Employees of the company “Venice Marina,” associated with drug lord Hristoforos Amanatidis AKA Taki, have occupied the boat harbor in the natural reserve Ropotamo despite the terminated contract by the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters due to violations.
Security guards of the reserve have called the police from the nearby town of Primorsko. The police cruiser visited the location, checked the situation and left. “It is not our job to protect the reserve,” said the head of the Police Department in Primorsko, Galin Sgurov in a statement of the Regional Police Directorate through speaker Tsvetelina Randeva. Sgurov redirected the commitment to protect the rule of law to Border Police, but they have responded that this was absurd.
The job of the Interior Ministry, however, is to enforce the law, which, in this case, is obviously breached. This is clearly demonstrated by Bivol’s research and investigations.
Concession contracts with “Venice Marina” to manage “boating” on Ropotamo for tourists were suspended last year after a series of publications of Bivol which exposed illegal construction carried out by the company in the protected area. After the outburst of the scandal, the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas terminated the contract for the facilities on land, but let the contract for the boats. The Primorsko municipality stopped the construction, while illegal building and the sanctioning of offenders by the institution were upheld by all courts.
The contracts with “Venice Marina” were signed by the former head of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas, Boycho Georgiev, who became infamous in the scandal known as Dunes Gate for his closeness with the destroyers of dunes from SLE group and the speedy construction permits in protected areas, which he signed for them.
The public bid, held by Georgiev, for selection of contractor for leisure activities in the reserve was appealed by another party and was declared illegal by the Administrative Court in Burgas on February 28, 2014. Thus, in fact a breach has been already established in the closing of the lease agreements. The decision of the Administrative Court in Burgas can be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court.
Separately, in a letter with reference number 6177 from August 12, 2013, the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters in Burgas informed the company that because of illegal construction, it was unilaterally terminating the agreement for the boats, which was signed on October 24, 2012, and ordered “Venice Marina” to vacate in full the premises which are state property .
“Venice Marina” appealed the order of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas before the District Court, which on the first instance declared the contract valid. The Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters appealed that before the Court of Appeals. However, the termination is effective and the judicial appeal shall not prevent the order to vacate the premises, according to lawyers. The judicial procedure does not stop the execution of this order as well. Besides, there is a new ongoing public tender procedure for a new concession. “Venice Marina” Ltd. have purchased tender documents, according to information obtained by Bivol, which indirectly means that they, themselves, consider Boycho Georgiev’s procedure invalid.
“Venice” moved in in the Ropotamo harbor in the afternoon of March 28. According to border police, catamarans have entered the mouth and upstream Ropotamo in the direction of Atia.
Approached for comment, the Head of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas, Antoniy Ivanov, said that he considered moving in vessels illegal because the reserve is state property and according to the Protection of Territory Act, unregulated presence there is unacceptable. This effectively means neither more nor less an occupation of strictly protected areas. Ivanov was adamant that the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas had no valid contract with any company and no one is allowed to enter, let alone bring big catamarans along the Ropotamo river.
In response, he has written three acts of infringement committed by the catamarans’ skippers. A formal letter has been sent to the Maritime Administration to duly establish the ownership of the vessels, although it is actually known to whom they belong. The Director of the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters has also sent a letter to the company notifying it that it had a 3-day deadline to voluntarily vacate the Ropotamo reserve. Ivanov stated that if they fail to comply, he would alert the Regional Governor, who is to take appropriate action on behalf of the state.
The 3-day deadline, given by the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters, should expire today (Friday), if we have any rule of law left currently. Regional Governor Pavel Marinov is required to order the removal of the occupiers by force. Such repeated inactivity of all state institutions and structures regarding the arrogant disregard of the rule of law leads to ominous conclusions for the merge of power and criminal interests.
Who or what are Taki’s people taking for a walk on the river?
In previous investigations, Bivol revealed that the company “Venice Marina” LTD is associated with drug trafficking fugitive Hristoforos Amanatidis AKA Taki. “Venice Marina” is owned by the registered in the UK “Stoymenov Group Limited” Ltd. One of the “gauleiters” (senior regional party functionary in nazi Germany – editor’s note) of late ringleader Georgi Iliev on the Black Sea coast, Veselin Stoymenov, is believed to be the owner of the British offshore company. He is known to be one of the people who took over the business of VAI Holding after the murder of Iliev in the Sunny Beach resort in the summer of 2005. This same company is the sole owner of “RV Investment” Ltd, which is co-owner with Hristoforos Amanatidis Taki of the Nessebar-based company “Intertour,” a reference in the Trade Registry shows.
Bivol described ways to smuggle various contraband goods, including drugs, through the harbor of Ropotamo. The mouth of the river even falls in partial shade from radars and no one can precisely monitor what boats go in and out there. The strong interest of companies linked to organized crime to monopolize water activities in this reserve should be subject to investigation by the State Agency for National Security (DANS).
“Venice Marina” representative, Veselin Stoymenov, bragged days ago in media that during summer season 2013 he had transported by boats on Ropotamo over 70 000 visitors! However, according to river captains, this number is twofold more than the feasible for the summer season and the figure is greatly exaggerated. If an objective examination proves that there is a drastic discrepancy between declared and feasible volume of services in Ropotamo, then the question should become the focus of attention of the Economic Police and the National Revenue Agency (NRA) for probable money laundering through boat tours.
Updated 8:30 pm on April 4, 2014
After Bivol’s publication, the boats not only were not forcibly taken out by police, but increased and are now five. This is a clear sign of impunity felt by gangsters, of their arrogant attitude to the rule of law and the helplessness of our dummy state institutions.
Ropotamo – without signs and without protection
The protected, because of its uniqueness, Ropotamo river had no signs at its mouth to prohibit entry and running wild along its stream. This insane and arrogant explanation was given by the crew of “Venice Marina” to inspectors who have gone there to write citations for the offense. Without complying with security and experts from the state inspection, they invaded the river and declared they would remain and did not intend to remove the vessels.
“Entry of Ropotamo from the mouth in its territory and anchoring at the harbor with a boat of the catamaran type, belonging to “Venice Marina”, without coordination with the Regional Inspectorate for Environment and Waters in Burgas and without an awarded contract for tourist activities and boating on the river Ropotamo in the Ropotamo reserve.” This is literally written in three acts of infringement which were issued already one week ago, over the invasion and occupation of the reserve. The violations are of Bulgarian legislation and of orders of the Ministry of Environment and Waters for the status of our reserves.
The refusal of the Ministry of Interior to fulfill its duties and instead, the number of illegal boats increasing by two is a clear demonstration that the mafia invasion of Bulgaria from the early 90’s is returning! The Burgas Regional Governor did not even lift a finger to show interest in what happens in Ropotamo, though this was not a question of mafia occupation of Bulgarian state territory, but a question of Crimea being occupied by Putin.
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