{"title": "Expert: Bulgaria Threatened by 'Big Criminal Business'","content": "
The major problem of Bulgaria is the large-scale criminal business which legalizes its incomes generated during the post-communist transition period.This has been stated by Tihomir Bezlov, expert at the Sofia-based think-tank Center for the Study of Democracy.According to Bezlov, the big business in question is a mixture of “gray, black, and white economy”.“Unfortunately, especially on the local level, there are very powerful businessmen who are literally something like local feudal lords controlling the life of entire regions. Over the last decade, regardless of the political changes, they continue to exert their control,” Bezlov said as quoted by BGNES.In his words, the big question mark now is whether these criminal entrepreneurs will lose their influence or whether they will continue to have decisive control during elections, to “appoint” the local authorities, to “win” public procurement procedures, to abuse EU funds.Bezlov, who is a senior expert at the European Program of the CSD, has stated that the criminal risk was not the major issue resulting from the existing situation. The big problems are the consequences for the economy and the political system.“We cannot have a normal business environment with this type of criminal entrepreneurs,” he believes.Bezlov has pointed out that there were several things happening for the first time in Bulgaria since the new GERB government took over. Those include the charges against former Ministers and high-ranking civil servants. Yet, the big issue is what part of the accusations will be proven. Because during their time in power those committing crime through politics usually adopt flawed legislation – for example, based on collective responsibility and collective signing of documents – which protects them from being sentenced.Bezlov has further pointed out that his impression that the EU institutions in Brussels have a favorable attitude towards the government of Boyko Borisov. Yet, the Bulgarian institutions are plagued by an incompetent bureaucracy protected by the law – making it very hard to fire a civil servant.“There are entire ministries where no decent expert can end up because for years the recruitment has been based on the principal of political quotas,” Bezlov said.