Bulgarian opposition demands resignations after travellers stroll through abandoned passport control at Sofia airport

Bulgarian opposition demands resignations after travellers stroll through abandoned passport control at Sofia airport
By bne IntelliNews March 30, 2018

Bulgaria’s main opposition Socialist Party (BSP) is demanding the dismissal of Interior Minister Valentin Radev following a serious security breach at Sofia international airport, the party said on its website.

Earlier in March, more than 40 passengers arriving by plane from France entered the country with no passport check after all 13 border police officers on duty at the airport at the time left the passport check booths with no explanation.

This is "something unseen so far" and is raising serious concern over the government’s efforts to protect European borders, the BSP said in the statement.

The incident is yet another serious blow for Bulgaria at a time when the country is chairing the EU Council and is hoping to be accepted into the Schengen waiting room.

The BSP accused the government of reacting to the security breach inadequately.

“The reaction of the prime minister, interior minister and his employees … was completely inadequate ... complete chaos – they gave contradictory and unconvincing explanations: first they [claimed they] didn’t know what had happened, then it turned out that the ministry has received information two days after the accident,” the BSP said in the statement.

The interior ministry has said that it had launched an investigation and provided information that the 13 border police officers have left their posts to smoke, have lunch and go to toilet.

The 13 officers will be fired, but the ministry said it suspects an attempt by the airport’s management to cover up the accident as it had delayed reporting it.

While the government and prosecution remained relatively silent regarding this accident, on March 29 the prosecution charged Deputy Transport Minister Angel Popov with fraud in a separate case.

Popov allegedly met a transport company owner in August 2012, and during the meeting fraudulently claimed that in exchange for €8,000 the company could get shipping permits. At the time Popov had no influence on the process of issuing such permits. If found guilty, Popov could serve between one and six years in jail.

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