Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva decided to “invest” 1.2 million levs in “hunting tourism” or rather in the comfort of the directors of the four large State forest enterprises. We have written a lot (see here and here) about the scams of one of them – Peycho Varbanov – more popular with his codename as agent of the communist secret services – Agent “Forest”.

I will not comment on the revelation that the luxury SUVs are supplied to the Agriculture Ministry by a classmate of Minister Taneva. The money the State will spend investing in the comfort of the directors equals four annual budgets of all national nature parks in Bulgaria. This is a fact that does not even need to be commented on as it tells all.

While the Ministry of Agriculture is shopping for the third in a row super luxury vehicle for Peycho Varbanov (the previous two were Toyota Land Cruiser V8 for about 200,000 levs and a WV Touareg), the car of the legendary forest ranger Husain Shakirov has been smashed. He had been “warned” last week with an attack on his personal “Ford Focus”. The car has been left at a repair shop in the Sliven district “Klutsohor”. One week later, Shakirov found it with broken windows, torn off strips, scratched and without fenders. The next day, the forest ranger established that the rear tires of his office SUV have been slashed though it was kept at a parking lot with an attendant.

Пейчо Върбанов – Агент Гора, любимец на всяка власт

The conclusion is simple. Those who take dubious politicians hunting are rewarded with a new luxury SUV. Those who fight with poachers find their old and modest personal vehicle destroyed. The parallel is symbolic and shows the specific parameters of the model #WHO!

Shakirov told Bivol: “First my personal car was damaged. I did not expect that they will have the guts to go to an attended parking lot and slash the brand new tires of my office car.

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Bivol: Are there any security cameras tapes?

HSH: No, the parking lot does not have a camera and the one in front of the repair shop shows only silhouettes.

Bivol: Do you suspect who is behind these actions?

HSH: The timber mafia. We hurt too many interests. I will not quote names, as I do not want to be sued for libel, but only today we detained 42 cubic meters of illegally felled timber.

Bivol: Some time ago you had an incident in Byala Palanka?

HSH: Yes, there we not only proved that they were transporting undocumented timber, but that this was theft. The company is powerful in this area; it is of the Muslim political party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). After us, another forest ranger attempted to legitimize this timber by marking it after the felling. But we had included the Deputy Director of the Forestry in our action and managed to prevent the sweeping of the irregularities under the rug. They tried to prove that the timber was not illegally cut, but only illegally transported. Then the forest ranger came up with the story that someone stole his marking stamp for one day and then returned it without him noticing.

Bivol: And how did it happen that you had to stop trucks there by shooting?

HSH: We received a tipoff that in Byala Palanka this company was doing whatever it pleases. They alerted us that its trucks were going into the woods, but I was 40 kilometers away, in the hills. I asked a colleague from the region to do everything possible to stop the vehicles with illegal timber. The colleague stopped the Kamaz, but the brother of the regional coordinator of MRF in the area and the company owner, who is his first cousin, attacked him with fists and kicks. The colleague pulled out his service weapon and fired in the air. The company owners got scared and fled. When I arrived at the location, I called the 112 emergency hotline. These same people “sacked” me in Tvarditsa four years ago. Later, we intercepted a second Kamaz, belonging to the same company, found where the logs were unloaded and seized them. This was timber for sawing. Then we went to the forest and established that it has been cut illegally.

Husain Shakirov has become the symbol of the fight against the timber mafia. He is the forest ranger who sent us a tipoff and then we published our investigation in the illegal extraction of radioactive rocks from the dumps of the uranium mines in Tvarditsa (see here). Shakirov and his colleagues Georgi Donchev and Iliya Ikov (see more on them here) are among the few forestry employees who openly opposed the Director of Southeast forestry enterprise – Peycho Varbanov. This is just another attack on Shakirov, however, he and his colleagues are adamant that their actions against poachers will not stop, on the contrary!

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