Minister arrested after investigation

Bulgaria’s minister for environment and water resources, Neno Dimov, was placed in 24-hour custody, the office of the Prosecutor General said on Thursday (9 January). The development took place after an investigative report exposed mismanagement that left the city of Pernik without drinking water.

Earlier on Thursday, Dimov was questioned for several hours by the specialised prosecutor’s office about the water crisis in Pernik and the import of garbage in Bulgaria, mainly from Italy.

Italian authorities are investigating a mafia scheme under which Bulgaria imports garbage from Italy, reportedly to be burnt in power plants. At the same time, Bulgaria is experiencing a catastrophic situation with air pollution.

By the time of publishing this article, Dimov has not been indicted, nor has he made any public statement. He represents the nationalist grouping “United Patriots”, a junior coalition party to Boyko Borissov’s GERB party, which is affiliated to the European People’s Party (EPP).

The report, accompanied by a 20-minute video, is based on satellite pictures under the EU Copernicus project, which reveal that the water of Studena dam near Pernik had already reached alarming lows in August 2019, but the authorities did not react to the threat.

Other documents illustrate the inadequate reactions by Dimov, whose role by law is to manage the use of water in Bulgaria’s dams. In this case, several months of inactivity of the authorities led to the water crisis in the Pernik region and brought the city on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.

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