Wiretap Scandal Shows Bulgaria Govt Impotence - 'Archenemy'

Domestic | January 27, 2011, Thursday // 15:06|  views

Aleksei Petrov is one of the most controversial and mysterious figures of Bulgaria's transition - a former undercover agent, who amassed a fortune, he is now an alleged ringleader of a crime group. Photo by BGNES

Aleksei Petrov, a controversial figure described by many as the prime minister's biggest enemy, has said the ongoing wiretap scandal, which rocked the government, only reveals its professional and political impotence.

"The people who are directly or indirectly affected by this scandal should do what they can so that it dies down. It is the trust in institutions, which is at stake here," Aleksei Petrov said as he entered the investigative service.

He is currently under house arrest and investigated on organized crime charges following the government's high-profile anti-mafia operation dubbed "Octopus" last year.

"It can turn out that the publishing of the taped phone conversations is a noble deed. It does not matter who exactly is behind it. It is the content of the conversations that matters. There are many facts and information in them and I believe they contain all questions and answers," commented Petrov, who is believed to be closely connected to the tabloid Galeria, which leaked the tapes.

"We talk here about piling pressure on the head of the customs, about smuggling channels, about pocketing billions. This is what matters," Petrov told journalists.

The statement comes a day after Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov got embroiled in another scandal involving taped phone conversations where he is allegedly heard speaking of the need to restore to work a friend of his at Sofia airport.

In what appears to be a new chapter in "Tapegate", a scandal that shook the Bulgarian government in early and mid January, the Bulgarian weekly Galeria published on Wednesday a new, third series of recordings, involving Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov and the Director of the Customs Agency, Vanyo Tanov.

Bulgaria's so-called "spy" scandal was initially triggered by three tapes of discrediting conversations between the Director of the Customs Agency, Vanyo Tanov, and his superiors – Finance Minister Simeon Djankov and Deputy Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov.

The tapes were released earlier this month at a news conference, again held by by the Galeria weekly, a paper believed to be the mouthpiece of Aleksei Petrov.

The notorious businessman, ex-secret agent and suspected crime boss has announced he will run for president in the autumn this year.

Petrov has unclear ties to the notorious Order, Lawfullness and Justice (RZS) party headed by Yane Yanev, and Petrov is expected to become a formal RZS member in the near future.

On the other hand, he has publicly flirted with the idea of starting his own political movement, which could apparently press for a new constitutional arrangement for Bulgaria.

Since being released from detainment October 12, Petrov aka the Tractor/Octopus has intriguingly emerged in the center of political life.

After consulting him, Yanev released allegations against Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov that the latter had unlawfully benefited from his positions by acquiring property.

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