2011-03-19 Bulgarian "Criminal Radiation" Leaks from Unedited Wikileaks Cable

Parvanov Toshev Bozhkov

From left to right: Bulgarian president Gueorgui Parvanov, Former editor in chief of the Trud daily newspaper Tosho Toshev, Vassil Bozhkov - a controversial businessman

In June 2003, the Bulgarian weekly Kapital published an article about the privatization of "Atomenergoremont" - the Bulgarian State-owned company, (the only one), maintaining the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. Under the suggestive title "Criminal Radiation," it exposed the main competing candidates: Vasil Bozhkov Aka "The Scull" and Konstantin Dimitrov AKA "Samokovetza,” both known as controversial figures, suspected of criminal activities.

Just a few months later, Konstantin Dimitrov Samokovetza was shot dead in Amsterdam by a contract killer. As for Atomenergoremont, it was sold to the "Bulgarian Energy Company" owned by Hristo Kovachki, the next controversial businessman, who is currently on bail over accusations of tax evasion.

However, the Wikileaks unedited cable recently revealed that James Pardew, the American ambassador to Sofia at the time, wrote in 2005 that Vasil Bozhkov "is believed to control “Risk Engineering,” another key firm in the Bulgarian nuclear business. On the other hand, Ambassador Pardew also reported that Bozhkov is considered to be the ringleader of an organized crime group. "Bozhkov's illegal activities include money laundering, privatization fraud, intimidation, extortion and racketeering," the cable notes.

The official Director of "Risk Engineering" is Bogomil Mantchev, who is also the head of the "Bulgarian Atomic Forum," an organization actively lobbying for the construction of a second NPP in another Danube town - Belene, using Russian technology.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Belene NPP became the focus of attention of Bulgarian and European media. The plant will be built in a seismically dangerous zone, ecologists alert.

As many experts have pointed out, the Belene NPP is not economically sound. The German investor RWE withdrew from participation in the project. However, the project will expand the Russian economic influence in the European Union and for this reason Russia has stated its readiness to finance it alone. This was also implied by the comment made by the Russian NATO representative Rogozin, who said that "Bulgaria will be Russia’s Trojan Horse in Europe."

In 2009, another American Ambassador to Sofia - Nancy McEldowney, reported in a cable that "Vested interests -- the current BSP-led government, NEC, well-connected politicians. Bulgarian energy oligarchs and Russian investors keep pushing the project."

"We should encourage the next government to quickly begin its due-diligence on the project; stressing the importance of meeting all international safety and quality assurance standards, and bringing in the IAEA and the EU’s European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) to perform an on-site inspection." – McEldowney concluded.

But the next government, elected in 2009 with Boyko Borissov as Prime Minister continues to push the project, trying to obtain better price from the Russians.

Talks between "Rosatom" and the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy are ongoing. And another “bomb” made the headlines yesterday. Deputy Minister Mariy Kosev told the press that in February, in Moscow, the man known as the "Bulgarian Oil Oligarch," Valentin Zlatev, participated in the talks.

Zlatev is the owner of the "Lukoil Bulgaria" refinery plant. He was not representing the Bulgarian officials, Kosev said and the reason for Zlatev’s presence at the otherwise very secretive talks remains unclear.

Valentin Zlatev is also known to be close to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. At the end of the 90-s, just after "Lukoil" purchased the refinery plant, the IPON company, owned by Borissov, was assigned with providing security for all Lukoil pipelines in Bulgaria– a major deal and source of revenue for years to come.

However, according to the unedited cable about organized crime in Bulgaria, Lukoil's activities are not limited to oil refinery. As Ambassador Pardew wrote: "LUKOIL’s representative in Bulgaria is VALENTIN ZLATEV. The Russian petroleum company is estimated to be the largest corporate taxpayer in Bulgaria. It also controls Russian oil exports to Bulgaria. Lukoil's Bulgarian operations, through Zlatev, are suspected of strong ties to Russian intelligence and organized crime."

Nuclear business, Russian intelligence, organized crime... what a radioactive combination, leaking from a single cable!

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer