Park Strandza: Yordan Tsonev and Kalin Tiholov – Property Scams with Appropriated Lands

by Екип на Биволъ

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One of the properties in Park Strandza privatized by Member of the Parliament from Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) Yordan Tsonev

In 2001, people keen on appropriating state and municipal lands within the boundaries of Park Strandza, through certificates of inheritance, launched a true invasion of the municipality of Tsarevo. The father-in-law of Yordan Tsonev – Georgi Nikolov Yakimov was among them. Tsonev is a fixture MP from 1997 until today – former member of the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), and now Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Group of DPS, and as such – Head of the Budget and Finance Committee. The same is known in Burgas as a croupier in the past, and later as owner of a chain of currency exchange bureaus. He is popular with the nickname The Fraud. The current DPS politician’s name is notoriously inglorious since the term of the government of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, when Yordan Tsonev led the regional branch of UDF, while Ventsislav Chamurdzhiev headed the municipal one. Along with the infamous Anton Petrov nicknamed Kabata (The Fat in Turkish – editor’s note) the three were the embodiment of the “Blue” party in the region. The archives (though scarce online at the time) still keep memories of these dark times.

The property scenario for the coast south of Tsarevo was this: inheritors, seeing themselves as owners of lucrative waterfront plots, attacked lands for which there were no property applications by real heirs and which, under the law, should have become municipal property. Many of them managed to obtain a decision from the Land Commission to take possession of dozens of decares near Rezovo and Varvara.

The municipality, however, filed identical cases in the District Court in Tsarevo and won them because the magistrates actually established that the land plots were acquired illegally. The properties of Tsonev’s father-in-law were also returned back to the municipality due to the court’s rule. The defense counsel of Tsarevo Municipality clearly defined and supported by documents the assertion that no legal heirs or the state have claimed ownership of the properties that were suddenly given by the Land Commission to emerging contenders without ownership documents.

Meanwhile, the rulers in Tsarevo changed and “red” (socialist – editor’s note) leader Petko Arnaudov was elected mayor. He immediately removed the municipality’s attorney, Evgeni Atanasov, who led and won the lawsuits against the cheaters with rigged documents. Arnaudov replaced him with a loyal functionary of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Evgeni Mosinov.

Shortly after these reshuffles, Yordan Tsonev’s relatives and the other individuals keen on appealing the decision of the court in Tsarevo before the higher instance – the District Court of Burgas, began acting in synchrony. It is known that the implicit leader of this group was precisely the politician who had already evolved into one of the people closest to Ahmed Dogan (now honorary lifetime chairman of DPS – editor’s note). Suddenly, lawyers representing the municipality as claimant became disinterested in these cases; started to not attend meetings; to miss deadlines and ultimately the contenders with rigged documents won and became owners of the “golden” lands along the coast. People familiar with the case told Bivol that the appeals and the loss of these very clean-cut court cases, involving lands in the Park, were not just owners’ luck. “If one analyzes the sequence of events, the analysis will probably show that these cases were lost on purpose,” said a magistrate from Burgas, but added that there isn’t anyone now to hold Arnaudov and Mosinov responsible. Especially from the four currently parliamentary represented parties that invariably protect property scams.

The history of ownership, which can be tracked through the Property Registry, shows that the desire to privatize these meadows and fields had a clear motivation: to build on them. Part of the lands, through donations and simulated deals with proxies, became property of the infamous architect Kalin Tiholov – leading character in the affair Dunes Gate, involving construction on sands near Nessebar, which Bivol exposed at the end of 2012. It is hardly surprising that this particular person was nominated by the government of BSP and DPS to lead the new Ministry of Investment Planning. This institution placed under one management all investments and territorial development plans of the entire country, i.e. “brought the whole scam together.” Tiholov is also the author of the general development plan of Tsarevo which gives green light to mass construction on protected coastline, including the above-mentioned lands.

Another portion of the lands went to Yordan Tsonev’s best man – Milcho Kiryakov. Kiryakov is Tsonev’s “right hand,” his business partner and partner of Kalin Tiholov as well. He was the one buying in mass and then selling lands from the Park’s to Yordan Tsonev’s wife – Proletina. This extremely complex property game also includes companies controlled by Tsonev, Kiryakov and Tiholov.

In 2010, information that prosecutors were investigating a massive fraudulent scheme with land registers and certificates of inheritance made headlines news. These were the exact same cases that underwent a sudden and damaging reversal for Tsarevo’s municipality, “expertly” defended in court by Evgeni Mosinov. A lawsuit against an unknown perpetrator, under Article 308 of the Penal Code, was filed – for forging official documents, which in popular language means fakes. We should recall here that a close look at the professional biographies of Tiholov and Mosinov shows a strange pattern of both adhering to same general perimeters of action on the Black Sea coast – from the municipality of Nessebar slowly descending south to Rezovo, leaving behind only devastated shores converted into concrete ghettos for low-end tourists.

Three years later, the perpetrator remains unknown to the Prosecutor’s Office, although it is crystal clear who took advantage. This should not be a very difficult question for Chief Prosecutor Tsatsarov to answer as his office seized all documents from the large-scale forgery.

The legal “mastermind” behind the deal – Evgeni Mosinov – is now a trusted person of Stanishev in Burgas and leader of the local party branch. Precisely Burgas’ organization nominated Sergei Stanishev to lead the party ballot in the European elections. This is the same Stanishev who hypocritically pledges to defend Strandza with all resources of his party. When Burhan Abazov was appointed Deputy Minister, it became obvious how BSP intends to defend Strandza. His signature appears underneath illegal sales of state forests and lands in Strandza. The liquidator of the Park, former mayor Petko Arnaudov, was appointed head of the municipal forestry in Tsarevo – to guard the forests the same way he dealt with the Park! These two characters, who in the summer of 2007 managed to close Strandza Nature Park because of criminal construction masterminded by them, were not punished and progressed with Stanishev’s blessing. The priceless contribution of the two liquidators of Park Strandza to the sparking of the first mass civil protests on Eagles’ Bridge 7 years ago cannot be denied either – the protests were forerunners of the current social intolerance to similar oligarchic forms of governing the country. After all these years, the same things are happening. There is still the doom of the vicious circle in whose destructive orbit we are pulled by the same sinister shadows of the political twilight zone. Obviously, Mosinov’s role as a faithful party member has been assessed on merit, because a few months ago he rose to the top position of head of BSP in Burgas. Stanishev’s care about Strandzha is also evident from the forceful dismissal of the Director of Park Strandza Stefan Zlatarov, who “earned the pink slip” for his unwavering stance over the years against crimes of people in power and arbitrary acts against nature and the laws of the country. The cynicism and the absurd of such political demagogy could be compared to appointing the sinister Dr. Mengele to lead the healthcare of Israel after World War II!

Bivol, in turn, is working on unraveling the network of dealings, in which, similarly to Dunes Gate, interests of leading DPS politician Yordan Tsonev and architect Kalin Tiholov, whose protégé Ivan Danov succeeded him as minister, intertwine. In fact, if Bivol had not made revelations earlier, Tiholov would be now minister and would be directly, together with Tsonev, in obvious conflict of interest as creator of the general development plan, owner of lucrative lands slated for construction, and empowered to put his personal signature under Strandzha’s destruction.

Expect a detailed investigation of all dealings of Tsonev and Tiholov in Park Strandza.

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Yordan Tsonev (Bulphoto)

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