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Bulgaria: Opposition Demands Minister's Resignation

Sofia, 20 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The leader of Bulgaria's opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) is demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev today in a wire-tapping scandal.

Military Prosecutor Velyo Velev yesterday announced evidence that police had placed microphones at the UDF headquarters during the recent presidential campaign. UDF leader Ivan Kostov says he expects Dobrev to resign immediately.

Dobrev initially had dismissed the allegations and said he would resign if it was proven that police were involved.

The timing of the prosecutor's statement could be critical for Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. The Socialist Party opens a weekend congress tomorrow to decide on Videnov's future. Dobrev, widely seen as the strong man in Videnov's cabinet, is expected to play a key role at the congress. Opinion polls this week give Videnov a mere four-percent approval rating.

By raising the case before military prosecutors, the UDF has underscored its charges that growing organized crime in the country is linked directly to the police and Videnov's cabinet.

Meanwhile, the deputy head of a parliamentary committee on corruption yesterday demanded investigations into Videnov's business links with secretive firms in the "Orion Group." UDF parliamentarian Edvin Sugarev says Videnov and six other high-level officials helped Orion companies profit at the expense of "the state, private individuals and agricultural cooperatives."