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Bulgaria: Zhivkov Challenges Amount Of Foreign Debt

Sofia, 20 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's former state and Party leader Todor Zhivkov says the amount of foreign debt when his rule ended was only $2 billion -- not the $10 billion frequently cited by officials.

And in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL in Sofia, Zhivkov further asserts that the other money was stolen by former associates from the Party leadership who organized his replacement at the end of 1989.

Zhivkov says this discrepancy has been kept secret. And he also says a moratorium on Bulgaria's payment of interest on the debt was unnecessary, as cash was available in foreign accounts. Our Sofia correspondent reports Zhivkov on Monday specifically mentioned former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov as among those responsible for what Zhivkov alleges was the disappearance of the foreign accounts.

Lukanov was murdered in Sofia last month. He was twice prime minister of Socialist governments after Zhivkov.

Zhivkov was aquitted last year on charges of misappropriating state funds and abuse of office. He remains under house arrest near Sofia awaiting trial on other charges related to his time in power.