Bulgaria expels eight YU citizens

SOFIA, Aug 23, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bulgaria's National Security Service (NSS) ordered the expulsion of eight Yugoslav citizens for actions threatening national security, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

"The grounds for these administrative measures are that with their actions they have threatened the security and interests of the Bulgarian state," the ministry said in a statement.

It said Milivoje Radulovic, 50, would be banned from entering the country for 10 years and the other seven Yugoslavs for five years.

It named them as Predrag Rakic, 29, Slavisha Alexov, 34, Ivan Kostadinov, 33, Slobodan Perunovic, 53, Vesselin Kostadinovic, 63, Marko Golubovic, 51 and Ismet Gashi, 38.

The ministry gave no information on their activities in Bulgaria. None of the eight were immediately available for comment.

However, Bulgaria has been under pressure from the West to tighten control of money laundering operations on its territory. Last Friday the NSS also banished five foreign businessmen, who were resident in Bulgaria. It barred them from entering the country for 10 years, citing threats to national security.

"The five in various ways with their activities have introduced into Bulgaria's economy great amounts of money of unclear origin. This creates pre-conditions for compromising Bulgaria's image internationally," NSS Director Atanas Atanassov said on Monday.


Bulgarian law does not allow foreign residents to appeal the decision in court. But they can continue with their business operations in the country from abroad, Atanassov said.

Analysts said that up until now Bulgaria has not closely scrutinised the money entering the country.

"It is important for Bulgaria to start paying more attention to the origin of capital entering the country and quality of investments, rather than quantity. This was not the case so far," said Georgi Ganev of the Center for Liberal Strategies independent think-tank.

One of the businessman expelled last week was Michael Chorny, 49, who holds Russian, U.S. and Israeli passports. He is a direct or indirect shareholder in Bulgaria's only digital cellular phone operator Mobiltel, Yukos Petroleum and two private banks, Roseximbank and Neftinvestbank, according to the ministry.

The other businessmen barred were Lithuanian citizen Denis Dzhersov, owner of Yukos Petroleum-London, Russian citizens Vladimir Gorshenin, Ravil Hairulin and Dmitri Shirkov, who has Russian and Greek citizenship, the ministry said.

Russian oil major Yukos YUKO.RTS issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with Yukos Petroleum, which is now called Naftex Petroleum.

Earlier on Tuesday Dzhersov, who is now in Monaco, issued a statement rejecting allegations of illegal business and connections with international criminal organizations. Dzhersov said he would appeal the decision in Bulgarian and international courts.

Dzhersov said the order aimed to ruin his business in Bulgaria which includes a minority share in local Neftinvest Bank and control of Naftex Petroleum, which in consortium with Austria's OMV and Bulgaria's Petrol Holding bought 51 percent of local fuel retailer Petrol last year for $51 million.

Chorny's lawyer Todor Batkov, said on Sunday that Chorny, who was now in France, had also denied all allegations and would appeal in a Bulgarian or international court.

Original article