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Vol 3, No 5
5 February 2001
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Bulgaria News Review News from Bulgaria
All the important news
since 27 January 2001

Matilda Nahabedian


Girl shot by police officer in Sofia

A 16-year-old girl was shot dead in Sofia by a drunken police officer on Tuesday. The victim, Eleonora Dimitrova, was shot in the back outside a restaurant in Central Sofia and died in hospital. She had been in a restaurant with her boyfriend. The two were on their way home shortly after midnight when a gunshot killed the schoolgirl in front of her boyfriend's car.

First Lieutenant of Sofia's Police Precinct 6, Kalin Kissyov (age 33) has confessed his guilt. He had been at a bar near the restaurant where Dimitrova had been with her boyfriend. He picked a fight with another visitor and the two went outside to settle the matter. This is when Kissyov fired his gun "into the air," said a spokesperson at the Sofia Directorate of the Interior. Kissyov was not immediately aware that he had shot somebody and learnt what had happened only the next day. He was drunk at the time of the incident. He made a full confession upon arrest.

In the middle of a wave of crime, this murder shocked Bulgarians even before the killer was identified. Several businessmen of ill-repute were also killed recently and the chief of the parliamentary foreign policy committee was attacked near his home in central Sofia while walking his dog.


Political opposition reacts

The opposition Socialist Party said Interior Minister Emanouil Yordanov should step down following Dimitrova's death. Yordanov said that a reshuffling in his Ministry was in the works, after a late night meeting on Tuesday of the MPs of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF). He also said that there would be more police patrols in the street to secure public order.

Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and National Assembly Chairman Yordan Sokolov said that ruling UDF MPs and the Government would back all proposed changes in the Interior Ministry and measures to fight crime. Kostov set a deadline of Friday for the Interior Ministry leadership to come up with emergency counter-crime measures. Both the Prime Minister and the President made official statements to voice their concern over the escalation of crime in the country.


National director of police not responsible

The National Director of Police, General Vasil Vasilev, resigned from his post shortly after the killing of Dimitrova, however President Petar Stoyanov and Interior Minister Yordanov agreed that no staff changes should be made and refused to accept the resignation. President Stoyanov said that Vasilev should not serve as a scapegoat for recent criminal activities.
The two largest forces in the opposition, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) (which protects the interests of the ethnic Turks) lodged a vote of no-confidence in the cabinet. However, it remains unclear as to whether such a move is legal. Parliamentary elections are due in June.

DPS Chairman Ahmed Dogan told journalists 1 February that the crime-related problems in the country justified a no-confidence vote. Next week, after consulting with the other parliamentary forces, he said a vote of no-confidence vote would be made. Later, Bulgarian Socialist Party Chairman Georgi Purvanov said that the Socialists would support this motion. Both parties are convinced that the recent surge in crime is exclusively the responsibility of the government. On Tuesday 6 February next week the Parliament will hold a meeting on crime and Prime Minister Kostov and Interior Minister Yordanov are expected to speak in front of the MPs.


Otto Schilly says Germany will drop visa requirement

Germany will remove visa requirements for Bulgarians, German Interior Minister Otto Schilly said in an interview with the Bulgarian-language service of Radio Deutsche Welle on Thursday. He would not set a deadline but said it would happen within several weeks.

The EU Justice/Home Affairs Council decided to remove Bulgaria from the EU visa blacklist late last year but the enactment of the decision is contingent on a confirmation from the EU Council of Ministers. Schilly did not think that Germany has anything to fear regarding crime in Germany from Bulgaria after the removal of visa restrictions. If there were fears, Germany simply would not have taken the decision to remove the visas, he said. He also said they have no fears that the number of Bulgarian immigrants to Germany would grow out of proportion. "I believe that Bulgaria has made serious efforts to introduce order and we appreciate it," he said.


And in other news...

  • Rila Solutions, a high-tech company registered in Bulgaria, said on Thursday it had won a partnership deal with Microsoft Corporation. "Microsoft has named Rila a 'Gold Certified Partner' in e-commerce," Rila vice president and head of its Bulgarian operations Miroslav Iliev told Reuters. "This is the first case of a company in Central and Eastern Europe being awarded such a partnership," he said. Microsoft's office in Bulgaria later confirmed the move, saying the decision was made three weeks ago.
  • The "Gold Certified" rating includes companies that have proven their expertise in a certain area when delivering Microsoft technologies. Rila is the only company in the region, which has worked as subcontractor for developing Microsoft's Windows 2000. At present Rila is also working on joint projects with Microsoft, Iliev said, but he declined to give any further details. Rila, set up in 1998, is an Internet and wireless solution company that works only for clients in the West.
  • LUKOIL, Russia's biggest oil company, said on Thursday it was planning to expand into the Balkan states and Eastern Europe, partially because it needed more markets for its Bulgarian arm, LUKOIL Neftochim. Vice President Ralif Safin told a news conference in Sofia that LUKOIL was talking about buying "big networks" of filling stations in the neighbouring countries of Greece, Turkey and Macedonia. "We would have liked to buy them already," he said. "Talks continue."
    Safin also said that LUKOIL was eyeing several petrochemical plants in the former Communist bloc countries. "It could be Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic or Romania," he said. LUKOIL was also interested in firms being privatised in Yugoslavia, Safin said without elaborating. He did not name any firms.
  • Bulgaria is among the few European countries who are yet to report cases of mad cow disease among its livestock or of its human variant, known as the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the Health Ministry said in connection with press reports claiming that a case of CJD was diagnosed at the St Marina Hospital in Varna.
    The Ministry has checked the case and said that the patient has a disease other than CJD which has been diagnosed by leading neurologists using state-of-the-art equipment. The successful prevention of the spread of mad cow disease in Bulgaria is due to the effective measures taken by the veterinary authorities back in 1994, which have since been updated by introducing a ban on beef imports from BSE-stricken countries.
  • Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova participated in the 37th annual Munich conference on security policy issues on 2-4 February. The annual forum, first held in 1964, is organized by the Herbert Kwandt Foundation. Minister Mihailova spoke on behalf of the nine candidate states for entry to NATO about the advantages of an enlargement.
  • Juha Kaekkoenen, head of the IMF mission to Bulgaria said that the Bulgarian government should table the new Energy Act in Parliament by mid-March. The IMF also demanded an urgent liberalisation of the electricity and natural gas markets and called for abolition of the monopoly of the country's gas and electricity's distributors. Bulgaria's economic activity and GDP were up by 11 per cent in comparison to 1997 and inflation was finally curbed and 50 per cent of the state-owned companies and 80 per cent of the banking sector were privatised, Mr. Kaekkoenen said. He added that the country's economy would soon register a rapid growth, which would result in a reduction of the unemployment rate. The IMF mission, however, was disappointed with the delay of the privatisation deals of Bulgarbtabac Holding (cigarette company) and the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company.

Matilda Nahabedian, 2 February 2001

Moving on:


RFE/RL's Bulgarian Section


Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Anatomy of a Disaster

Mel Huang
Privatising the Baltics

Jan Čulík
Myths and Politics

Bernhard Seliger
Unemployment in East Germany

Sam Vaknin
The Scourge of Transition

Eva Sobotka
Dzurinda's Mission

Slavko Živanov
Going Down Together

Andrew James Horton
Balabanov's Nationalism

Juras T Ryfa
Forms of Hope

Mel Huang
Vytautas Landsbergis's autobiography

Štěpán Kotrba NEW!
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Andrea Mrozek
Gain and Loss

Oliver Craske
UK: Not Such a Soft Touch, Sadly


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