Politics is played to the death in Bulgaria, where the lives of politicians can be as cheap as spent bullets and murky business groups wage a murderous struggle for their cut of everything from real estate deals to millions in European aid.
During a furious political season last year, the home of the chairwoman of a municipal electoral committee was set on fire and the garages of mayors were firebombed. The mayor of a golf resort town in central Bulgaria was shot and killed with seven bullets - the same number that killed the wealthy city council chairman in the outwardly idyllic Black Sea port of Nessebar.
"Other countries have the mafia," said Atanas Atanasov, a member of Parliament and a former counterintelligence chief who is a magnet for leaked documents exposing corruption. "In Bulgaria, the mafia has the country."
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