US Denied Visas to Scores of Affluent Bulgarians - Report

Diplomacy | March 23, 2011, Wednesday // 11:18|  views

The building of the American Embassy in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. File photo

The US Embassy in Sofia has rejected visa requests of high-ranking representatives of Bulgarian State institutions, security services, and influential businessmen.

Last week, the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks published the uncensored cable the then US Ambassador to Sofia James Pardew, had written in July 2005, listing a number of names of well-known Bulgarian personalities over their involvement in organized crime.

Almost everyone on this list has been denied a US visa, the Bulgarian daily 24 Chasa (24 Hours) writes Wednesday.

In addition to these names, according to the publication, Constitutional Judge, Georgi Petkanov, has been advises as early as the time he served as Interior Minister in the cabinet of former Tsar, Simenon Saxe-Coburg, to not apply for a US visa since it would be denied. The reason for the move remains unclear, the daily points out.

The Deputy Director of the State Agency for National Security, DANS, Ivan Drashkov, had obtained only a travel visa. Drashkov is quoted telling 24 Chasa he never had any issues with the US, maintains daily contacts with their diplomats, and had traveled to the US twice precisely during Pardew's term to meet with CIA employees.

Visas have been denied for the Member of the European Parliament from the far-right, nationalist Ataka party, Slavi Binev, the notorious and controversial businessman and former DANS employee, Aleksei Petrov, businessman Hristo Kovachki, currently charged with large-scale tax evasion, Dimitar Dzhamov, Rumen Gaytanski, Plamen Timev, Vasil Bozhkov, Valentin Zlatev, Petar Mandzhukov, Dobromir Gushterov, Grisha Ganchev, and others (all listed in Ambassador Pardew's cable).

Former Member of the Parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Dobromir Gushterov told the daily he would comment on old events whose interpretation is filled with factual mistakes.

"I never applied for a visa, but a CEO of mine had been recently denied one on the grounds he had worked for me," Gushterov says.

Businessman, Nikolay Banev, admits he has been denied US entry about 8 years ago while the CEO of Lukoil Bulgaria, Valentin Zlatev, informs he never had problems with obtaining a visa and had traveled to the US on numerous occasions.

The US visa of another former Interior Minister, Rumen Petkov, had been annulled under article 212 (а)(2) from the Immigration Act, on suspicions of involvement in illegal drugs trade, 24 Chasa writes.

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Tags: Wikileaks, Bulgaria, James Pardew, organized crime, US visa, US Embassy, Slavi Binev, DANS, Aleksei Petrov, Hristo Kovachki, Dimitar Dzhamov, Rumen Gaytanski, Plamen Timev, Vasil Bozhkov, Valentin Zlatev, Petar Mandzhukov, Dobromir Gushterov, Grisha Ganchev, Rumen Petkov, Ivan Drashkov, Georgi Petkanov


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