COPS & POPS

COPS & POPS

Thu, 05/01/2008 - 14:08

Some analysts suggest the Bulgarian Interior Ministry is a cover for organised crime

Interior Minister Rumen Petkov
Interior Minister Rumen Petkov

Current scandals in the Bulgarian Interior Ministry have confirmed what the ordinary Bulgarian has suspected for years - the close ties between organised crime and those empowered to fight it. The recorded phone conversations of high ranking police officers with members of the mafia, printed in Bulgarian papers recently, showed that not even a thin line exists between the police and the gangsters - they seem to speak the same language.

There have been only superficial changes in the administration and function of the ministry since Communism reigned: the removal of the army ranking of police officers and the renaming of some of its services. Currently, it has more than 50,000 employees and most of its budget pays their salaries; little remains for much needed modernisation and reform. The potential of the ministry has been constantly abused by the ruling party, whatever its colour - political opponents have often been coerced and manipulated, and ministry controlled cross-border smuggling provided secret funding for those in power. The police have been intertwined with organised crime since the coming of democracy. Almost all underworld bosses and “businessmen” who suddenly amassed vast fortunes seemed to originate from or have close links with the ministry and have the protection of those in power.

That is why there is a typical Bulgarian paradox. In Western countries ministries of finance are of vital importance ensuring a country's financial stability and its ability to implement social improvements. In Bulgaria, obviously, the name of the game is power through control of information and influence, rather than social reform. That is why the second-in-command in the ruling Socialist Party (BSP), Rumen Petkov, took control of the Ministry of the Interior. He is considered the man in charge of his party's finances and, according to the Bulgarian political tradition of the last 15 years, those who control information usually direct the movement of money. Not only did Petkov not offer his resignation when the scandal erupted, but his party stood firmly behind him and began negotiations for his political survival with its coalition partners, the Simeon II National Movement (NDSV) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). His survival is important for the ruling socialists as they appear to be steadily losing control. However, it is unrealistic to expect the government to resign over this scandal, as the opposition is disorganised and seems unable to take advantage of the situation and offer a plausible alternative for the disillusioned Bulgarians.

Some observers surmise that Petkov should have resigned a long time ago. At the beginning of his term as interior minister, in 2005, five policemen in Blagoevgrad beat a local gangster to death in the street in broad daylight. Their attack was apparently unprovoked. Theories abound for the reasons behind this murder. They range from dangerous inside knowledge to police protection for a rival gangster who sponsored the Socialist Party. The investigation was inconclusive and the policemen were acquitted, but the predominant feeling that corruption was rife in the police force remained.

“Bulgaria is in deep moral crisis,” commented American Ambassador John Beyrle. It remains to be seen if Bulgarian society has the ability to change. Sceptics claim that life will go on as usual - meaning that the spectre of the Ministry of the Interior will appear behind each scandal in post-Communist Bulgaria.

Issue 20

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

king samuil
IS IT REALLY ABOUT MAKEDONIYA-A-A?
Slavi Trifonov, the showman and crooner credited with propagating chalga culture in Bulgaria, could not have put it more plainly.

communist bulgaria youth
WHAT FEEDS BULGARIAN NOSTALGIA FOR COMMUNISM?
Some years ago the Pew Research Center in Washington DC produced a survey indicating the levels of nostalgia in Bulgaria surpassed by far longing for the past everywhere else in the former East bloc countries. How come?

pro-russia rally bulgaria
IS PUTIN 'WORLD LEADER' OR SADISTIC VILLAIN?
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has polarised public opinion in Bulgaria. In fact, Bulgaria has emerged, since the start of the war in Ukraine, as the only EU state where public support for Putin remains high.

anti ukraine protest bulgaria.jpg
WHY DO SO MANY BULGARIANS SUPPORT PUTIN?
Perhaps surprisingly for a country that was once an enthusiastic applicant to join NATO and the EU Bulgaria is now home to a significant number of people who support... Russia's tyrant Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine.

Satan strategic nuclear-head missile, capable of reaching the island of Manhattan in 20-30 minutes after launch
WHAT BULGARIANS GET WRONG ABOUT WAR IN UKRAINE
Though it has been a member of NATO since 2004 and of the EU since 2007 present-day Bulgaria appears not to be very enthusiastic about any involvement in the war in Ukraine.

king samuil statue bulgaria
BIG MACEDONIAN QUESTION
The "Macedonian Question" is one of those Balkan conundrums that even outsiders with more than just passing knowledge of the history and geography of the region can have trouble understanding.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM BULGARIAN 2-IN-1 ELECTIONS
As the dust settles down after Bulgaria's third attempt in a year to elect a government and as the post-election horse-trading begins, there are several key conclusions to be drawn from Boyko Borisov's dramatic downfall and the emergence of the Changes Cont
REFORMS TO BE CONTINUED?
During 2021 Bulgarians have so far gone to the polls twice, in April and in July. On both occasions the sort of parliament they elected was so split that it failed to form a government.
police brutality bulgaria 2020
BULGARIAN POLITICS
What many Bulgarians have known all along ever since the collapse of Communism – that the police force, formerly known as People's Militia has hardly reformed itself during the past 30 years – became painfully obvious with the broadcast, in the house of par

boyko borisov wanted
BORISOV'S DOWNFALL?
Some analysts were surprised, others were not: the 11 July snap election, called in the wake of the failure of Bulgaria's 45th National Assembly to set up a government, returned more or less the same results.

WHERE TO FROM NOW ON?
The month of June, officially the election campaign month ahead of the early ballot scheduled for 11 July, has been extraordinary even in the standard of Bulgarian politics.
WILL BOYKO BE GONE FOR GOOD?
Following the failure of Bulgaria's "short" parliament, which sat for less than a month, to fulfil its basic constitutional duty, form a functioning government, President Rumen Radev stepped in and appointed a caretaker administration.