This certainly is not the start of the Bulgaria's Council of the EU presidency that the government was hoping for. First - a mass shooting and murder of six people celebrating New Year's eve, then the murder of a businessman close to the power circles, and just before that shooting at a tax inspector dealing with control over excise taxes. All this is happening in the context of publications in the Western press trashing Bulgaria over corruption and poverty. However, all conspiracy theories that the timing of these crimes is related to the start of our presidency are, to put it mildly, ridiculous.
The reason for these accidents has a different logic and it is related to the genesis of GERB’s cadres. Petar Hristov, who was shot with eight bullets on Monday morning near Bulgaria Mall in the capital, is close to the party's top brass. He was an official sponsor of one of the election campaigns, an advocate of the party in Veliko Tarnovo, close to the Deputy Chairman of GERB Tsvetan Tsvetanov ...
A man that survived the transition
Peter Hristov's biography is a classic example of the so-called businessmen born during the time of Bulgaria's transition from socialist to capitalist economy. He started his business in the early 90's at the Anakonda disco club in the capital. According to him, there he "made various contacts" and started developing his business.
During the era of the widespread racketeering by security groups, he also created a security company, Dito, gravitating around SIC, and rather around Poli Pantev, who was enjoying protection by the group but was an independent player. He signed a security contract with the sugar factories in Gorna Oryahovitsa and stood at the entrance and the exit, selling expensive raw materials and buying cheap products - the so called classic "spider scheme" practiced in those years by structures like the now defunkt Multigroup.
Later on he privatized the plant and resold it. According to the "24 hours" newspaper, at the same time, together with Poli Pantev, he privatized the Dairy processing factory in Veliko Tarnovo and created Laktima, managed to develop the brand of ayrian (yogurt based drink) Balkan and took up nearly 80% of the market.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov explained in front of bTV that he was introduced to Hristov when he started dealing with politics. This was somewhere around 2007. At that time Hristov made an official donation to GERB amounting to 30 000 levs. The media largely covered the merits of Peter Hristov in exposing the Naglite criminal group specialized in kidnappings, at a time when Tsvetanov was the Minister of the Interior. According to him, Hristov was worried that they would seek revenge. "The only worries he shared with me were related to Naglite," Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters.
The other investigative line for the murder of the Tarnovo businessman is related to another criminal plot - the exposure of the Killers hitmen group. There is another Tarnovo connection here and it is related to attorney Georgi Valov convicted of ordering a hit. An investigation into the former head of the Organized Crime Department in Veliko Tarnovo, Orlin Todorov, revealed his close relationship with Hristov. The minutes of the hearings against Todorov show that he turned to Hristov with "boss" when he picked up his cell phone. The enmity between Petar Hristov and the convict Georgi Valov is a public secret in Veliko Tarnovo. The attorney himself often accused him of arranging his trial.
The Killers Group is a crossing point for the death of another man close to GERB in the country - the murder of Rumen Rachev in Shumen. He was shot dead by Petar Vasilev-Sumista on July 3, 2009 in front of the city hospital. Rachev was hired to "resolve" disputes between shareholders of Trakia Bank, which became Rosexim, owned by the late banker Emil Kyulev. The murder took place a few days before the elections, and GERB issued a statement that "[The murder] once again proves the absence of laws and their observance in the country, the complete abdication of the government from the fulfillment of their official duties and their disinterest in providing the Bulgarian citizens with the simplest conditions of security and guarantee for their safety and life." According to GERB at the time "crime is becoming more and more brutal and indiscriminate, and security and tranquility remain only in the ruling coalition's party cabinets."
Otherwise Rachev is better known as the only person charged with the shooting in Druzhba 1 in the capital during the gang war in 1994. At the time he owned the CBR security firm and was known as Rumen Papkata. After that he retired to Shumen and set up an entertainment complex in the village of Divdyadovo and paraded with his acquaintances with mayors and politicians from the area.
Either way, the past of such figures follows them all their lives, and their way of doing business is difficult to change, even if they have moved to the lucid part of economy and politics.
The versions released by the Interior Ministry that Hristov's murder is a consequence of his support in the investigation of Naglite and the Killers, however, are quite manipulative. The two groups have been in prison for a long time and hardly have the potential to carry out such a hit.
It is also important to note that after 2012 the businessman started to win public procurement contracts. "Property Management Group" is the main company of Hristov, which according to its registration data, is owned by his daughter Mihaela. Using this company and his subsidiaries, Hristov was awarded public procurements for over 50 million leva in the last 5 years, the largest of which being for the waste disposal site in Veliko Tarnovo - valued at BGN 33 million.
"Rumors say that if someone wanted to do business from the Danube River to Gorna Oryahovitsa, he had to talk to this guy," said the BSP Deputy chairman Kiril Dobrev on the occasion of Peter Hristov’s murder. His ambitions, however, gradually expanded and went beyond this region. If the geography of the public procurement contracts concluded with Petar Hristov's companies is traced, they initially start in Veliko Tarnovo and Northern Bulgaria, but in the last few years the companies gradually started to conclude contracts in Sofia - the Festival Hall, the renovation of the Winter Palace in Sofia, another sports hall, a rehabilitation procurement in the "Krasna Polyana" municipality ... This reveals the growing appetites of Petar Hristov during the third GERB cabinet.
The people ordering hits of individuals having the biography of Hristov, are very difficult to reveal due to the complex ties and intertwined economic and political interests. The attack against the tax inspector at the end of December and the unclear circumstances surrounding it, as well as the silence after the first statements of the government show that things are not quite clear.
These cases are rather symptomatic of the increasing tensions in the allocation of state financial resources, the complicated ties between politicians, cops and businessmen, and the exacerbated "competition" during GERB's third term. The pessimistic forecast is that these are just the first symptoms of a trend that is yet to develop.
Garnished with the unhealthy security environment - the poor state of the police and the prosecution, it can be expected that the presidency will not be calm after this killer start.