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Bulgaria Gets New Environment Minister Amid Water Crisis

Emil Dimitrov

SOFIA -- Bulgaria's lawmakers have approved Emil Dimitrov as environment and water minister after his predecessor was charged with deliberate mismanagement of water supplies in a western region.

Parliament on January 15 approved Dimitrov by 111 votes to 96 against as the water crisis in and around the western town of Pernik has affected about 100,000 people for months and led to anti-government protests.

The former environment and water minister, Neno Dimov, resigned on January 10, a day after he was taken into custody following a round of questioning by investigators.

Prosecutors accuse him of providing water supplies to industrial users even when he had been informed that the water in a dam -- the only source of drinking water to Pernik and the surrounding area -- had seriously decreased.

Dimov, who faces up to 8 years in prison, has denied any wrongdoing and blamed the water crisis on dry weather and poor management of the local water facility.

With reporting by Reuters
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