The ban on construction in the coastal Bulgarian region Dobrudzha, imposed by the Ministry of Environment and Waters (MOEWs) but canceled by Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, affects the worst and the most the family of former lawmaker Zhivko Martinov from Borisov’s ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.
Martinov, AKA “The Sausage” recently made the headlines in Bulgaria when Prosecutor General, Sotir Tsatsarov requested from Parliament to strip the lawmaker from his immunity to be investigated for abuse of political position. According to witness accounts, Martinov pressured a businessman from his constituent city of Dobrich to donate a total of four metric tons of sausages worth BGN 45,000, telling him that he was included in a list of people who were expected to support GERB’s political activity. He also insisted that the sausages were to be delivered directly to the Prime Minister.
Other losers from the ban include oligarchs connected to the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the group TIM, the first results of a large-scale research by Bivol into the property ownership in the protected area.
The MOEWs did not publish a detailed map of the protected area of Dobrudzha, thus fueling speculation among locals as well as media manipulations against the ban imposed by the European Commission, which sued Bulgaria and sentenced it to pay a huge fine. Bivol, however, managed to acquire the geographical coordinates of the properties that fall into the area and began to investigate their ownership.
The first results from our research show that a large part of the affected properties are municipal and state-owned, and a very small part is private fields. On the other hand, some of the most lucrative coastal land plots are privately owned by some not so ordinary people and are even regulated to allow construction in them.
Thus, besides the “rescued” wind generators and a golf resort associated with the so-called “red (people close to the BSP – editor’s note) barons”, the country rulers seeks to rescue their other properties, as well as protect future construction by corrupters and alleged organized crime groups.
“Sausage Gate” Forever
Ironically, by upending the order of Environment Minister Neno Dimov, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov particularly helped the expelled from GERB, former MP Zhivko “The Sausage”” Martinov. Until 2014 he was the co-owner of the company Kaliakra Invest, which holds the three most lucrative terrains in the cape Kaliakra natural reserve. At present, the co-owners of the company are his brother Nikolay Martinov and his parliamentary adviser, Valentin Ivanov.
The company owns a total of 300 decares, 280 decares of which are urbanized and designated for construction. These are also the largest regulated terrains in the protected area, respectively, the most negatively affected by the construction ban.
The TIM group behind a Russian offshore
Another attractive terrain near the coast belongs to the company “Familia”. It is currently owned by the Russian company “Adamant Tours”, which is associated with the based in the Black Sea City of Varna TIM group.
The previous owner of “Familia” is the infamous company “Aleya Parva” (Alley One), which was directly owned by TIM. The company was sold in 2014 for BGN 1.8 million, including a very lucrative asset – the land on cape Kaliakra.
Adamant Tours’ ownership is tracked to the Cypriot offshore Knowpath Company Limited, but the manager of the Russian company Andrey Vladimirovich Omilaev also appears as representative of the BULGARIAN AVIATION GROUP. This is the company that the people from TIM used for their ill-fated investment in Kazan, as an investigation, conducted jointly with Bivol’s Russian partners from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), showed.
And “red” oligarchs…
The largest private terrain in the protected area on cape Kaliakra is above the “Bolata” beach. It made the headlines last year when a large fire broke out there.
Bivol’s research established that the terrain with identification number 07257.46.606 is owned by “Millennium & Co.” Ltd. It has bought it from “Intercell Bulgaria” in 2014, and in August 2016 it was mortgaged together with other properties in the Bulgarian-American Credit Bank (BACB) against a loan of BGN 8 million. A few days later, the fire broke out as well.
“Millennium & Co.” and “Intercell” have a common owner. This is the Luxemburg’s “GOLF AND LEASURE ENTERPRISE INTERNATIONAL”. Its ownership is hidden in several other offshores, a check by Bivol in Luxembourg’s Business Register showed. The end holder of the shares is a Luxembourg lawyer, who seems to be a proxy to the real owners.
Intercell owns several vine-growing companies: “Lozovi Gradini” (Vineyards Gardens), “Kraymorski Gradini” (Seaside Gradens), and “Lozya Kaliakra” (Vineyards Kaliakra), among others (see here).
Their common feature is the fact that they all have been managed by Alexander Dramaliyski, who was also the manager of the golf resort of oligarch Krassimir Gergov – Thracian Cliffs Golf & Spa Resort. Until April 2008, Gergov himself was co-manager of the company together with Dramaliyski.
At present, this land is not regulated for construction, but there were attempts to plant it with vineyards, which were stopped by the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters – Varna. The vineyard connection leads to Bisser Zdravkov Hristov, He is the co-owner of the luxury complex “Magnolia”, where socialist Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev settled after leaving the post in 2009.
Bisser Hristov is also a business partner with Rossen Doynov, son of high-ranking communist functionary during the regime, Ognyan Doynov. They were both managers of Boyana Park Sofia. Its current manager is the already-known by us Alexander Dramaliyski.
The big sharks behind the small owners
The disclosed so far information on financial interests explains the so-called “protesters” against the construction ban – mostly Roma with pre-prepared printed posters. They were led by Dimitar Kanariev’s National Association Bulgarian Black Sea Coast (NABBSC). NABBSC is a fake NGO, serving the interests of the owners and destroyers of Bulgarian nature.
As the research clearly reveals – the large land plots within the protected area are municipal or State property, while among them there are small private fields with an area of one to 10 decares. There is already a construction ban for these terrains. It would hardly be a problem for the State to compensate small private owners with other terrains outside the protected areas.
The real problem for Bulgaria’s rulers is the big sharks who have invested in property on the coast. On the one hand, they are connected with the government, and on the other, they have already prepared for future construction by taking care to change the status of the land.
Up to now, Bivol has studied a small part of the terrains that are located in the Kaliakra protected area. We continue to work on other parts near the towns of Balchik and Kavarna and north of Kaliakra, where we are also looking for interesting hits and disclosure of scandalous dependencies.
The MOEWs is expected to present a map of the protected areas at a discussion with the owners and the eco activists. The geographical coordinates of the protected area, however, are already available online and can be visualized on WWF’s GIS Portal (here – in Bulgarian). To see them, enable the Nano Ban layer and disable all other layers besides the cadaster. GIS Specialist Atanas Rusev assisted in converting the data into a format that can be used in other systems as well. The polygon database can be downloaded here: nenobanpolygons.
To be continued…
This post is also available in: Bulgarian