Document Dilemma:

Travel Across Region Brings Legal Ordeal or Costly Risks

One man said the way documents are granted must be examined “because the Bulgarian image is being destroyed and a despicable trade environment has resulted.”
Hopes for reform lie in a new national visa center and new processes, and with a new, biometric passport. But a lawyer said skills to crack biometric codes lie with young hackers.
“Do not worry,” said the woman. “You will get a valid visa. You will be able to enter Italy…it’s your business whether you come back or not.” Another said, “Only fools are rejected.”
To understand the system, go beyond the doors at The Central Telegraph. Without spending time in embassy lines, travel is possible virtually everywhere. Problems fade for those with money.
One company representative said that the €240 package carried a 99.9 % guarantee of getting a visa, despite prior problems. He joked, “Only the coroner can give a 100% guarantee.”
Bosnia (BiH)
For five years the Prosecutors’ Offices and police in BiH have continuously uncovered the masterminds and associates involved in counterfeiting of Bosnian identity papers.
Honorary Consuls:
They usually are chosen by a foreign country to represent it and its business interests in their country. They usually get the positions through wealth, contacts and business skills. Can even these positions be bought?"
Visa Woes, Fraud Infest Region PDF Print E-mail
Written by OCCRP   

Documents seized in a police acton in October 2009 in Sofia and four other Bulgarian towns. --Courtesy of Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior.
In Ukraine, a folk ensemble danced under the windows of an embassy to prove they should get visas so they could participate in a cultural festival.

In Russia, Serbia, and other countries throughout the region, people with criminal pasts or a willingness to circumvent rules don’t dance and, in fact, rarely even go to the embassies. They avoid the endless lines that ordinary people in Eastern Europe endure, and they are not faced with countless requests for one more document, an endeavor that sometimes results in rejection for travel.

In today’s globalized society, most ordinary people face bureaucratic obstacles to getting work visas, passports and residency papers. Most shrug off the lines, the interviews and the hassle as a necessary part of a system that is designed to protect national interests, to regulate labor resources and to create barriers to criminals and terrorists.
Read more: Visa Woes, Fraud Infest Region
What’s Available on the Dark Side PDF Print E-mail
Written by OCCRP   
Milorad Lukovic, also known as Milorad Ulemek, but popularly known as the mobster "Legija (the legionnaire)" is shown in a diplomatic passport from the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic.
Investigations across the region by reporters with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have turned up many ways to bend or break the law in obtaining identity documents, as opposed to using the regular legal procedures.

Here are just a few of their findings:

• In Moldova, those who desire a Schengen visa may arrange it for €2,000 and just supply a passport and an ID card, and one company said its representatives take care of all other necessary documents, and solve visa problems through the Kiev consulate. They even teach applicants how to answer interview questions at the consulate.

• In Russia, where the Federal Migration Service says 9,902 people in the country were revealed to have forged documents in the first 10 months of 2009, compared to 6,475 in all of 2008, a six-month business multi-visa to Germany is available from one country for €900. No visit to the embassy is entailed. The official visa, which would require many other documents and at least one visit to an embassy, would be €35-€60.
Read more: What’s Available on the Dark Side
RUSSIA: A Price for Everything PDF Print E-mail
Written by OCCRP   

The doorway of The Central Telegraph, with the Soviet State symbol still hanging above it, opens into a world of visa possibilities. --by Julia Balashova, Novaya Gazeta
About 500 meters from the Kremlin and Red Square on Tverskaya Street squats the 52,200 square-meter grey building of The Central Telegraph. Granite steps lead to a central entrance and above the glass of the massive wooden front doors hangs an old Soviet State emblem with the prominent terrestrial globe and stylized hammer and sickle below it.

From this building, it is possible to get nearly anywhere in the world. With a tourist or business visa in a passport and without spending time in line or even in an embassy, travel is possible to Europe, Australia, South America, Asia and North America. There are few problems for anyone with enough money.

An investigation by reporters for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) shows that money and connections are enough to provide not only a passport and a visa, but all the necessary documents for unrestricted travel all over the world. They also can secure a second citizenship and a second passport and even a second passport under a different name.
Read more: RUSSIA: A Price for Everything
Criminals with Counterfeited Bosnian Documents PDF Print E-mail
Written by OCCRP   
Boris Grubešić, the spokesman for the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, said people with fake documents are most often discovered at border crossings. Foto by CIN

For five years the Prosecutors’ Offices and police in BiH have continuously uncovered the masterminds and associates involved in counterfeiting of Bosnian identity papers. Many abuses have been reported and among those who got false documents were criminals and citizens from neighboring countries.

By The Center for Investigative Reporting

Hundreds of people, including criminals, managed to obtain counterfeited Bosnian documents. These fake documents enable them to avoid justice, police and prison but also to cross borders freely, to obtain passports and visas, and abuse them in many other ways.

"This is how terrorists, war criminals, drug dealers, car thieves, people who commit business fraud, people who engage in economic criminal can hide. This is how they can register various citizens associations, private companies," said Gojko Vasić, a head of the Republika Srpska (RS) Crime Police.

Over the past two years, the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) has conducted a wide investigation into forgeries and illegal issuing of Citizens' Identity Protection System (CIPS) documents.

Read more: Criminals with Counterfeited Bosnian Documents