The helplessness of thieves

And finally (at least for now) – surrealistic film featuring novichok and weapons

Tsvetan Vassilev


There is no significant argument to counter the unmistakable fact that Vassilev and Gebrev are the only ones trying to seize control of Dunarit without paying back any of its debt to CorpBank. The two are left with only insinuations and lies to work with and the consolation that the public institutions are not particularly active in exposing their ridiculous mantras.

On that last point, one cannot help but wonder: if it were in Germany, for example, where two individuals indicted for involvement in an organised crime group had tried to ruthlessly and shamelessly steal the largest local plant for ammunition, whose shares had been distrained by the country’s anti-corruption body, would they also have been given hours of airtime on television channels and allowed to pose as victims of the German prosecutor’s office or the German equivalent of the Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture? Surely, both would have long been put in jail and even if they had still been able to pay some scribblers for hire to promote their theses, no one would have put any stock in their nonsense. That is how the German society would have reacted. But this is Bulgaria and apparently everything is possible here.

Last week, however, the thieves’ helplessness in the face of facts produced another serving of ridiculous claims worthy of a horror film script with thriller and fantasy elements. They appeared in the publication Capital owned by another indicted oligarch – Ivo Prokopiev.

What is this about? In 2015, i.e. long before the described scheme and before Gebrev entered the Dunarit picture, information surfaced that he and his son had been poisoned. They both survived and the daily newspaper 24 Hours pointed at a huge deal Gebrev had signed for special exports to Ukraine as the probable reason behind the incident. The article, dated 21 June 2015, also cited Gebrev as saying that the poisoning happened back in April 2015. In the almost four years since then, no one mentioned another word of the incident, while Gebrev remained silent on the issue and made no official statements. Until now, that is.

In January 2019, obviously encouraged by his advisors and probably Boyko Noev (I hope you have not forgotten that it was Noev who, in his capacity as defence minister, renewed Gebrev’s licence in 2001), who was also present at the 2017 meeting between Gebrev and Boyko Borissov, Gebrev teamed up with Capital to make up the crazy fable that the arms dealer was poisoned with a substance similar to novichok and that that was done because of “his interest in Dunarit”, never mind the fact that in 2015 no one was aware of Gebrev’s appetite for the military plant.

How desperate one must be to allow one’s sick mind to conjure up such a hallucination? The article abounds in opinions, speculations and altogether completely nonsensical words – about Russian interests, Bulgarian groups, the State Agency for National Security, the former State Security agency, the Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, PM Boyko Borissov, MP Delyan Peevski, British ambassadors, Skripal and Russian prosecutors. All these words are just thrown out there, a typical “hotchpotch following Prokopiev’s recipe” that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, if the reader is able to get to the end of the article at all.

Whoever the engineer behind that ridiculous insinuation was, they obviously did not bother to even research the facts. Even the years are messed up. What “interest” in and “work” on the acquisition of Dunarit is Gebrev talking about when at the end of March 2015 Dunarit was part of the deal with Malofeev and his strawman Pierre Louvrier? Moreover, Louvrier’s name was even in the Commercial Register’s database as proxy representing Dunarit and manager of Kemira and remained such almost until June 2015, at which point he was replaced by Asen Babanski. Actually, it was not before the end of July that year that Louvrier himself announced that he was officially leaving the deal with Vassilev and “giving back” his companies, including Dunarit. In other words, Gebrev could not have eyed Dunarit while the Russian oligarch Malofeev and his proxies were still in the picture. If we are to believe Gebrev’s version, his poisoning was done preemptively a year before he actually made a move to gain control of Dunarit. We are obviously dealing with someone in possession of clairvoyance.

Gebrev must have completely lost track of his own lies because he has told the media numerous times that even though he barely knew Tsvetan Vassilev he was invited by Asen Babanski to enter Dunarit and save it. In other words Gebrev would like us to believe that while Dunarit was still under the control of Louvrier and Malofeev, and long before their withdrawal was announced, Gebrev was working on the acquisition and was even invited by a manager who was yet to be registered as such to help the plant. Further, Gebrev forgets that the autumn of that same 2015 saw the arrival of the next (following Louvrier) candidate to be Dunarit’s owner – Russian Dmitry Kosarev. What is more, a month before the April 2015 poisoning (Gebrev had supposedly already announced his interest in Dunarit), the public was preoccupied with the €1 deal between Vassilev and Malofeev, officially announced on 24 March 2015. Louvrier had been registered as proxy representing the Rousse plant in February. Of course, the existence of these circumstances does not seem to trouble the “honest” businessman Gebrev and why would it? After all, his latest fabrication about novichok and Dunarit has been disseminated and will reach a lot of people, which is his ultimate goal – to make himself out to be the victim, this time of an attack on his person. How immoral one must be to spin such delirious tales! Not that the lack of morality in the crime duo Vassilev-Gebrev would surprise anyone, but their degradation has hit rock bottom. Meanwhile, readers are left with the impression that they have been sucked into some sort of cheap crime series with sociopathic elements.

The fact that Prokopiev’s publication Capital has long stooped to the level of Frognews, the website of Ognyan Stefanov, aka agent Academician, is no news. But it is worth reporting when someone dares to spread a tall tale just to do someone else a favour and thus become a conduit of the latest clumsily stitched manipulation. It is worth noticing when through such tales one becomes complicit in preventing the repayment of BGN 190m by the Deposit Insurance Fund and in aiding the seizure of control over an entire military plant without payment. Because this is what Gebrev is trying to do, while pretending to be a victim of the state, the Prosecutor’s Office, Peevski and God knows who else. He wants to take a military plant without paying for its acquisition. And Prokopiev’s media are applauding him. Well, of course, Prokopiev too did not pay much for the privatised mining company Kaolin. In other words, plundering is nothing new to him.

If the Vassilev-Gebrev scheme had worked and the theft of Dunarit had been a done deal, there would have been no talking about novichok and spreading of such fables. But the desperation of two expert thieves and prominent figures of the transition period, as well as their partnership with another prominent “privatisation investor” like Prokopiev, are the drivers behind the Bulgarian brand of surrealism we are seeing now.

To their eternal regret, however, no one wants to see their new film because the script is weak and the actors are depressingly mediocre.

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