OCTOPUS'S GARDEN

by Stamen Manolov

One of the most trumpeted special operations of the Bulgarian police, dubbed "Octopus," came to a spectacular denouement when the court ordered its chief suspect, Aleksey Petrov, to be released from jail and put under house arrest.

octopus bulgaria.jpg

A flurry of political, diplomatic and media activity ensued, but this can scarcely conceal the fact that out of the nine original suspects, just three remain accused, while from the comfort of his home the "Head of the Octopus" has declared his intention of getting involved in politics.

Aleksey Petrov, former special forces officer, entrepreneur, adviser to DANS, or State Agency for National Security, former professor and, reportedly, former associate of current Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, has been accused of many crimes and misdeeds, including smuggling and various other rackets. His arrest at the beginning of 2010 was applauded, in a highly unusual diplomatic move by, among others, American Ambassador James Warlick. "I am surprised by his release," Warlick is now quoted as saying, adding that Petrov remains a "dangerous man."

Among other things, Petrov had access to the highest rated confidential information in DANS.

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov is furious. He has resorted to his usual adage that, whatever his men do, the courts undo because they usually release whoever gets arrested for lack of evidence or some other procedural faux pas. Yane Yanev, the leader of the RZS, or Order, Law and Justice Party, has been quick to resume his erstwhile role of mouthpiece for Petrov, from the days when the latter had access to all DANS's secrets. For those in the know, Yanev got elected to parliament in 2009 solely on foot of his "fearless" fight against corruption, based on information leaked to him from the Bulgarian version of the FBI. According to Tsvetanov, now is the chance for Yanev to become the political attorney for organised crime.

"Scandal is the authentic emanation of Bulgarian public life," commented Stefan Popov, an intellectual and the former head of the Open Society Foundation in Sofia. The question remains, however, who will go to jail and when? Perhaps Octopus Paul might have the answer?

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