Scenesetter for Bulgarian Interior Minister Petkov's Meetings in Washington

Views on BG | May 16, 2011, Monday // 17:08

by WikiLeaks 

date: 2/10/2006 16:00
refid: 06SOFIA215
origin: Embassy Sofia
classification: SECRET
destination: 05SOFIA1618|05SOFIA1685|05SOFIA2054|06SOFIA198
header:
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OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
DE RUEHSF #0215/01 0411600
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O 101600Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1415
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY 0122
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 SOFIA 000215

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FBI FOR OIO
DOD FOR OSD/POLICY (STRAUSS)
DOJ FOR OIA, OPDAT, AND AG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2016
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ASEC, KCRM, KCOR, BU
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER
PETKOV'S MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON

REF: A. 05 SOFIA 2054
B. SOFIA 198
C. 05 SOFIA 1618
D. 05 SOFIA 1685

Classified By: DCM Jeffrey D. Levine, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Interior Minister Rumen Petkov is one of the
most influential personalities in the current government, and
is almost certainly the one who evokes the strongest feelings
among Bulgarians. Recent public opinion data shows him to be
among the most popular public officials in the country, a
first for an Interior Minister in post-Communist Bulgaria.
On the other hand, many on the right side of the political
spectrum view Petkov as the poster child for all that is
wrong with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP): unreformed,
unrepentant, and tainted by corruption. While often
demonized by his opponents, Petkov is not the one-dimensional
character he is sometimes made out to be; whether out of
conviction or convenience, he is clearly on the side of
reformist Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev. On the foreign
policy issues we care most about -- GWOT, Iraq, stationing of
U.S. forces -- he has used his influence as Deputy Party
Chairman to move the BSP in our direction. Not surprisingly,
since he has only been in office five months, the jury is
still out on his performance as Interior Minister. If his
private comments and public statements are to be believed, he
is serious about rooting out corruption in his ministry and
bringing criminals to justice. The results to date have been
mixed, however, and Petkov needs to be pushed hard to put
more of Bulgaria's most notorious organized crime figures
where they belong: behind bars. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) As head of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) Petkov
oversees all of Bulgaria's law enforcement agencies, as well
as the National Security Service (NSS), whose principal
responsibility is domestic counter-intelligence. He will be
accompanied on his visit to the United States by Deputy
Interior Minister Boiko Kotsev, Interior Ministry General
Secretary Ilia Iliev, and NSS Director Ivan Chobanov.

SIPDIS

3. (C) Much of the country's success in implementing
effective rule of law depends on Petkov's personal resolve to
tackle organized crime. To date, his tenure at the Interior
Ministry has not seen significant progress on this front.
The five largest organized crime groups in Bulgaria (TIM,
VIS, SIC, Nove Holding, and Multigroup) are household names
and generally operate with impunity. Over 30 people have
been killed in recent years in gangland-style shootings
linked to organized crime, none of which have been solved.
During the same time period, only two high-profile OC leaders
(the Marinov brothers, linked to SIC) have actually been
detained. The MOI has made little progress in its
investigation into the murder of businessman Emil Kyulev,
which rocked the Bulgarian political establishment in October
(Ref. A). Nove Holding, lead by Vasil Bozhkov (aka, "The
Skull") and TIM, led by Tihomir Mitev and Ivo Georgiev, are
the two groups that have been largely untouched by recent
killings and arrests, leading many to believe that they enjoy
at least tacit support at high levels of the GOB.

------------
WHAT WE WANT
------------

4. (C) Petkov and his deputies have been prepared for a tough
message on organized crime, and we should press him hard to
show results. The imminent appointment of the reform-minded
Boris Velchev to replace corrupt and ineffective Chief
Prosecutor Nikola Filchev removes an important obstacle to
action on this front (Ref. B). Only if Petkov and Velchev
succeed in reforming their respective services and tackling
vested interests will progress be possible in the fight
against organized crime.

5. (S) Cooperation with the U.S. on counter-terrorism and
counter-proliferation are handled by Petkov through the NSS.
Agencies at post report that cooperation with the NSS has
improved under Petkov's leadership and that he has taken
steps to professionalize the service and insulate it from
political influence and cronyism. We should express our

SOFIA 00000215 002 OF 003

appreciation and encourage Petkov to continue working closely
with us on these issues.

--------------------
POTENTIAL AGREEMENTS
--------------------

6. (C) Petkov and other MOI officials have repeatedly
stressed to us their desire to execute a formal bilateral
agreement on exchange of law enforcement information (Ref.
B). We expect them to raise this issue in Washington as
well. Under Bulgarian law, legal and investigative records
are considered classified, and cannot be exchanged with
another government without a formal agreement. In practice,
Bulgarian law enforcement contacts have generally provided
information anyway, but continually worry that they are in
technical violation of their own law. Post generally
supports the idea of an MOU on this issue to facilitate
cooperation and allay Bulgarian concerns, but has not been
able to settle on a text that will be acceptable to both
Washington counterparts and the GOB.

