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Bulgaria: Former Ambassador, DZU Executive Blocked From Leaving Country

By Georgi Papakotchev and Ron Synovitz

Sofia, 25 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Former Bulgarian ambassador to the United States Ognian Pishev says border guards at Sofia International Airport prevented him from leaving the country Friday.

Pishev was scheduled to attend a London University conference on Bulgaria's current economic and political crisis. He says border officials told him they had a confidential order from the interior ministry to prevent his departure.

Pishev, Sofia's ambassador in Washington from 1988 to 1994, is under investigation in Sofia for the alleged illegal transfer of about $2 million from the state-owned DZU computer and compact disc factory in Stara Zagora. Pishev had been the board chairman at DZU until 1994. No charges have been formally filed against him or five other former DZU officials implicated in the case.

The international music industry's anti-piracy group, the IFPI, says DZU is Europe's largest producer of pirate audio compact discs.

DZU was a secretive military computer research facility during the Soviet era and now has Eastern Europe's most sophisticated technology for producing compact discs. RFE/RL has confirmed that the plant produces illegal copies of popular music CDs.

Washington recently warned Bulgaria that it must clean up the state-owned and private firms that steal intellectual property.