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BBC: crime gangs threaten Bulgaria's cultural heritage

Date: 25.04.2006

The rich Bulgarian cultural heritage is threatened by organized crime gangs, a BBC report cited by the state radio BNR says.

The treasure-hunters are robbing ancient graves before the archeologists had a chance of making the needed excavations and sell them to the bidders offering the highest price, the report adds.

As part of ancient Thracia, known for its talented craftsmen, Bulgaria boasts a rich heritage of pieces of the ancient art, which are very well preserved. "This is very important for all of us, because it is part of our individuality. If you know that you have such a rich past, you feel that you have a rich contemporary life and that you will have a rich future," an employee from a Bulgarian museum told the BBC in the report.

In the report of Dominic Hughes Bulgarian archeologist doctor Georgi Kitov explains how he once got to excavations where nothing but the footsteps of the gang was left. "We can't stop the treasure-hunters, because our laws are not strict enough, and the robbers are always better financed than the archeologists", Kitov added.

As Bulgaria is relatively poor country and the crime gangs offer high rewards, the archeologists fear that the money is stringer than the national pride, the BBC report concluded.

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