A recent series of spectacular killings in Bulgaria has people blaming the government for not coming to grips with organized crime. \nTodor Tolev, who owned eight construction and transportation firms, was gunned down on June 16 as he left his office in Sofia. \nIn another incident three days later Kiril Kirov, a Bulgarian known as "the Jap" because his eyes are narrow, and who is believed to be the leader of six drug gangs, narrowly escaped death when a motorcylist shot at his Mercedes car near a school in Sofia. \n"Bulgarians are concerned about wars among gangs carrying out illegal trade and about the increasing number of attacks and killings in public places," Nasko Rafailov, of the parliament's security committee, said. \nPresident Georgi Parvanov told reporters Friday that a crackdown on criminal groups, "especially drug traffickers, is forcing" them into turf battles. \n"This is the explanation for the killings in the underworld," he said. \nPolitical analyst Emil Georgiev said however that "bloody, spectacular incidents are taking place one after the other... because the interior ministry is not working properly." \nGeorgiev said Sofia actually has more police per resident than London. \n"In London there is one policeman for every 230 people while in Sofia there is one policeman for every 100 residents and they still can't maintain law and order," Georgiev said. \nPolitical analyst Evgeni Dainov said Bulgaria's weak government was letting "the ferocious animals in Mercedes... get richer and kill in their fight to win respect." \nThe press said that contraband cigarette dealings and the upcoming privatization of the Bulgarian telecommunications sector were factors in the Tolev killing. \nTolev was a former agent of the communist secret service and had been marketing a telephone for transmitting data. He also had a factory for making illegal cigarettes. \nKirov meanwhile is believed to be close to Ivan Todorov, a former medical student known as "the doctor", who is involved in contraband cigarette dealings. \nTodorov's Mercedes was blown up in a bomb attack on April 18 on one of Sofia's busiest streets but "the doctor," miraculously, survived. \nKonstantin Dimitrov, who sells potatoes but is actually involved in smuggling Marlboro brand cigarettes according to police, survived a bomb attack on his armored jeep on June 1. \nAnd in perhaps the most dramatic attack, Bulgaria's richest man Ilia Pavlov -- owner of the MG corporation which has interests in tourism, energy, and construction -- ?was killed on March 7. \nPavlov, a former wrestler with connections to the communist secret services, had made enemies due to his interests in tourism and energy privatization, the newspaper Trud has reported. \nA recent poll found that 47 percent of the respondents felt organized crime flourished because of protection from politicians. \nRumen Milanov, the director of the government's crime-fighting unit, said that racketeers were adapting to the police crackdowns carried out in the 1990s by becoming legitimate businessmen. "Sometimes illegal activity is carried out under legal cover," he said. \nBut a US diplomat in Sofia said the problem was Bulgaria's legal system. \n"We see a lot of criminal activity and corruption but no one gets punished," the diplomat said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big