Bulgaria's Ex President Secured Citizenship for Russian Businessman's Wife

Domestic | April 3, 2012, Tuesday // 15:23|  views

Controversial Russian businessman Denis Ershov. Photo by money.bg

Bulgaria's ex President Georgi Parvanov has been instrumental in granting Bulgarian citizenship to the wife of Denis Ershov, a notorious Russian businessman often alleged to be involved in criminal activities.

This has been reported by the private Bulgarian news agency BGNES, which cites its own sources as revealing that Parvanov pressured ex Culture Minister Stefan Danailov to propose granting citizenship to Elena Ershova for "contributions to Bulgarian culture".

Denis Ershov is known for being expelled from Bulgaria in 2000 by the National Protection Service under the right-wing government of Ivan Kostov as a "national security threat, together with Michael Chorny, and three other Russian businessmen. Subsequently, Ershov appealed the decree, won the court battle, and has been allowed back into Bulgaria since 2004.

BGNES reports that Bulgaria's ex Vice President Angel Marin – who is revealed to have made highly questionable decisions on the pardoning of felons and the granting of Bulgarian citizenship, now that Parvanov and he completed their terms in the Presidency in January 2012 – granted citizenship to Ershov's third wife in February 2010.

This was motivated by a proposal by Bulgaria's ex Culture Minister Danailov made a month before the end of the term of the three-way coalition government of PM Sergey Stanishev, in May 2009, which justifies the request by pointing out several donations made by Ershova.

Danailov declared that "the public activity of Mrs. Ershova has been permanently designed to promote Bulgarian culture", and that she is committed to a prolonged, "extreme and altruistic material support" for Bulgarian cultural organizations.

The paperwork mentions three donations in particular made at roughly the same time in the spring of 2009 by Elena Ershova amounting to a total of BGN 70 000: a BGN 22 000 donation to the Bulgarian National Theater "Ivan Vazov", a BGN 28 000 donation to the same institution; and a BGN 20 000 donation for the Russian tour of a Bulgarian folklore formation during the Days of Bulgaria in Russia in 2009.

The report underscores the obvious meager number of documents and, respectively, donations that were used to justify the request for granting Bulgarian citizenship to Ershova.

"Mrs. Elena Ershova will be a worthy member of our society and will be proud to call herself Bulgarian," Danailov concluded in his citizenship proposal.

BGNES reminds that Ershov's name has been tangled in various scandals in Bulgaria, with descriptions for him ranging from a "decent businessman" to a "Russian mafioso".

The 45-year-old Russian, who is also a citizen of Lithuania, was born in Chelyabinsk. He has a degree in oil extraction engineering but after the end of the communist period has been involved in private business activities, primarily with oil trade.

In the early 1990s, he set up Petrol Holding in Bulgaria together with his Bulgarian associate Mitko Sabev, with whom he is at odds at present after a scandal over the management of the company.

Years after he was allowed to enter Bulgaria in 2004, Ershov claimed the ban was part of a plot against him.

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Tags: Elena Ershova, Bulgarian citizenship, Culture Minister, Stefan Danailov, Angel Marin, Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov, Russian, Denis Ershov, Petrol Holding, Mitko Sabev


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