Sofia traffic police began extensive checks on motorists on May 29, looking out for traffic violations, wanted persons and vehicles, officials said.
As of last week, mobile cameras work according to new rules, with fines being issued electronically without motorists being stopped, Bulgarian National Television said.
The Interior Ministry said that there would be “comprehensive” checks at places where it was convenient to stop several cars simultaneously.
These included, on May 29, the central station, checkpoints at the exit from Sofia to Trakiya Motorway (which leads to Plovdiv and on to Bourgas), along Botevgradsko Chausse and Slivnitsa Boulevard and at the entrance to the Lyulin motorway.
Meanwhile, an article in Praven Svyat (Legal World) said that the website had received complaints from readers who had cars with registration licence plates from other EU countries, saying that they were being singled out unfairly by traffic police.
One motorist said that she had been stopped 20 times in two weeks.
The report alleged that in spite of Interior Ministry rules that traffic police could stop motorists only if there was evidence of an offence, traffic police – and other Interior Ministry employees – were stopping EU-registered cars for no apparent reason.
The report suggested that this could be linked to a recent statement by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said all cars with foreign number plates should pay taxes. This seemingly was a reference to the practice of some Bulgarians driving foreign-registered cars to avoid local taxes.
The article pointed out that, for example, Bulgarians bought or leased cars from Germany “for precisely the same reason Greeks and Romanians on a large scale buy and register cars in Bulgaria – it’s cheaper”.
“That is the purpose of the free market, free movement of goods and services within the EU,” the article said.
Administrative harassment by stopping motorists would not help but would serve only to embitter people.
Those subjected to illegal administrative harassment, the owners of vehicles registered in the EU, could take court action against the state and municipalities, the article said. It said that the response by traffic police to people who challenged the legality of the examination was deliberate foot-dragging.
It added that drivers who had been stopped also said that in spite of recently-announced rules, the traffic police who stopped them were not wearing microphones and no footage was taken of the episode.
“Obviously this measure against corruption was a miracle for three days, like most attempts at positive steps in Bulgaria,” the article said. There was no comment from traffic police.
(Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis/flickr.com)