Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on February 28 that Elena Poptodorova, formerly the country’s long-time ambassador to the United States, had been detained at Warsaw Airport in connection with the alleged theft of cosmetics valued at 381 euro.
Poptodorova, who reportedly had been travelling on a diplomatic passport in spite of not being an employee of the Foreign Ministry, had not wanted the Bulgarian embassy involved in the case.
News of the incident first emerged in Polish media reports.
Bulgarian television station Nova Televizia said that Poptodorova had said that she had been holding the cosmetic cream in her hand when her mother called her on her mobile phone. Forgetting that she still had the container in her hand, she had stepped out of the duty-free shop to answer the call.
Bulgarian National Radio said that its attempts to contact Poptodorova by phone had not succeeded.
In September 2016, Poptodorova became the director of the then-newly-established Shapiro-Silverberg American Jewish Committee Central Europe Office, based in Warsaw.
Poptodorova, who speaks several languages, was the personal translator of Todor Zhivkov, Bulgaria’s long-standing communist dictator, before 1989.
She was elected in 1990 to the Grand National Assembly and subsequently was a member of three successive National Assemblies. She was Bulgaria’s ambassador in Washington DC from 2002 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2016.
Poptodorova is on the boards of the European Institute, the American Foundation for Bulgaria, the Executive Council on Diplomacy, the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, American University in Bulgaria and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Germany.
Government Properties Income Trust, a real estate investment trust which owns properties leased primarily to the US government and state governments located throughout the US, said on February 22 that Poptodorova had been elected to its board of trustees as an independent trustee.