The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has begun pre-trial proceedings in connection with the murder on August 16 of Alexei Petrov, a former State Agency for National Security (SANS) consultant, former organised crime accused and former presidential candidate.
Petrov, 61, was shot dead while walking on a wooded path in Bulgarian capital city’s mountainside Dragalevtsi area. A 48-year-old woman who was accompanying him was admitted to Pirogov hospital with serious gunshot injuries.
Among those being questioned were three bodyguards who were accompanying Petrov, prosecutors said. A special task force involving Interior Ministry staff has been set up to investigate the murder.
Petrov was arrested in February 2010 as part of the high-profile Octopus operation against organised crime. He was charged with racketeering and extortion. Petrov was put under house arrest. The charges were later reduced to racketeering and extortion of two individuals. In February 2014, the special court decided to terminate the investigation into the “Octopus” crime group.
Petrov formerly was employed by an anti-terrorism squad until the early 1990s. He worked with secret counterintelligence and SANS. He was a co-founder of insurance companies and in the late 1990s, was reported to have been involved in Budoinvest Ltd, along with Boiko Borissov and Roumen Nikolov.
In 2011, Petrov stood as an independent in Bulgaria’s presidential elections, and was eliminated at the first round.
He was the target of previous assassination attempts, including in 2015 when an RPG was fired at the vehicle in which he was travelling, and in 2014, when he was attacked near the Spartak swimming pool complex in Sofia.