian Georgiev, but the registration of the company remained on “Prof N. Mikhailov” street. It also housed the office of Yosko’s lawyer Hristo Hristov. The former mayor of Sliven Yordan Lechkov once again became a defendant in a legal case over “Ekosediments” Ltd. on accusations that he had given the company permit for uncontrolled extraction of inert materials from river beds near Sliven, however, it did not stand in court.
Yosif Yosifov – Josko gained prominence in 2004. Since then, he has been stubbornly but unsuccessfully investigated in the murder of Konstantin Dimitrov AKA Samokovetsa in Amsterdam and for drug trafficking and pimping. In early March 2011, Yosifov killed two people in a traffic accident in Sofia’s “Boyana” suburb and left two others severely injured. In the subsequent case it became clear that at the time of the accident, Yosifov was driving under the influence of alcohol (DYI). Last year, the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations sent him to prison for six years. Currently, Yosifov is not involved in any company. However, his wife Vanya is the owner of “Building Protect” Ltd., dealing with construction and real estate trade.
Bivol also asked questions to the National Security Agency (DANS) as it participated in the prosecutor’s investigation. Have any radioactive materials been used in housing construction? Where exactly? Are they dangerous to public health? Is the assertion of Usain Shakirov that in the air only their radioactive decay is five times above normal true, as it was established by the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Stara Zagora within the frame of DANS’ probe? So far, these questions remain unanswered by DANS.
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