Mafia Games on Bulgaria's Black Sea CoastEditorial |Author: Maria Guineva | September 14, 2011, Wednesday // 09:26| views
The latest scandal shaking Bulgaria's tourist sector, right at the end of an otherwise strong season, left scores of tourists from Russia, Finland and Lithuania stranded at Black Sea airports, after their flights were canceled due to an alleged large debt to carrier Bulgaria Air from operator Alma Tour.
As it is in Bulgaria, the true story of what exactly happened and why will remain as buried as "Bulgarian tourism," according to angry Russian media. All we have are speculations, one of them being that the national carrier might be actually aiming at acquiring Alma Tour and its operations.
The sorry end of the summer 2011 season arrived on the heels of numerous reports of tragic incidents at the country's beach resorts, triggered by improperly functionning pools and binge drinking, of unbearable noise, cheating taxi cabs and wide-spread prostitution while hotel owners are scraping to salvage whatever is left by offering free accommodations now and free vacations next year to the stranded tourists.
It is also unclear who Alma Tours are, but even though everyone knows who is behind Bulgaria Air, somehow the headlines skipped the fact – because it is the almighty TIM, called by former US Ambassador in Sofia, James Pardew "the new leader in Bulgarian organized crime," and the "most modern form of organized crime" by investigative German journalist, Jurgen Roth.
The scandal comes on the heels of the one with the revocation (and reinstatement) of the license of the only oil refinery in the Black Sea city of Burgas, owned by the Russian Lukoil, over its failure to install the mandatory electronic measuring devices. Another former US Ambassador, Jonh Beyrle, wrote that Lukoil was "involved in oil-siphoning scandals and illegal deals," and labeled its CEO, Valentin Zlatev, "an influential kingmaker and behind-the-scenes power broker."
It is obvious that the Bulgarian Sea coast and the entire country are still in the grip of the mafia, ruling from the backstage, making cabinet after cabinet look desperately helpless.
The sad misfortune of Bulgarian tourism is that innocent people and paying customers became hostages of this never-ending game, dimming the last hope of the sector – the enormous, unexplored, and not-so-hard to please Russian market.
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