Fourty five Bulgarian envoys secret communist agents: probe

Half of Bulgaria's ambassadors to European Union member states -- including Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece and Portugal -- were agents, according to the panel.

Fourty five Bulgarian envoys secret communist agents: probe

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov called on Wednesday for the sacking of 45 top diplomats identified by an historical commission as having been secret police agents under pre-1990 communist rule.

The commission said diplomats including the current Bulgarian ambassadors in London, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo and Moscow collaborated with the feared former Darzhavna Sigurnost security service when the Balkan country was a Soviet satellite.

Half of Bulgaria's ambassadors to European Union member states -- including Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece and Portugal -- were agents, according to the panel, which was tasked with opening the archives of the former secret police.

Collaboration with communist-era secret police remains a sensitive issue throughout the former Soviet bloc. But Bulgaria, a member of the EU and NATO, has been among the last to deal with its painful communist past.

Once Moscow's most obedient ally, Bulgaria had one of the most notorious spy networks. It was implicated in plots ranging from a failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II to the the killing of an exiled dissident in London with a poison-tipped umbrella.

"Imagine these agents in western European countries. They once worked against them as ideological enemies and now they are representing our government there," Borisov told reporters.

"My opinion is that we have to part with these people and I suppose my party will back me up," he said.

In 2006, Sofia passed legislation to open the archives of the former secret police but the measure does not oblige former agents to quit current posts, nor are they banned from applying for public servant positions or running for political office.

The government will appeal to President Georgi Parvanov, who appoints ambassadors, to recall the former agents, Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov told reporters.

He said the government would also propose legal changes to prevent former agents from getting diplomatic appointments.

The commission says information it has come across also cites Parvanov as having worked for the old secret police.

Parvanov has said he wrote a book review for a man who later turned out to be an agent, but has denied he was ever an agent.

In its report released on Tuesday evening, the commission assessed that 45 percent of the 462 former and current diplomats who served since the fall of communism in 1989, whose records it hecked, had been agents.

Many Bulgarians also believe that former agents have used bribes, blackmail and billions of euros worth of money spirited out of the Black Sea state in the last days of communism to wield lasting influence behind the scenes.

Analysts say former KGB-trained Bulgarian officers and their informants have used skills learned working for the secret police to take top positions in government, business and Bulgaria's powerful underworld.

"If half of our ambassadors were agents, imagine what is the situation within the country," Borisov said. "We have certainly underestimated the heavy damage which the former Darzhavna Sigurnost has dealt to the state."


Reuters

Last Mod: 15 Aralık 2010, 15:35
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