PURGES IN BTC PRECEDE THE PRIVATISATION DEAL
Last week it became clear that another head of a regional division of the Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) has been fired. Rositza Vassileva, head of Sofia Telephone and Telegraph Communications, was dismissed on September 18, but no concrete reasons were announced. Mrs. Vassileva refused to comment, but quoted the recently concluded inspection of the State Financial Control Agency. The auditors concluded that during the whole period of Mrs. Vassileva's ruling the company performed well, digitalized its network, and made profit. For the year 2001 alone that profit exceeded BGN158MN, which is 89.77% of the BGN179MN reported as profit of BTC as a whole. The dismissal is purely political. It was decided in the beginning of the summer, sources familiar with the internal affairs of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) revealed. The concrete motive for eliminating the Sofia regional director was that she had provided the Democratzia daily with pay-free conversations, to the amount of BGN300,000. Rossitza Vassileva confirmed she really did it, but explained that the decision for the sponsorship was taken by BTC headquarters and not by its Sofia division.Earlier, BTC dismissed Anelia Raeva, head of the company's Plovdiv-based branch. The decision was never explained. Unofficially, however, it became clear that Mrs. Raeva had become a victim of her close relations with the Plovdiv former governor, Andon Andonov.The same happened in Bourgas. But the local head of BTC's regional department, Valentin Haralanov, refused to resign and declared in public he had affected the economic interests of a cable operator related to the Transport Minister Plamen Petrov.According to sources within the company, however, the number of dismissals has something to do with the forthcoming sale of the BTC and with the desire of the ruling circles to position their favourites on key posts in the company. Other sources remind of the plans made by BTC former directors Lyubomir Kolarov and Mihail Danov in 1995 and 1996. They aimed at breaking the company into several regional branches and quickly selling the most profitable among them (those in Sofia, Plovdiv, Bourgas and Varna). However, in the end of 2002 this will hardly be possible, even if the sale of BTC fails again, experts underline. At least because the separation will take one or two years. Until then both the domestic telecom market and the participants in it will have changed.