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Bulgarians Welcome US Graft Sanctions

 |  June 3, 2021

Leading Bulgarian politicians welcomed US sanctions on three Bulgarians and 64 companies linked to them over alleged corruption on Thursday, June 3, while the European Union signaled its approval by stating that it would not impose countermeasures.

The US Treasury Department stated on Wednesday, June 2, the sanctions were its single biggest action against graft to date, and also targeted plans to create a conduit for Russian political leaders to influence the Bulgarian government.

Leaders of Bulgarian political parties welcomed the sanctions ahead of snap parliamentary elections on July 11, with the leader of the anti-establishment ITN party, Slavi Trifonov, calling them a “friendly hand from a partner.”

The sanctions impose a freeze on any US assets of former lawmaker and media mogul Delyan Peevski, government official Ilko Zhelyazkov, and fugitive gambling tycoon Vassil Bozhkov. Peevski, Zhelyazkov, and three other former officials were also barred from entering the United States.

The US government accused Peevski of influence peddling and bribery, and Zhelyazkov of acting as his front-man to conduct bribery schemes. Peevski has denied wrongdoing and threatened to take legal action over the US sanctions. Bozhkov said the decision to impose sanctions ignored his own status as a victim of extortion.

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