Top businessman shot dead in Bulgaria

Petar Hristov [Mediapool]

A top Bulgarian businessman was killed in broad daylight in the capital of Sofia yesterday (8 January), police said, highlighting the country’s persistent problem with organised crime only days after the country took over the EU presidency.

Petar Hristov, 49, the owner of a big dairy company with interests also in construction, was shot several times outside his office in an upmarket part of Sofia on Monday morning.

He was rushed to hospital but died from his wounds.

The killing comes three weeks after a high-ranking tax official was shot in his car, also in the capital. He remains in critical condition.

Such attacks have declined sharply since the 1990s and early 2000s when they were a regular occurence, but Brussels complains that Bulgaria still struggles with organised crime and graft.

Eleven years after joining the EU and despite being subject to a special EU monitoring system, no single high-ranking official has been jailed for corruption and many of the past murders remain unresolved.

The former communist country, not only the poorest in the EU but according to watchdog Transparency International also its most corrupt, took over the rotating presidency of the EU on 1 January.

Hristov reportedly had good connections within the ruling GERB party of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

National police director Hristo Terziyski said that the probe into his killing will focus on his business interests.

Bulgaria, Romania have made progress but still more needed – EU report

Bulgaria and Romania have made some progress in implementing judicial reforms and the fight against corruption but “there is still more work to be done,” the Commission said in its regular report on the two countries that remain blocked from joining the borderless Schengen area despite becoming EU members in 2007.

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