Bulgarian Ex Undercover Agent No Longer Deemed 'Octopus'

Crime | September 8, 2010, Wednesday // 15:51
Bulgarian Ex Undercover Agent No Longer Deemed 'Octopus': Bulgarian Ex Undercover Agent No Longer Deemed 'Octopus' Aleksei Petrov, who was detained in February and charged with organized crime, walks in the courtroom Wednesday. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's former undercover agent of the State Agency for National Security (DANS), Aleksei Petrov, is no longer part of the crime group under the codename "Octopus."

The breaking news was revealed Wednesday during the Sofia City Court's "behind closed doors" session which is expected to rule on Petrov's defense council most recent request to release their client from jail.

In August, a number of charges against Petrov have been dismissed, his attorneys informed, and he is now facing a trial only on the counts of organizing a crime group dealing with racket and blackmail. The same charges are pressed against the man believed to be the ex agent's right hand – Anton Petrov aka the Hamster and against Marchelo Dzholotov. The now former "Octopus" is no longer charged with organizing a prostitution ring, draining money from the insolvent steel mill "Kremikovtzi" and a number of other economic crimes. These charges are pressed currently only against Plamen and Yordan Stoyanovi, aka the Dambovtsi Brothers.

The racket charge is based on witness testimony from a former partner, who says he was forced to transfer a property to Petrov.

Another charge, still in force, is the of leaking classified information, the attorneys said, adding the prosecutor is expected to complete the probe by October.

"The theater of the absurd called "Octopus" is over, now the circus is beginning," the former agent told courtroom reporters Wednesday.

Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, explained the latest developments with the tactics of the investigation process.

"This is only the first stage and the charges would not end here. The probe continues," the Minister pointed out.

Petrov, one of the most controversial and mysterious figures of the country's transition, was arrested on February 10, 2010, during the special police operation codenamed "Octopus," on charges of blackmail, racket, prostitution, illegal drug trading, draining of "Kremikovzi," trading in influence, money laundering, and tax evasion, among others.

The operation targeted a large-scale organized crime group. The crimes of which Aleksei Petrov and the other defendants were accused have allegedly been committed in the period 1997-2010.

Out of the 14 people arrested then only Petrov and Dzholotov are still in jail. The former DANS agent had made numerous attempts to be released.

Aleksei Petrov, who was an advisor of the former State National Security Agency DANS Director, Petko Sertov, resigned from the Agency on August 31, 2009, a month after the GERB cabinet took office, in his own words, over disagreement with the new methods of work at the institution.

Petrov claims his arrest has nothing to do with the alleged crimes and is politically motivated. According to unconfirmed reports he has filed a complaint against Bulgaria with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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Tags: Aleksei Petrov, Octopus, European Court of Human Rights, Boyko Borisov, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, ringleader
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