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Bulgaria

Yearbook 2008

2008 BulgariaBulgaria. The European Commission continued to criticize Bulgaria for its lack of action against corruption and organized crime. A new corruption legacy was unveiled in March when the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry's Department for Combating Organized Crime, Ivan Ivanov, was arrested for suspected conspiracy with the mafia. Ivanov was prosecuted for revealing secret investigations and for abuse of power. Two senior police officers were also arrested in this case.

In early April, two contract killings were carried out in the course of a day. The victims were a writer who wrote about the mafia and a highly regarded representative of the business community. The European Commission issued a sharp statement on immediate measures to combat organized crime. Shortly thereafter, a Bulgarian parliamentary inquiry accused members of the government of involvement in illegal activities, including drug trafficking. A few days later, Interior Minister Rumen Petkov resigned, admitting that he had met with mafia leaders and that he had failed in the task of combating organized crime.

2008 Bulgaria

According to Countryaah reports, Prime Minister Sergei Stanisev then fired three other ministers, including the Minister of Defense. In addition, Stanisev established a new Deputy Prime Minister's post responsible for EU aid, a result of the EU Commission's criticism of lack of transparency in how EU funds are used.

But in spite of the government's efforts, the European Commission in July decided to freeze all EU support for the country. This meant a loss of around EUR 500 million. The basis was a report that corruption and crime increased, rather than diminished, since Bulgaria became an EU member in 2007. In November, the EU decided that Bulgaria finally lost the right to EUR 220 million, as guarantees were lacking that the money would not go wrong pockets. Such a measure had never been taken before a Member State.

Bulgaria and Russia signed an agreement at the beginning of the year on a new gas pipeline, South Stream, to allow Russian gas exports directly to Europe. The 90-mile pipeline - a joint project between Russian Gazprom and the Italian energy group ENI - will be drawn under the Black Sea and in B. divide into two branches, one north and one south. According to the agreement, Russia and Bulgaria own half of the part of the system that goes through Bulgaria.

The parties also signed an agreement for Russia to build Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, in Belene. This will compensate for the failure of the Kozloduj nuclear power plant, where Bulgaria, as a condition of EU membership, was forced to shut down four of six reactors. Construction started during the year.

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