7. (U) Another bilateral legal instrument currently under
consideration is an update of the extradition treaty between
the U.S. and Bulgaria, which was last amended in the 1930s.
This proposal has the strong support of U.S. law enforcement
agencies as well as the GOB. C-175 negotiation authority has
currently passed the inter-agency clearance process, and is
awaiting final approval from the Department. If final
approval is obtained in time for Petkov's visit, a public
announcement of the initiation of negotiations could be seen
as a potential deliverable for both sides. A bilateral
agreement on WMD-related assistance has also been under
discussion for several years but significant obstacles remain
in the negotiation of a mutually acceptable text.

8. (U) Less controversial is the INL implementing arrangement
expected to be signed between Minister Petkov and INL Asst.
Secretary Patterson during the visit. This document is an

SIPDIS
amendment to the LOA between the GOB and INL signed last
year, and spells out the terms of U.S.-funded law enforcement
developmental assistance to Bulgaria.

------------------------
Politics and Personality
------------------------

9. (S) Petkov is perhaps best described as a political
operator who has proven his pragmatism and is motivated by
success rather than ideology. While strongly supporting the
policies of moderate BSP leaders such as President Parvanov
and Prime Minister Stanishev, he also maintains working
relationships with political forces as diverse as right-wing
Sofia Mayor Boiko Borissov, leaders of the ethnic-Turkish MRF
party, and the BSP's "hard left," including representatives
of communist-era security services. Petkov's ties to the
BSP's old guard resulted in political embarrassment in
September 2005, when he was forced to abandon plans to
appoint high-ranking former members of the communist-era
intelligence service and political police to an MOI
"Citizen's Advisory Council" (Refs. C & D).

10 (S) Petkov's role as campaign manager and "bag man" for
the BSP's last three national campaigns has inevitably
resulted in accusations of corruption and links to organized
crime; however his modest lifestyle suggests these
associations may have been for party, rather than personal
gain. As the mayor of the central Bulgarian city of Pleven
during the mid-1990s, Petkov was dogged by scandals, some
serious and some -- like his late night arrest for urinating
in a public fountain -- simply illustrative of his unpolished
style. Like the president and prime minister, Petkov
understands that Bulgaria must show progress on rule of law
in order to enter the EU in 2007. However, past associations
with controversial figures may make it difficult for him to
move against certain OC interests. Petkov has also long been
publicly associated with Russians who are either directly or
indirectly affiliated with Russian intelligence.

11. (C) In sharp contrast to the statesmanlike style of
President Parvanov and the reformist enthusiasm of PM

SOFIA 00000215 003 OF 003

Stanishev, Petkov is well known for his hard-working,
hard-drinking approach to politics. Though this
controversial image may prevent Petkov from aspiring to
higher office, it has not hurt his popularity: polls
consistently show him to be among the popular politicians in
the country.

------------------
Petkov and the MOI
------------------

12. (C) Despite post's concerns about the MOI's effectiveness
against OC and corruption, all agencies at post report
excellent cooperation with Petkov and the MOI on law
enforcement, intelligence and embassy security. In recent
years, U.S.-funded programs have provided significant
assistance to the MOI, particularly aimed at enhancing the
technical and investigative capabilities of Bulgarian law
enforcement. On February 7, the Ambassador and Petkov held a
joint press conference to mark the donation of two advanced
bomb-disposal robots to the MOI. The Minister is playing a
key role in Bulgaria's hosting of the 2006 NATO Ministerial
and the 2006 International Association of Chiefs of Police
Conference.

13. (C) In contrast to previous Interior Ministers, however,
Petkov has told us privately that the Ministry of Interior's
main problem is not lack of resources. He has emphasized his
concern that many MOI officers at all levels are "working on
the other side" on behalf of corrupt interests, and has
argued that the ministry should first clean house before
turning to foreign donors to solve its problems. Petkov's
plan to fire hundreds of corrupt police officers was derailed
following the Kyulev murder, but he has continued to push for
major reform of the ministry. He has thrown his weight
behind proposals to radically revise the MOI's structure,
including consolidating the country's numerous police
services under a single hierarchy and abandoning
communist-era military titles for MOI officials in favor of a
civilian ranking system. The draft MOI Act favored by Petkov
would also greatly diminish the role of the ministry's
general secretary, centralizing control of law enforcement
agencies in the interior minister's hands.

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COMMENT
-------

14. (C) Petkov is a pragmatist. He understands that
Bulgaria's interests, as well as his own, lie in rapid
integration into Europe and a strong bilateral relationship
with the U.S. Despite his checkered past, he is our prime
contact on counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation and law
enforcement. He should be praised for his cooperation in the
first two areas and pushed to show results in the last. END
COMMENT.

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