Thu, 04/01/2021 - 11:45

(But no chics for free)


Ahead of the general election scheduled for 4 April, which is expected to generate a record-low turnout owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Boyko Borisov's chief prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, conducted a number of spectacular busts with an obvious potential for publicity. He cracked an alleged ring of spies for Russia, including some senior officials in the Defence Ministry and in various other state agencies. The group, according to the prosecution, sold sensitive military information to Russia – and received payments from the Russian Embassy. It is yet to be seen how the spy ring bust will evolve and whether the evidence gathered by Geshev's associates will hold water in court.

Just before the spies, Geshev's people broke into a printing facility belonging to an university in Sofia to discover the printing machines were used to make... counterfeit US dollar and euro bills. The total amount of the fake money was $4 million and 3.6 million euros respectively.

The chief prosecutor's publicity team trumpeted the action as a major achievement. Ivan Geshev and Ivaylo Ivanov, the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry, had their trophy photo taken in front of the "find."

Initially, the courts remained unconvinced. They said the "bills" were of such a poor quality that they could not possibly be used for any illegal monetary transaction. No attempt had been made to make them look at least partly "genuine" as they were printed on ordinary paper of the sort to be found at stationery shops. For what they were, the "money" could not be considered even an attempted forgery.

The people arrested during the bust were released. It transpired later that they never attempted to conceal they were printing paper money. In actual fact, their business was to supply "dollar bills" and "euro notes" to... fun gift shops to be used at parties and baptism celebrations.

The "prop" money explanation failed to convince the Bulgarian National Bank, however. Its experts inspected the money and said they did not conform to the definition of "stage prop" cash. Though they were printed on printing presses manufactured in 1987 and on paper without any watermarks the bills did resemble real money sufficiently well.

Observers surmised the fake money case had two aspects to it. The perpetrators either failed to print genuine counterfeit money or failed to print real stage prop bills. To put it in another way, the courts will now have to decide between fail and fail. 

Issue 174

Commenting on

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on 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 for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on 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


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

three generations monument
Perushtitsa, now a small and offbeat town rarely visited by tourists, is known to every Bulgarian as the sight of a massacre in the failed April 1876 Uprising against the Ottomans.

gabrovo carnival
Though Dead Souls used to be on the national school curriculum, few latterday Bulgarians, and possibly even fewer English speakers, have actually read it, so here is a short synopsis.

buzludzha night.jpg
The Flying Saucer, which in recent years has become one of the Top 10 world monuments for urbex, or dark tourism, was constructed in the early 1980s. It was designed to celebrate the Bulgarian Communist Party, in control of this country from 1944 to 1989.

lz airplane
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.