Two weeks ago, Bivol was the only one to exclusively reveal and publish scandalous facts, exposing connections between influential people in the high echelons of the judiciary and the executive and an organized crime group, according to the very definition of the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office. This group later staged a bloody shooting in the Sunny Beach resort. Our publication “Senior Magistrates and Interior Ministry’s Chief Secretary Attended Party at Black Sea Restaurant Owned by Thug’s Boss” was met with complete silence by all mainstream media, apparently spooked by the facts it exposed – that just a few days prior to the shooting, senior public figures and magistrates were partying in a restaurant, owned by the boss of a now internationally-notorious thug squad, led by Bozhidar “The Goat (or “The Cow”) Kuzmanov. The party-goers were in the company of the said owner – Plamen “The Pomorie Man” Petkov, an individual who was close to Bai Mile – the late boss of one of the two alleged main crime groups in the 1990s. According to insider sources, security for the event was provided by policemen, who also work for the mafia.
What has been said at this meeting is not known at this time, but it is a fact that only four days later, on June 8, Bulgaria’s largest summer resort was drowned in terror by the deadly mafia war that took place in the presence of hundreds of peaceful tourists and foreign nationals, when Kuzmanov’s gang clashed with the one led by the infamous Dimitar “Mitio The Eyes” Zhelyazkov. The brazen shooting in broad daylight ended with one killed and several wounded, including Zhelyazkov.
Two people from Kuzmanov’s gang were subsequently arrested. After a week of “hard” work, the Prosecutor’s Office admitted that we are dealing with a well-organized criminal group that has been active for years and attempts by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to downplay the June 8 shooting at the restaurant “4 YOU” in Sunny Beach, presenting it as a “neighborhood brawl” and a “dispute over a parking spot”, ended in complete fiasco.
At a press briefing in the Black Sea city of Burgas, held a few days after the gangs opened fire, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov indirectly confirmed the information published by Bivol that the clash between the gangs of Dimitar Zhelyazkov and Bozhidar Kuzmanov was over criminal territories. Our findings, exposing serious evidence of corruption and criminal ties between mobsters and police officers, were also confirmed, though half-heartedly.
After the statement of the Prosecutor General in Burgas, on June 28, the Interior Ministry and investigators initiated a “reenactment” of the events from June 8 in the restaurant “4 YOU”. The reenactment ended with several people in handcuffs. The leadership of the Interior Ministry assured that the police were not providing cover-up for organized crime, however, tipoffs about cops dealing drugs, on which Bivol shed light, turned out to be real, according to official statements of the Burgas police. In addition, police officers say that they are willing to testify before independent investigators with specific names, dates and events implicating colleagues in uniform in serious criminal activity.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office are yet to provide an official position whether Bozidar Kuzmanov was informed that the reenactment was a setup and would end with the arrests of those participating, but it is a fact that he was not among them and was reported missing later. The two institutions also must explain why the people of Dimitar Zhelyazkov were not summoned for this reenactment as they also participated in the shootout in the resort on June 8.
On June 29, the special anti-mafia prosecutors finally pressed charges against Bozhidar Kuzmanov and his gang for acting as an organized crime group, dealing with human trafficking, racketeering, extortion, drug dealing, destruction of property, beatings, and arson. However, we were left wondering whether the people of Dimitar Zhelyazkov are also an organized crime group and who is providing cover-up for whom?
When it comes to Plamen Petkov, the owner of the Pomorie restaurant, where the party took place, he is virtually Bozhidar Kuzmanov’s mafia boss. He was arrested after the shootout, along with several of his goons, but then released and is now wanted again. People in the know from the resort admit that it was precisely Petkov who brought and initiated Kuzmanov and his men in Sunny Beach. Both Petkov and Kuzmanov are known to the police and the media as protagonists in gangster wars between their group and the widow of Bai Mile – Sylvia Panagonova. Petkov and Panagonova are former partners who later clashed over real estate and business interests in Sunny Beach. The group’s rap sheet includes disturbing public order, hooliganism, attacks on police officers and other serious crimes. It is important to find out whether the group’s close relations with senior officials from the Interior Ministry and the local Prosecutor’s Office are keeping them untouchable and whether this will continue in the same way after Bivol’s revelations? The answers can be easily predicted given the huge amounts of corrupt money generated by illegal business on the Black Sea coast.
