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EU-Bound Bulgaria Continues to Impress with its Mafia Killings

May 6, 2005

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- It is in the grips of the mafia, but Bulgaria will nevertheless join the EU in 2007.

Or will it? Brussels has threatened that if it does not clean up its act that accession might be imperiled, reports Reuters in describing the latest affront to civilized society in Bulgaria: the stabbing on Tuesday night of oil executive Yavor Markov while entering his apartment building. The 41-year-old Markov was executive director of Estel Oil Bulgaria.

According to Reuters, “…Minister Georgi Petkanov told news agency BTA that business interests were the most likely motive for the killing. Markov had never been the subject of police investigation.”According to the Sofia News Agency, “…two companies are registered [in] Markov’s name – ‘Estel Oil Bulgaria’ Joint Stock Company and ‘Delta International Trading.’” Not much information is readily available about either, but the first is described as being a “petrol-trading firm.”

Markov does not seem to have been a well known figure abroad. Until the Bulgarian media follows up on this case, there is little else to be said about him.

Over the past several years, such murders have become commonplace, in Sofia as well as in other urban areas of Bulgaria. “There have been efforts to rein them in, but they are still more powerful than the police – or else working together with them,” said one bemused Sofia local. Yet also considering that many foreign car rental agencies refuse to sell insurance only in the case of visiting Bulgaria, it is ironic that it is Serbia and Macedonia that have been stigmatized as dangerous places to live. Unless a war’s on, one is far more likely of getting caught in the crossfire in Bulgaria.

As in Russia, post-Communist popular culture in Bulgaria has developed its own mafia ideals. Media outlets like Planet TV play round-the-clock music videos, almost completely identical, each featuring another sultry, siliconed vixen with one name and well-built young men decked out in suits, sunglasses, and large, American-style vehicles with tinted windows. They’re always wielding mobiles and stirring vaguely alcoholic drinks, and the girls are always puckering and undulating seductively.

The reality- even the imitated reality – is somewhat different, as an experimental visit to Sofia’s Planet Cafe recently showed. The shy young waitress, who like the sirens on TV could have been a model, was accosted by a 40-something year old man who, while he was appropriately dressed in a suit and surrounded by other men also so attired and outfitted with phones, sunglasses and vodka, was somewhat more portly than the svelte young mafiosi in the TV videos.

Failing in his forceful bid to win a kiss from the rather surprised waitress, the man left with his entourage and muttered something like “I will not forget you, baby.” On the way out his comrade packed away the enormous water pipe that had been finding gainful employment under the table.

Big business interests from the leading EU countries are eager to get to work in Bulgaria, and reap fortunes from yet another Eastern European state they’ve taken in. If all goes according to plan, they will soon have their wish. But it just might be more lively than they had anticipated.

 

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