Zhivkov 'ready for life behind bars'

SOFIA (Reuter) - Bulgaria's former Communist dictator, Todor Zhivkov, is to go to jail after the supreme court rejected his appeal against a seven-year sentence for embezzlement, BTA news agency said.

'My lawyer has not contacted me yet and I do not know what the legal procedures are, but if I have to go to prison I will,' Zhivkov said. BTA said that the sentence, which was imposed by the five-member court, was effective immediately. Court officials were not immediately available to comment. Zhivkov, who ruled for 35 years until he was ousted in 1989, was sentenced last year for embezzling 21.5m levs (then about pounds 16m) of public funds.

The charges involved the buying of luxury flats and Western cars and distribution of entertainment allowances for Zhivkov's family and aides.