BULGARIAN CITIZENSHIP FOR SPECIAL MERITS
Bulgarian citizenship stripped from Russian billionaire, following a report by the Anti-Corruption Fund and institutional partners of the State Agency of National Security
Serguei Adoniev, a Russian citizen featured in the World’s Billionaires list by Forbes magazine, has been stripped of his Bulgarian citizenship, following a report by the Anti-corruption Fund (ACF) and subsequent reports by foreign counterparts to the State Agency for National Security (DANS). Adoniev lost his right to citizenship for failing to disclose information regarding a 1998 conviction by a US court in the course of his naturalization procedure, which had been initiated on the grounds of “special merits” to the Bulgarian state. In the US, Adoniev had been convicted on charges of fraud, money laundering, and violating a trade embargo against third countries.
Bulgarian authorities were in the dark regarding Adoniev’s conviction since 2008 − the year his naturalization permit was issued − until January 2018 when ACF filed its report.
Today, 22 January 2018, Radio Free Europe Bulgaria broke the news of the authorities’ decision to strip Adoniev of citizenship. The information was confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Justice, responsible for Bulgarian citizenship.
According to the minister, the decision was made in 2018 “following a report by partner organizations”. This report, however, was preceded by a January 2018 report, which ACF filed with the Bulgarian Presidency and the State Agency for National Security.
ACF found out about the Bulgarian authorities’ decision several weeks ago. However, we were not able to confirm the information via the mechanism offered by the Access to Information Act with the explanation that the documents contained personal data of the affected parties. This was the reason why we collaborated with Radio Free Europe Bulgaria who were able to obtain an official response in their capacity as journalists.
The Adoniev case and DANS’ failure to react to our signal, question the Agency’s effectiveness in terms of its special functions to oversee and verify naturalization procedures as per the Bulgarian Citizenship Act.
All US court records are available online, including all information about the USA v. Adoniev case. All the information about this case can be obtained through the court archives in a matter of minutes. Adoniev’s official page on Wikipedia also features information about his conviction in the US. Still, no checks were performed over a period of a decade, until the ACF report and subsequent media announcements.
We call on the Bulgarian Parliament, including the relevant parliamentary committees, to answer the questions who, when, and where failed to carry out the necessary screening during the naturalization process and ten years later.
Serguei Adoniev is a famous businessman and philanthropist in Russia and internationally. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune in 2018 at some US$800 million. In 2018, he was officially mentioned as a donor to the Ksenia Sobchav presidential campaign. Adoniev also backs the popular Russian publication Novoye Vremya.
Publications in Russian media claim Adoniev’s telecommunications business enjoys the direct protection of President Vladimir Putin. Adoniev features among a group of 30 businessmen invited to the Kremlin to discuss key points regarding Rusia’s economic strategy. He is also the man behind Yotaphone, Russia’s answer to the iPhone.
ACF believes that although his Bulgarian citizenship has been revoked, Adoniev will still have a right to reside in the EU because his wife and children continue to hold Bulgarian passports.