On May 12, London Times published an article about Bulgaria titled EU prepares to embrace a land of greed, killing and corruption (author Anthony Browne). You can read it at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2176371,00.html. I originally learned about this from Netinfo in Bulgarian, but the Bulgarian page seems to have expired, at least I can't find it now. Here are some citations from the article:
"NEVENA LUBENOVA was lying on her couch in the small hours when the bomb blew in the front door of her flat, throwing her across the room, knocking down walls and smashing windows over seven storeys of the decrepit Soviet-style block...
The bomb was intended for her son, Vassil Ivanov, a chain-smoking investigative journalist for Nova TV who has exposed corruption in Bulgaria...
Asked whether he thinks the police will catch the perpetrators, he laughs wearily. “No.”
The power of organised crime in Bulgaria is finally beginning to alarm the European Union only seven months before the former communist state and its neighbour, Romania, are due to join.
Since 2001, 150 people have died in daylight killings in Sofia, the capital...But despite the blizzard of contract killings — which cost £30,000 each — no one has been jailed.
The Government is widely suspected of turning a blind eye to organised crime, which holds sway over the country’s political, business and judicial systems...
Corruption is widespread in Bulgaria, a country so poor that donkeys pulling carts still wander around the capital and average incomes in the countryside are £100 a month...
John Menzies, chairman of the Canadian mining firm EurOmax, learnt about organised crime when he upset a Bulgarian rival by winning a licence to prospect for gold.
The rival organised and financed violent protests. EurOmax’s site was occupied and its equipment sabotaged under the eyes of local police. Mr Menzies was told that he would be beaten to death with hammers. “It is an incredibly confrontational society,” he said.
He now warns other international investors to be wary. “This is a risky place for foreign investment. Every foreign investor has had the same experience — it’s universal.”
The Government insists that it is clamping down. Ivailo Kalfin, the Foreign Minister, said: “We do have a problem, but it’s not a problem that makes Bulgaria very different from other EU countries. We are fighting it.”
But Klaus Jensen, a German investigator sent by the EU to assess Bulgaria’s fitness to join, came away shocked at the Government’s complacency, declaring. “They believed they would get into the EU anyway, and I encountered a ‘kiss my ass’ attitude,” he said.
The irony is that EU membership could boost Bulgarian corruption rathen than combat it..."