Editor’s Note: This article, printed in October, gives some background to the case of Bulgarian Roma Tsar Kiro, who was sentenced on Jan. 23 2012 to prison for 3.5 years, for uttering death threats linked to the hit-and-run of a 19-year-old Bulgarian last fall. Anti-mobster sentiment mixes with far-right racism.
Two weeks ago, Angel Petrov, a 19-year-old, was killed in an apparent hit-and-run incident in the village of Katunitsa. The driver of the car was an associate of Kiril Rashkov, a local Roma (gypsy) bigwig. Tsar Kiro, as he likes to be known, is a wealthy man with no obvious source of income. (He has been accused of running a moonshine operation, but was last charged with a crime back in the communist era.) Enraged villagers began protesting outside Mr Rashkov’s palatial residence. Things turned particularly nasty when they were joined by far-right football supporters from nearby Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second city. The demonstrators torched the building, forcing local police to escort Mr Rashkov and his family to safety.