Police: Graft is rife in Bulgaria Kathimerini - 1999/12/17
SOFIA (AFP) - The Bulgarian organized crime squad has uncovered 234 cases of corruption since 1997 implicating 377 civil servants at local and national levels, its chief announced yesterday. "There is no evidence against corrupt ministers or members of Parliament. There is evidence against some people linked to them," said Kiril Radev, head of the police anti-organized crime unit. Radev said 41 cases concerned corrupt police officers, 31 customs and tax officers and 14 officers of the judicial service. Twenty-six cases were connected to the privatization of state-owned firms and 19 to local authorities. Inquiries have been opened into four-fifths of the cases uncovered, and so far four people have been successfully prosecuted. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov ordered the report after President Petar Stoyanov expressed his anger that "reform should be accompanied by corruption." The people's belief in these reforms should not be damaged by "the greed, egotism and arrogance of a handful of politicians," he declared on October 24 after the ruling Union of Democratic Forces saw their share of the vote slip below their expectations in municipal elections. The Bulgarian non-governmental organization Coalition 2000 claimed at a conference it held on Monday that public servants collected 250,000 bribes every month. According to a survey it carried out, corruption is the third most worrying issue for Bulgarians, after unemployment and low pay. Coalition 2000 said their study showed the most corrupt organizations were the customs and tax services, magistrates, the privatization agency and police. Bulgaria's largest trade union, the KNSB, announced yesterday that it would unveil an Internet site containing information about corruption early in the new year.

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