Delyan Peevski is one of the most controversial figures in Bulgarian politics, business and media. He has spent several terms of office as a Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP. He has even been head of the Bulgarian FBI (State Agency for National Security) – for one day – but after mass protests broke out in the streets was forced to hand in his resignation. In the public space he is often perceived as the undisputed media mogul of Bulgaria, owner of many newspapers, TV channels, radio stations and magazines. Reportedly Delyan Peevksi also owns several construction companies, shares in an electrical appliances store chain and was, until a couple of days ago, owner of the biggest manufacturer and trader in tobacco and tobacco products Bulgartabac, planning to buy Himko-Vratsa, the dinosaur chemical factory from communist times that closed doors long ago. Even though his relations with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms are amicable, Turkey barred him from entering its territory. The sweeping scope of action and his divergent business interests seem to have earned him enemies as well, and he is one of very few Bulgarians not holding any high public office, to have had personal bodyguards assigned to him by the secret services.
And on top of all this, all of a sudden Delyan Peevksi released a heart-rending letter to the media, explaining that because of political pressure and the ongoing “smear” media campaign, not only was he giving up the idea of breathing new life into the long-dead Himko plant and into the half-dead Northwestern portion of Bulgaria, but that he was stopping any new business projects in the country.
By selling Bulgartabac (to an offshore company he is also the owner of, according to some media reports) and giving up plans to buy Himko-Vratsa, the MP-cum-businessman is giving a sign that significant processes are taking place in his media-economic empire.
What is going on exactly is difficult to say, because Delyan Peevski and his beloved Movement for Rights and Freedoms are very secretive and, most often than not, the public only get to know what the outcome is of any ongoing furtive processes and tendencies.
Still, some analysts say there is a connection between the shocks tearing across the Peevski conglomerate and the bankruptcy, two years ago, of the Corporate Commercial Bank with majority owner, Peevksi’s own former business partner and friend Tsvetan Vasilev. Observers tend to think that precisely crediting from that bank has helped Delyan Peevksi build his media empire, stone by stone, an empire that has been putting out tentacles into many other economic sectors and spheres. But the cheap (free?) financing is now gone and the media market is not particularly lucrative. Peevski’s construction business suffered a serious blow when a string of public tenders, worth tens of millions of euro, were halted by no less than the Prime Minister himself. The Turkish Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) and the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade on their part accused Bulgartabac of being one of the biggest cigarette-smuggling entities in Turkey.
All this means financial loss for Delyan Peevski and it has evidently affected his investment and expansionist plans, shaking the foundations of his kingdom. Smoke is now billowing over his business empire and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the cause of this smoke comes to light soon – whether it is a smokescreen or a conflagration that might spread, reducing everything to ashes in its wake.
English version: Milena Daynova