Skip To Content
Breaking News

American Jewish Committee Official Quits Over $400 Shoplifted Cosmetics

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — An American Jewish Committee official in Warsaw — who twice served as Bulgaria’s ambassador to the United States —  was detained for stealing cosmetics at the Polish capital’s airport.

Police said Elena Poptodorova, the director of the AJC’s Warsaw office for Central Europe, admitted her guilt after stepping out of a duty-free shop on Monday holding cosmetics worth about $400. She announced her resignation from AJC in the wake of the incident.

The Polish media reported that Poptodorova explained the situation as a misunderstanding. According to reports, Poptodorova said she had the cosmetics in her hand when her seriously ill mother called on her cellphone. She answered the phone and stepped out of the shop to continue the conversation, not noticing that she still had the products in her hand.

“The woman pleaded guilty, gave back the stolen items, voluntarily surrendered punishment and after that she was dismissed,” Tomasz Oleszczuk of the press section of the Metropolitan Police in Warsaw told JTA.

On Wednesday, AJC sent a statement to JTA saying it was accepting the resignation of Poptodorova, who had headed the Central Europe office in Warsaw since September. According to the statement, Poptodorova told the Jewish advocacy organization that she was “stepping down for personal reasons.” AJC said Agnieszka Markiewicz would serve as acting director.

From 2002 to 2008 and 2010 to 2016, Poptodorova was the Bulgarian ambassador to Washington. Previously she was a personal translator for Todor Zhivkov, the communist prime minister of Bulgaria.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.