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Bulgarian report Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-11-11 09:18:32
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Standoff in Bulgaria with organized crime

When Bulgaria’s burly new prime minister, Boyko Borisov, took office, he pledged to stamp out organized crime. But the man nicknamed Batman is now being tested by a weak judiciary that this month acquitted two men suspected of leading their own street enforcement gang and freed from jail a man accused of being a crime boss. Zlatomir (The Beret) Ivanov, a heavily tattooed man in his late 30s who is charged with murder and drug trafficking, was released by the Sofia Court of Appeals last week and put under house arrest after he complained about stress and a urinary infection following surgery. Then on Wednesday, a judge canceled his trial and scheduled a new one after a juror was arrested for distributing child pornography.

It was the latest in a string of acquittals and lenient treatment of people accused of organized-crime offenses in a nation that vowed to root out corruption to earn membership in the European Union in 2007. The cases have become a battleground between the executive branch of government and the judiciary, which have failed to convict a single prominent organized-crime suspect.  The murky underworld of mutri — or Bulgarian gangsters or mugs — is also getting restive. Two Bulgarian newspapers reported this week that a criminal gang had issued a €400,000, or about $550,000, bounty for the assassination of the prime minister, whose security was tightened. The emergence of threats against the prime minister, came just a few days after a regional court in Kyustendil acquitted two businessmen, Plamen Galev, 42, and Angel Hristov, 41, who have been accused of leading a violent criminal group that engaged in fraud, racketeering and blackmail. The case had been closely watched by E.U. authorities and the prime minister, who publicly called it a test for the nation.

The two men are former police officers who are commonly referred to as the Galev Brothers. It is a name that inspired a new Bulgarian word — Galevizatsia — which means the ability of criminals to act with impunity and to manipulate Bulgarian state, political, municipal and judicial institutions. Mr. Galev and Mr. Hristov are businessmen and landlords who dominate the town of about 44,000 in Dupnitsa, nicknamed Galevgrad for the two partners. The town lies at the foot of the Rila mountains, about 70 kilometers, or 45 miles, south of the capital, Sofia, in western Bulgaria. There the two men have acted as advisers to the mayor and run a string of businesses in construction, waste collection, trucking and gambling. The pair gained notoriety in 2008 when the interior minister at the time, Rumen Petkov, admitted he met secretly with them. Vanyo Tanov, former head of the anti-organized-crime police and now director of Bulgarian customs, accused Mr. Petkov of helping the two protect what he said was a methamphetamine-trafficking business. Mr. Petkov resigned, but now is a member of Parliament.

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Bulgarian parliament adopts first reading of NHIF budget for 2011


The Bulgarian parliament has adopted the first reading of the bill on the 2011 budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), FOCUS News Agency reports. The bill was supported by 120 MPs, while 44 people opposed it. Nobody abstained.

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Bulgaria's ruling party drops 'luxury tax' proposal


Members of Parliament from Bulgaria's ruling party have declared that so called luxury tax on properties will not be introduced, the private Bulgarian television channel bTV reported on November 10 2010. The proposed higher levies on luxury properties were eventually scrapped late on November 9 several months after they were first mooted. Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov was also present at the meeting.

As initially conceived, the tax was supposed to apply to properties with an above average tax assessment for their respective municipality. The last formulation of the amendment stipulated that higher levies should be imposed on all properties which, following appraisal, were deemed to be worth more than 300 000 leva. But after three weeks of debates, the plan was scrapped and now the matter is back where it started, at its original version since Spring 2010.

According to the report, after repeated debates it was decided that in the event of the new tax being implemented, the fiscal effect of the measure would be next to minimal, so it would be useless to proceed. The current high tax rate for some luxury or faster cars will remain, however. The municipalities are in charge of determining the amount of the tax, the report said.


      
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