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(DF) Prosecutors Hint of Possible Nationalization of Antiques Collection of Fugitive Gambling Mogul Bojkov

October 6 (BTA) - The prosecution service hinted Tuesday of possible nationalization of the antiques collection of fugitive gambling mogul Vassil Bojkov. This transpired from a statement of the Prosecutor General's Spokesperson, Siyka Mileva, at a news conference where she announced the end of a search at Bojkov's private antique museum and the cataloguing of his collection. The investigators began their work in the museum in late January as part of a case against an organized crime group believed to have been led by Bojkov. Each artefact has been photographed in the presence of representatives of the Culture Ministry, the National Art Gallery and the foundation in charge of Bojkov's collection. Out of over 6,778 items found by investigators, only 212 were previously registered. The prosecuting magistracy considers the unregistered items illegally acquired. The prosecutors believe that the 212 registered collection items had been intentionally undervalued to make it possible to register them as not being national heritage. Mileva said the prosecution service will seek advice from international experts about the collection and if there is enough evidence of illegal acquisition and undervaluing, "measures will be taken to declare the Bojkov collection public state property". Mileva also said that while in Bojkov's possession, artefacts were being stored contrary to all international standards: in boxes and bags. Notes indicating various locations across Bulgaria have led the prosecutors to the conclusion that the corresponding artefacts were acquired illegally from treasure hunters, Mileva said. In a Facebook post following the news briefing of the prosecution service, Bojkov likened the prosecution service to the Taliban in their treatment of artefacts and said they were acting on orders from businessman/politician Delyan Peevski. "Today, in yet another violation of Bulgarian and international law, they said they are going to nalizationalize the collection. If we assume that Peevski and [prosecutor general Ivan] Geshev are the State, it means that the State wants to deprive Bulgarian people of the collection for their personal benefit." Bojkov also said that many of the items in his collection have been damaged during the search and cataloguing and others have been offered for sale on the international markets. Bojkov was once considered to be the wealthiest Bulgarian with assets estimated between 1.5 and 3 billion leva. In early 2020, he was charged with evasion of more than 700 million leva in gambling licensing fees, money laundering, extortion, bribery, murder, rape, leading an organized crime group since 2014, trading in influence, and unlawful possession of cultural assets. In July, he was also charged with crimes against the Republic. Bojkov left the country before the full-scale crackdown against him and is now in the United Arab Emirates, from where Bulgaria is seeking his extradition. In a Bulgarian National Television interview in February 2020, history Professor Ivan Marazov who is a member of Bojkov's Thrace Foundation, said Bojkov owns the world's best collection of antique toreutics. "It includes numerous rhytons, many more than in all museums worldwide. It also features numerous kylixes and phiales. The collection gives an idea of the development of that art not just in ancient Thrace but across the ancient world. That is why I believe that its study and its place in academia is of exceptional significance." RY/DS 07 Octobre 2020, 08:00

Source: BTA Free News

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