Bulgarians and Romanians have been under the scornful eye of the British media for quite some time. Eastern European criminality in Britain has become a medium through which nationalist politicians have demonised an entire ethnic minority as a means of promoting their repressive immigration policies. What started as a problem has now become merely a political tool. This is a recent phenomenon, partially related to Bulgaria and Romania’s entry into the EU.

A decade ago, this was not the case – Bulgarian officials seemed more concerned with the influx of Bulgarian crime in the UK than their British counterparts. This was when there was a real problem – in terms of crime, not immigration. Take the late Konstantin ‘Samokoveca’ Dimitrov as an example – a Bulgarian drugs smuggler who owned two companies registered in the UK, Boro Group Travel and Gold Standard Supplies, and trafficked heroin into Britain. He, in 1998, was granted a visa, allowing him to travel freely to the UK and live there. In regards to Dimitrov, in 2004, Valentin Dobrev – the Bulgarian ambassador in London – said the Government did “absolutely nothing” about Bulgarian crime in its own country. He added: “We requested help on several criminal cases where Bulgarian individuals living in the UK were involved, but there was absolutely no reply…There were several cases where we wanted to bring people to justice, or at least to testify in court about the accusation. We were looking for them. But I am afraid we did not get the best co-operation from the British end.”

So eleven years later, what’s happening? There has been a huge increase, in recent years, in the popularity of far-right political parties in the UK, such as Ukip, as a result of an influx of migrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Ukip, although milder in nature than groups such as the BNP and the EDL, uses scaremongering tactics distract a population, increasingly disillusioned with mainstream politics, from the real problems at hand, and focus their attention on immigration. When Bulgarians and Romanians come to work, Britons are told that they are stealing their jobs. When Bulgarians and Romanians steal a purse, Britons are told that they are here to steal our wallets and will bring nothing but crime to the UK. These tactics have entered into mainstream politics as a result of the disillusionment of the British population with passive immigration policies. Indeed, last year, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, in reference to the removal of work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians in the UK, said: “We are importing a wave of Bulgarian and Romanian crime”. In reality, official statistics prove otherwise. There was a 15.7% reduction in Romanian and a 3.4% in Bulgarian crime from 2013 to 2014. However, the official statistics do not stop politicians such as Nigel Farage (leader of the Ukip party) from demonizing both Bulgarians and Romanians, whom many Britons hear about merely from the mouths of far-right politicians such as Farage.

George Popov, Intern at RM


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