Country Listing

Bulgaria Table of Contents



More than 700,000 crimes were reported in Bulgaria between 1970 and 1990. The People's Militia reported an annual rate of 570 crimes per 100,000 people in 1989. Beginning in 1990, the incidence of crime increased sharply, however. Compared with the 15,000 crimes committed during 1989, the People's Militia received reports of more than 4,600 crimes in Sofia alone during the first six months of 1990. Approximately 70 percent of these crimes were committed by repeat offenders, and a very high percentage were petty crimes against property. By 1989, however, homicides had increased by 30 percent, burglaries by nearly 40 percent, and rapes by 45 percent. Organized crime was increasingly evident; more than ten criminal organizations reportedly operated in Sofia. They were involved in black-market activities and were reputed to have connections to organized crime in other countries.

In an effort to curb another aspect of the crime problem, the National Assembly appealed in 1990 for citizens to surrender their unregistered firearms and ammunition. The People's Militia reported that 145 crimes were committed with firearms between 1985 and 1989 and that in that period 60 people were killed and more than 120 people were wounded by illegal firearms. In 1989 authorities seized nearly 800 illegal firearms, and 2,500 firearms were surrendered voluntarily. That year approximately 85,000 firearms had been registered in the country. In 1990 the government revoked a law allowing party members and government officials to carry weapons.

Smuggling of drugs, arms, and other contraband was a persistent problem during and after the Zhivkov regime. Allegations of official involvement in smuggling appeared frequently in the foreign press (see Arms Sales , this ch.). Government spokespersons denied these charges and routinely asserted that the geographical situation of Bulgaria at the crossroads of Europe and Asia made it a natural route for illegal trade. They pointed out instances in which customs officials arrested foreigners, particularly Turks and Yugoslavs, passing through Bulgaria with illegal narcotics bound for Europe. The press noted cooperation between customs authorities and the United Nations (UN) Commission for Narcotics Control in efforts to curtail international drug trafficking. The UN supported these efforts by funding construction of modern border checkpoints in Bulgaria. The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) also certified that Bulgaria had a good record in international law enforcement. In Bulgaria the Directorate of Customs and Customs Control of the Ministry of Finance was responsible for preventing drug trafficking; however, the People's Militia and Border Troops also were active in the counternarcotics effort.

Data as of June 1992