The State of Capture in Bulgaria: The Elusive Quest for Anti-Corruption Results

Bulgaria is facing a critical juncture in its endeavors to uphold the rule of law. In 2023, administrative corruption reached alarming highs for a third time in the past two decades – 30% of individuals and a quarter of businesses reported increased pressure and involvement in corruption. The lack of significant breakthroughs in signature cases of state capture has been compounded by newly emerging evidence of criminal and political influence peddling in the judiciary, and by incapacitated regulatory and specialised anti-corruption institutions. Russia is actively exploiting these weaknesses, wielding corruption as a weapon to undermine Bulgaria’s economic security and democratic institutions. Future-proofing the country’s democracy requires prioritising two concurrent policies: exposing and targeting the mechanisms behind Russia-related state capture, and increasing anti-money laundering enforcement, with a particular focus on illicit financial flows in the energy sector.

These findings were presented at a public discussion on 16 April 2024. Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Norbert Beckmann-Dierkes, Director of Konrad Adenauer Foundation Sofia Office, and Yordanka Chobanova, Head of the European Commission’s Representation in Bulgaria delivered the opening remarks. Among the speakers were also Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director, Dr. Todor Galev, Director of Research, Martin Vladimirov, Director of Energy and Climate Program, Dimitar Markov, Director of Law Program, and Atanas Rusev, Director of Security Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, as well as Jes Brogaard Nielsen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark in Bulgaria.



Policy brief

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3 Yordanka Chobanova  2 Norbert Beckmann Dierkes  5 Ruslan Stefanov

6 Todor Galev  7 Martin Vladimirov Dimitar Markov Atanas Rusev 8 Todor Galev Martin Vladimirov

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