New study details corruption in Bulgaria Sofia_echo - 2009/1/29
Bulgarians paid more than two million bribes last year, according to a report by the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Dnevnik reported on January 29 2009.

The Crime without Punishment study said that governments of small resort towns with growing allocations had been conquered by business groups in 2007-2008.

Emerging as the nation’s biggest “political investors”, oligarchs had grown immune to legal probes, the report said.

The number of bribery and organised crime punishments had decreased during 2007-2008.

The feeble reaction against magistrates was coupled with persistent corrupt influence of political and oligarchic lobbies in the judiciary.

A growing number of senior state officials were gaining presence in the non-government sector, Dnevnik reported the study as saying.

Criminal groups had adopted new approaches for breaking into the national security system. They control appointments in the legal and the security bodies to act in their interest.

Government resources were being concentrated into a handful of big entrepreneurs creating an oligarchy, according to the study.

Bulgarian National Radio reported Speaker of Parliament Georgi Pirinski as telling the conference that “corruption is an ulcer and vice of society”.

Pirinski said that two-thirds of Bulgarians saw corruption as the biggest problem faced by the country.

Bulgarian news agency Focus reported Boiko Borissov, the mayor of Sofia and leader of the Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria party, as saying that political will and morality were needed in the fight against corruption.

Borissov said that Sofia Municipality had demonstrated its determination and had dismissed the former deputy mayor in charge of transport Velizar Stoilov.

According to Borissov, such actions had to be taken even if there was the slightest suggestion of corruption.

He said that it was Sofia Municipality that had started checking public companies. He said that every socially significant case was a result of these checks: the Sofia heating utility case, Sofia Real Estates case, among others.

United States ambassador Nancy McEldowney emphasised the many positive and difficult steps that Bulgaria had taken in the fight against corruption and organised crime, the US embassy website said.

The country’s many accomplishments demonstrated that it had the ability to overcome great challenges, such as those currently facing it, the website quoted McEldowney as saying.

Focus quoted McEldowney as proposing three measures that Bulgarian authorities should undertake against corruption.

Judicial authorities should be indicted if they ended prosecutions without proper reasons. Deadlines should be set for court decisions on cases, especially in cases against people who abused European Union funds, she said.

According to McEldowney, the second step refers to the transparency of public procurements procedures. She said that the Government should take steps to ensure that public procurements are published on the internet.

The last step was that all Bulgarian political parties should work together in accordance with the agreement on transparency during the elections, which was signed several days ago, Focus reported McEldowney as saying.

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