According to COUNTRYAAH, Bulgaria has a population of 7 million (2019). Bulgaria ended up in windy weather in the EU at the beginning of the year, when it nominated its Foreign Minister Rumiana Jeleva as EU Commissioner. She was subjected to a tough hearing in the European Parliament. Jeleva was found ignorant of humanitarian emergency aid, for which she would be responsible. In addition, there were accusations that she was lying about a part-ownership in a consulting company devoted to tax planning, and it was rumored that her husband had mafia contacts. Jeleva resigned from both the EU candidacy and the post of Foreign Minister. Instead, the European Commissioner became Kristalina Georgieva, who previously worked for the World Bank. Defense Minister Nikolaj Mladenov became new Foreign Minister.
In January, investigative journalist and radio reporter Boris Tsankov was murdered, who reported on mafia groups and their connections with politicians. He was shot dead in the capital Sofia in what appeared to be a contract murder. In that case, it was the first reported since Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s entry last year, when he pledged to take action against organized crime. The government’s inability to cope with mafia activities and corruption led to the EU freezing its contribution to Bulgaria in 2008.
A sign that some attempts are still being made to combat financial crime came when a businessman, his wife and four employees were convicted of having embezzled millions in agricultural aid from the EU. They were sentenced to between 5 and 12 years in prison.
Despite this, there was a setback towards the end of the year, when it became clear that France and the UK were planning to block Bulgaria’s entry into the EU passport Schengen, due to the corruption problems.
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Sergei Stanisev was indicted in June for retaining seven secretly stamped reports from his reign of 2005–09. According to Borisov, the documents concerned crime. Stanisev claimed that the prosecution was politically motivated.