Magazine article Insight on the News

Ex-King Welcomes Mafia Influence into Government

Magazine article Insight on the News

Ex-King Welcomes Mafia Influence into Government

Article excerpt

There appears to be no stopping the advance of organized crime in the Balkans, even in Bulgaria, the most stable country in a region of chaos.

In June, Western politicians welcomed the election of a motley assortment of political novices led by former King Simeon II, who was removed from the throne 55 years ago. His promises to bring stable economic growth to Bulgaria and to establish responsible government according to European standards struck a chord with voters wearied by years of poverty and graft.

The newness of the king's National Movement Party led many to project hopes that may be misplaced -- that is if the appointment of Ilia Pavlov as special adviser to the government is anything to go by.

Born in Vienna, Pavlov has led a life that could have been lifted from the pages of a thriller. An ex-wrestler, he has lived in Italy, Malta and Switzerland. Interpol sources say Pavlov helped set up a variety of businesses and bank accounts for Russian mobs across Europe. His Russian connections assisted him in securing the top spot in the Multi group, one of Bulgaria's two largest mafia organizations.

Under his control, the Multi group has made major strides in establishing itself as a legitimate business and is well-represented in the gas, electronics and steel sectors. …

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