One year on: Yavor Zlatanov, the missing voice from "The Eight Dwarfs" story, speaks out in an interview with the Anti-Corruption Fund

One of the main protagonists of the “The Eight Dwarfs” story, the businessman Yavor Zlatanov, decided to speak in front of the camera in an interview with Nikolay Staykov and Andrey Yankulov from the Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF).

Zlatanov, the missing voice from the story, recounts his brutal encounters with the specialized justice system and his grave illness leading to a serious disability. In the interview of more than an hour and a half, he speaks in detail about being blackmailed into transferring his shares in the family business to the wife of former magistrate Petyo Petrov, known as “Petyo the Euro;” the price at which the Specialized Court “granted” him freedom from pre-trial detention; and what happened to his seized personal assets (cash and gold) worth more than BGN 5 million.

A particularly important is his account about the person giving the orders at the Governmental Hospital during the state of emergency in 2020. Yavor Zlatanov was admitted to the hospital as an emergency and there he signed the documents for the transfer of his company shares. Zlatanov also speaks about the role of attorneys, notaries, and the former Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, who also appear to be involved in the story.

Last year, the Anti-Corruption Fund’s four-part investigation “The Eight Dwarfs” (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four; “The Whole Story of the Eight Dwarfs – Everything We Couldn’t Tell in the Movies”) revealed evidence about cases of securing undue influence in judicial conflicts in Bulgaria and involving the law enforcement institutions in attempts at business capture. It also showed evidence of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office’s improper disposal of confiscated valuables.

After the publication of Part I in July 2020, the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office launched only a preliminary check to decide whether to launch a real investigation. The ACF assisted it and provided all the available materials and documents on the case. So far, the investigation does not seem to be completed even though all legal deadlines have expired. One of the prosecutors allegedly involved in the case, Dimitar Frantisek Petrov, was promoted by secondment to the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office in March 2021. The Ministry of Interior’s checks have so far failed to establish the reasons for the permanent police protection at the restaurant “The Eight Dwarfs” on “Sándor Petőfi” str. (the restaurant now has a different name), where Petyo Petrov “The Euro” held his meetings, for at least two years before its closure.

The “Eight Dwarfs” story so far:

The Izamet group of companies, the largest elevators manufacturer in Bulgaria, with factories in Sofia and Dupnitsa and an annual turnover of over BGN 20 million, was jointly managed by father and son Ilia and Yavor Zlatanov. After a legal dispute between the two over the companies’ assets and management, Iliya Zlatanov turned for assistance in resolving the conflict in his favor to the former head of the Sofia Investigation department Petyo Petrov, known as “Petyo the Euro.” According to Zlatanov’s allegations, at the meeting in the restaurant “The Eight Dwarfs,” attorney Petrov promised to assist for the prosecution’s swift intervention in his favor. Soon after, Yavor Zlatanov was detained as part of an organized criminal group in a case brought by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office.

You can watch “Yavor Zlatanov, the missing voice from The Eight Dwarfs, Part 1” here.

Stay tuned for the second part of ACF’s Nikolay Staykov and Andrey Yankulov’s interview with Yavor Zlatanov and his wife Emilia Zlatanova later this week.

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