Extra-legal protection of property rights and quasi law enforcement practices in Bulgaria (1992–1999)  Cover Image

Extra-legal protection of property rights and quasi law enforcement practices in Bulgaria (1992–1999)
Extra-legal protection of property rights and quasi law enforcement practices in Bulgaria (1992–1999)

Author(s): Marina Tzvetkova
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence
Published by: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS)
Keywords: relationships between the state; the elites; law enforcement and organised crime

Summary/Abstract: After 1989 the nature of relations between economic agents in Bulgaria changed fast while the public institutions designed to protect property rights followed this development at a much slower pace. While transition to market economy entailed widespread transfer of state owned assets into private hands, this transfer was not matched with either the social and legal norms or the state institutions protecting the integrity of market transactions and property rights (Hill, 2003: 8). According to Stanchev, more than 80% of businessmen interviewed in 1995 were of the opinion that private property rights were not clearly and firmly defined and protected (1996: 7). In addition, Bulgarians had little market experience by 1989 and “there were no existing norms within the business community regarding appropriate behaviours for the new circumstances” after 1989 (Koford and Miller, 1995: 15). Informal institutions, such as business associations and reputation-based mechanisms in the regulation of business transactions were yet to develop. In this environment extra-legal protection in the form of quasi law enforcement practices emerged. Thus, private security firms linked to organised crime became the main alternative to formal mechanisms for the protection of property rights. In this paper I first look at the demand for extra-legal protection following 1989 and the role of private security firms and criminal organisations in supplying services such as dispute settlement, debt collection and guarantees to business deals. The discussion is structured according to the most common arrangements and provisions. I then explore whether and how the elites in post-communist Bulgaria furthered the social conditions necessary for mafiastyle organisations and extra-legal protection to flourish. The paper looks at the individual involvement of representatives of the elites and law enforce ment with organised crime and examines the broader relationships between the state, the elites, law enforcement and organised crime. The evidence, which I explore in the paper, suggests that mafia-style organisations would not have become so powerful (and extra-legal practices so widespread) in the 1990s had they not benefited from close association with members of the economic and political elites in Bulgaria.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 1-32
  • Page Count: 32
  • Language: English