The truth may remain hidden for a long time, but not forever
In its official reply to questions by Bivol, the Interior Ministry officially confirmed all evidence we uncovered and published and which mainstream media avoid at all costs, namely:
- Nessebar policemen were caught with large quantities of illegal drugs; legal proceedings were launched, only to be later crushed by the prosecution;
- A large quantity of illegal drugs was found in the very police precinct in Nessebar, after people of Dimitar Zhelyazkov were arrested and brought there. The police did not search them, but forced them to throw the drugs into the toilet bowl in order to destroy evidence. This case was also crushed by the prosecution.
odmvr_burgas_zdoi (in Bulgarian)
The omerta is broken
A few days before the bloody shootout between Kuzmanov’s and Zhelyazkov’s gangsters, the Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Georgi Kostov, and the Head of the Ethics Committee of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), Yassen Todorov, participated in a celebration in Plamen Petkov’s restaurant on the occasion of the appointment of Radost Boshnakova as District Prosecutor of the coastal town of Nessebar. She is supposed to be precisely in charge of monitoring the unlawful activity in this dangerous region.
The letter signed by Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova states the following:
“…The Chief Secretary of the Interior, Chief Commissar, Georgi Kostov, was sent with an order of the Minister of the Interior on a professional trip with a professional task to the cities of Dobrich, Burgas, and Shumen; he travelled in an official vehicle. We would like to confirm that at the time of this trip, the Chief Secretary of the Interior honored a dinner invitation from the new District Prosecutor of Nessebar, on the occasion of her appointment. Representatives of law enforcement and local authorities, working with the District Prosecutor, organizer of the event, were invited to this dinner. The Interior Ministry’s Chief Secretary has no relation to the organization of the event.”
Following the Ministry of the Interior letter, our editorial office received an official letter from the SJC, which states:
“On June 3 and 4, 2016, Mr. Yasen Todorov has been sent on a professional trip to conduct a periodic appraisal of prosecutors from the District Prosecutor’s Office in the city if Burgas. At the time of this trip, Mr. Yasen Todorov honored a dinner invitation from the newly-elected District Prosecutor of Nessebar, on the occasion of her appointment. The Supreme Judicial Council has no relation to the organization of the event…”
Even a completely unbiased person can immediately notice the incredible lexical, morphological and stylistic similarity of the two official letters from two completely different institutions. As if they were written by the same author, although it seems virtually impossible. There are obvious similarities and coincidences in the circumstances – both senior civil servants were sent right to Burgas and ended in the same restaurant with local colleagues.
It is true that “Restaurant 24” in Pomorie is a public establishment and anyone can visit it. However, this is also true about the restaurant “4 YOU” in Sunny Beach, where the two gangs clashed with firearms in the presence of terrified citizens and tourists; miraculously there were no innocent victims!
It is likely that the theory that all events are the result of an absolute and unintended coincidence will be embraced by every participant in them. The leaked information that the restaurant in Pomorie was initially proposed as the location for the “historic” meeting between the two gangs is also likely to fall in the “coincidence” category during the investigation of the police and the prosecution. After all, their supervisors partied at that same place and it is not suitable to turn them into prospective witnesses who should be questioned.
The answer of the Interior Ministry provides new information as well. The party was attended by representatives of local authorities. Apparently the Ministry of Interior knows very well who these representatives were. Bivol will continue to work to have their names revealed as we believe that this is of serious public interest.
Bulgaria’s rulers see the problem in journalists’ questions, not in the evidence of a symbiosis between law enforcement and the mafia
The party in Pomorie and the Sunny Beach shooting raise new questions, but Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova carefully avoids them and precludes any opportunity to have them voiced in public. Our correspondent attended an open for the public media forum on combating corruption with the participation of Minister Bachvarova. The forum was organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy under the pompous motto “Conquering the State: Tackling Administrative and Political Corruption”.
Initially, the agenda included a debate. But once a representative of Bivol appeared, the plans changed. Our correspondent Dimitar Stoyanov was asked by the organizers if he was going to ask questions to which he replied affirmatively and the debate was promptly canceled in a completely Stalinist manner: No debate, no problem.
At least, assurances that the Interior Ministry has ordered a new probe sound somewhat comforting.
So far the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office is the only one to not violate the omerta
The institution, led by Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, is keeping silent and has not explained or commented on the statements of the Interior Ministry and the SJC, despite their acknowledgment that namely a prosecutor organized the event in Pomorie and they have no relation to it, thus transferring the responsibility to Tsatsarov.
In Bulgaria such stories have become trivial and this is probably the reason for the media silence. “Stability” in the country and proceeds from tourism are more important than upsetting politicians with journalist questions.
Meanwhile, our investigation in the events surrounding the Sunny Beach shooting will continue with even more shocking evidence of corruption, abuse of office and close interweaving of interests of people vested with power and distributors of illegal drugs.
Independent analysts understand that what is happening in Bulgaria today is a resurgence of the darkest times of uncontrolled, militant organized crime from the 1990s, when local mafia plundered national resources and kept citizens in a state of permanent fear and stress. Twenty five years later, the situation is similar, except that gangsters evolved, and in addition to the streets, they now control the executive, the legislative and the judicial power. The “records” we hold are indicative – we are first in corruption and last in media freedom in Europe…
This post is also available in: Bulgarian