National Protection Service bodyguards have been assigned to Delyan Peevski, Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov said on February 22 2016, because of information that there was a plot to assassinate the controversial business person and Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP.
Kostov said that the information was obtained in the course of investigating the October 2015 attempt to kill Alexei Petrov.
A Ukrainian is currently facing charges of the attempted murder of Petrov, a former State Agency for National Security consultant currently facing serious organised crime charges. Three others allegedly involved in the attempt on Petrov’s life are being sought via Interpol.
Investigators had established that those involved in the plot against Peevski had observed his daily routine and investigated places that he went to and that were not known to the media. The plotters also found empty apartments.
According to Kostov, the assassination plot resembled the attempt to shoot dead Zlatomir “Bareta” Ivanov and the murder of Dmitry “The Russian” Minev.
Ivanov was struck by a number of bullets as he entered the Palace of Justice in Sofia on January 29 2013. He had been sentenced to eight years in jail for organising a crime group to distribute illegal drugs. The shots were fired from an empty apartment across the road from the court building.
Minev was shot dead in Sofia’s Vitosha Boulevard October 2004. The bullet that killed him was fired from a temporarily vacant apartment.
Kostov declined to tell reporters who had ordered Peevski’s murder, saying only that the assassination plot had been underway for almost two months.
Kostov, saying that the investigation was confidential, declined to say whether there was a link between the assassination attempt against Petrov and the plot against Peevski.
The information about the plot against Peevski had been received on February 19. It was passed on to the National Protection Service.
Peevski, who ordinarily goes about with his own private bodyguards, initially refused National Protection Service bodyguards but had been persuaded to do so.
Bulgarian law approved in the past year allows the assigning of National Protection Service bodyguards to individuals other than state and government office-bearers. However, a news conference to announce the assignment of bodyguards is unprecedented.
Recent reports said that Peevski, along with MRF honorary president Ahmed Dogan and a number of other MRF figures, had been barred from entering Turkey. Reports in the Turkish media cited allegations that Peevski was a “pro-Russian oligarch” and, noting Peevski’s involvement in Bulgartabac, said that Turkish security services were investigating channels for smuggling Bulgarian contraband cigarettes into Turkey.
This development came against a background of strife within the MRF that led to the ousting of Lyutvi Mestan as party leader in late 2015 after he took Ankara’s side in that country’s dispute with Moscow over Turkey’s downing of a Russian military bomber near Syrian air space.
Peevski said on February 19 that he was divesting his five per cent interest in Bulgartabac.
It was the June 2013 appointment of Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security that resulted in widely-supported prolonged public protests demanding the resignation of the government of the time, a ruling axis made up of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Peevski’s appointment was withdrawn after a few days. The BSP-MRF government resigned in July 2014 after the MRF made it clear it could not continue, including against a background of the BSP having been thrashed in May 2014 European Parliament elections.