Bulgarian Border Police Chiefs Quit in Migrant Scandal

Two top border police officials have resigned after а suspected people-smuggler won a public tender to transport migrants to accommodation centres inside the country.

The director of the police border guards, Antonio Angelov, and his deputy Yotko Andreev stepped down on Monday after Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov demanded their resignations.

Bulgaria's new Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and leader of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party 'GERB', speaks during an official ceremony at the Bulgarian Government building in the capital Sofia, Monday, July, 27, 2009. Lawmakers voted 162-77, with one abstention, to ratify Prime Minister-designate Boiko Borisov's new government Monday, and approved his 16-member Cabinet in a separate vote. The former Sofia mayor, whose GERB party won a July 5 election, is promising to implement swift anti-corruption reforms aimed at restoring European Union confidence in Bulgaria and unfreezing blocked EU funds to help the country cope with its economic crisis. (AP Photo)
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov


Borissov’s call followed media reports that revealed that an entrepreneur charged with smuggling undocumented migrants to Bulgaria won a public tender from the interior ministry for transportation of migrants who have been arrested inside the country to accommodation centres.

“This is shameful, I have nothing more to add,” Borissov told journalists on Monday, adding that the story “sounds like a joke”.

The 34-year-old Grigor Toshkov, owner of the company Edelvais 0707, was arrested at the end of June while driving a bus containing 65 migrants, none of whom had any documents, near Bulgaria’s border with Turkey.

He was charged with migrant smuggling and released under house arrest. Toshkov even signed a deal with the prosecution, accepting the accusations, but withdrew from the agreement later.

While he was under house arrest, he transferred the transport company, which won the public tender on August 8, to his 56-year-old father.

It also turned out that the hired bus he used while allegedly trying to smuggle migrants through Bulgaria was the same one that police intended to use to transport the migrants to the accommodation centres.

The case has provoked public mockery and outrage, as the Bulgarian interior ministry has often been accused of corruption and other malpractices.

At the end of July, the state’s special prosecution charged four police officers with involvement in an organised crime ring dealing with people-smuggling.

The Bulgarian interior ministry has appointed Svetlan Kachikov as the new chief of the border guards.

Kachikov has over 20 years’ experience with the border and coastguards, according to the interior ministry.

He was a commander of the Bulgarian ship Obzor, which rescued 900 migrants near the Greek island of Lesbos in February as a part of the Frontex naval mission Poseidon.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Bulgarian National Radio reported that 100 Frontex officers will join Bulgarian guards at the country’s borders with Turkey and Serbia.

The majority of the EU officers – 85 of them – will participate in border patrols, while the other 15 will work at border checkpoints.

Balkan Insight

16 August, 2016