A Monday in Sunny Beach: concession contract breaches, drug ring busts

Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach made the headlines twice in a day on August 22, and it was a real Monday for the concrete-kitsch-and-mass-tourism destination.

One event ended with a threat to revoke the concession for Sunny Beach, and in the other, the Interior Ministry made much of its bust of two alleged illegal drug distribution gangs in the summer seaside holiday resort.

Sunny Beach has not been in hot pursuit of bad publicity, especially after the early-summer shootout at a beach bar that left Mityo “The Eyes” Zhelyzakov with five bullet wounds and one of his bodyguards dead. “The Eyes” was released from hospital last week, more than two months after spending many days in critical condition. Charges have been laid against the person who allegedly shot him; reports on August 22 said that Zhelyzakov had not yet been questioned in connection with the incident.

Bulgarian Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova put her toes on the hot sands of Sunny Beach on August 22, in a pre-announced visit, to announce the outcome of repeated inspections at Sunny Beach Nessebur to establish whether concession contract conditions were being kept to.

Forty beachs had been inspected, and many of the deficiencies found during checks earlier in the season had been removed.

The most serious breaking of the rules was found at Sunny Beach North and Nessebur South beach, including exceeding the area permitted for putting up temporary retail outlets, and the required balance between pay-to-use areas of the beach and the free-of-charge zones.

According to Angelkova, the concession-holder of Sunny Beach North could face a fine of 300 000 leva (about 150 000 euro) and could face revocation of the concession.

Rivalling Angelkova for the news of the day out of Sunny Beach (which one reporter had trouble reporting because she fainted from the heat during Angelkova’s event; emergency services arrived in minutes, and the reporter was better now, her colleagues reported) was Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov, who announced the “neutralising” of two illegal drug distribution groups in the region.

Against a background of the shooting involving Zhelyazkov being alleged to have had something to do with a turf war over control of Sunny Beach, Bulgaria’s law enforcement have been making much of their operations against crime in the resort.

Kostov told an August 22 news conference that in special police operations in Sunny Beach and Bourgas, two groups of illegal drug distributors had been arrested.

One group was based in the village of Pomorie, and the other in Sofia, the latter distributing drugs at Sunny Beach in the summer, then moving operations to the mountain winter resorts during skiing season.

Kostov said that the whole country wanted to see the removal of the threats posed by these problems so that the resort could be a safer place to stay for tourists.

The ministry said that a modern cannabis extraction operation had been proceeding in the village of Kamenar.

In all, seven people had been arrested in Sunny Beach. Large quanties of narcotics, including hemp, heroin, ecstasy and others, had been seized. Work on pre-trial proceedings, and investigations, were continuing.



The Sofia Globe staff

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