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Bulgaria. Former Tsar Simeon Sakskoburgggotsky wins a property dispute in Strasbourg

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The former Bulgarian Tsar Simeon Sakskoburgggotsky won a property dispute with the Bulgarian state at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Tuesday. According to the ruling announced on Tuesday, the Bulgarian parliament should lift the moratorium imposed 12 years ago on commercial forest use in the Rila Mountains in the south of the country.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Bulgaria violated the property rights of Simeon Sakskoburggotsky’s family by imposing a moratorium on the commercial use of the forests in the Rila Mountains of southern Bulgaria recovered by the Sakskoburggs several years earlier.

The right of the former Tsar and his sister to a fair trial in the country was also violated, according to the ECtHR. The decision on a moratorium on forest use was adopted by parliament, and Simeon and his sister could not challenge it in court.


Simeon SakskoburgggotskyFERNANDO ALVARADO / EPA / PAP

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Bulgarian parliament called to lift the moratorium

The ECtHR adopted the judgment unanimously. However, it did not agree to award the plaintiffs in the amount sought by them in the amount of approximately one million euros. It was only decided to reimburse them for procedural costs.

At the same time, the tribunal gave Bulgaria and the ex-tsar’s family six months to come to an agreement on the settlement of financial disputes. According to the ruling announced on Tuesday, the Bulgarian parliament should lift the moratorium imposed 12 years ago.

The regulation was implemented in 2009 shortly after the party of then-prime minister Boyko Borisov GERB took power on the basis of information that Sakskoburggotsky, as prime minister, used his official position to accelerate the recovery of forests.

The former tsar regains his Bulgarian property

The former tsar and his sister regained the property of their father, Tsar Boris III in 1998, when the Bulgarian Constitutional Court declared the 1946 law on the nationalization of the property of the tsarist family unconstitutional. The Court issued a general judgment, and Sakskoburgggotsky’s property was regained under separate court judgments, most of which were issued in 2001-2005, when he was prime minister.

Simeon and his sister then recovered Vran’s palace near Sofia, two mansions in the Rila Mountains, one in the town of Bania in central Bulgaria, plots of land in Sofia, large amounts of land and forests. It is believed that the former monarch used his position for his own benefit.

Property dispute with Bulgaria

The legality of the restitution of the property of the tsarist family was questioned in 2009, when it was revealed that one piece of legislation made a mistake and that Sakskoburgggotsky was returned 450 hectares of forests that did not belong to his family.

The state first demanded the return of these 450 hectares, then all the forests, and then also the palace near Sofia and two manor houses. Sakskoburggotsky ultimately lost the cases concerning the last two properties.

According to Sakskoburgggotsky’s defenders, the claim that the estates do not belong to the tsarist family is absurd. If they had belonged to the state, they would not have been nationalized in 1946. As an argument, the defenders of the ex-tsar cite the fact that the two official tsarist residences, the palaces in Sofia and Evksinograd near Varna, were not nationalized under the 1946 Act, as they belonged to the state and were official residences of the head of state.

Main photo source: FERNANDO ALVARADO / EPA / PAP

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