Sunday, 31 January 2010

Stray dogs are a common sight in towns and cities in Bulgaria. There have been attacks on humans with gangs of dogs that have the courage in numbers. There has been a tagging process over the last year or so, but this doesn’t solve the problem. My own opinion is that stray dogs should be put down, but that is too politically sensitive and because of this more incidents of attacks from dog will persist.

Zoo director Ivan Ivanov says an unknown number of dogs leapt through a fence and attacked eight mouflon, four fallow deer and a doe.

Ivanov told The Associated Press on Saturday the incident occurred last week and was the most serious in the zoo's recent history. He believes freezing temperatures and hunger had driven the dogs.
Two fallow deer and one mouflon managed to escape and survived before security guards intervened. The dogs also escaped.
Ivanov said that new animals of the same species have been already transported to Sofia. The zoo is the largest in the country with 1,310 animals of 274 different species.


Saturday, 30 January 2010

Borisov Prevents Bulgaria's Tobacco Industry Going Up In Smoke

Good one Boyko! Take the bull by the horns and sort it out is exactly what he has done. Politics is too fancy sometimes Boyko Borisov certainly is not in that fold. It is so refreshing to see direct and effective action to resolve disputes like this. Tobacco is a big industry in Bulgaria and the money lost from disputes like this doesn't help in a recession. With a conspiring opposition party making waves Boyko did good.

Boyko Borisov, confirmed that he is set to replace the entire leadership of the so-called Tobacco Fund. The changes are forthcoming in the next few weeks while he is waiting only for the results of the probe.
The PM also said he had made an agreement with tobacco growers and producers that they designate 3-representatives to be appointed as members of the Monitoring Board of the Fund.
Borisov further reiterated his Wednesday statements, January 27th that the tensions among tobacco growers are politically motivated and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is behind the unrest.
The tobacco farmers had a mass protest rally scheduled for Thursday, but they canceled it after a midnight meeting with Borisov. (Between 15 000 and 20 000 Bulgarian tobacco producers were making preparations for a protest planned for Thursday morning. They were blockade the Danube Bridge crossing to Romania, and the border checkpoints with Greece.
“I made commitments and everything I promised is going on; we are working on getting more money,” Borisov declared.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry informed they have signed an agreement with the National Tobacco Growers Union 2009.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Less Beer Drunk By Bulgarians in 2009

67 litres of beer a year! That's just over a litre a week. I bet that this figure would equate more to the amount of home made rakia drunk than beer. The cost is paramount here and the price of beer rose last year. In a recession where do the brewers who have a mandate for increased profits year in year out what did they expect. Everyone I know here in Bulgaria drink at home, it is cheaper, like I said cost is everything here.

Five of the six major breweries in Bulgaria declared a decline in retail sales for 2009 amounting to about 11 per cent on average compared to the previous year, the Union of Bulgarian Breweries said in a media statement, cited by Bulgarian media, on January 28 2010.
The average Bulgarian consumes about 67 litres of beer annually, while total beer production in the country for 2009 amounted to five million hectolitres.
"The primary reason why we incurred a decrease this season is attributed to the decline of sales in restaurants and hotels, as more people opt for drinking at home," Vladimir Ivanov, head of the UBB, was quoted as saying by Dnevnik daily.
The industry expects further decline in 2010 in the range of three to five per cent.
Currently, 3070 people are employed in the Bulgarian beer industry, but breweries are contemplating further job cuts in 2010, Dnevnik said.
Total investments in the sector in 2009 amount to about 66 million leva, and there are eight major beer breweries in the country overall. BBU members are Bolyarka, Zagorka, Kamenitsa, Carlsberg Bulgaria and Lomsko Pivo.
The only brewery in Bulgaria that is not a member of the BBU is Ledenika Beer.
Beer sold in plastic bottles was consumers' preferred choice, with more than 48 per cent of the total market share, while beer sold in classic half-litre bottles amounted to 42.5 per cent. Draught beer accounted for a meagre 5.5 per cent of the total market, while canned beer was bottom with four per cent.
About 72 per cent of Bulgarians preferred to drink at home, compared to 28 per cent who opted for pubs and/or restaurants, Dnevnik said.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bulgarian Prostitutes A Successful Export For Good Reason

In my opinion and many others who specialise in the evaluation of the attractions of the opposite sex (yes, I am a straight male) Bulgaria have the most beautiful women in the world so they must made a handsome wad from their prostitution businesses illegal or otherwise. Playing to their strengths comes to mind.

The greater part of the prostitutes, working in the European cities, come from Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, Macedonian online news edition Forum writes on Wednesday, citing BBC.
A survey of prostitution across the EU, worked out by Amsterdam-based Tamper (European Network for HIV/STI Prevention and Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers), shows that after Bulgaria and Romania’s accession in the European Union in 2007, the traffic of prostitutes to East Europe has been facilitated.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Extreme Cold In Bulgaria - Spring WIll More Welcome Now

Tell me about it, we have no water due to frozen pipes and not likely to see any for at least a week with sub zero temperatures throughout. At work we are all working in sub-zero temperatures and no matter how many layers of clothing you wear the cold still penetrates into you like a dagger of ice. Extreme cold bring lots of problems but makes the spring all that much more appreciated when it comes. Thank God for rakia in the evenings to warm us all up.

Bulgaria was battered by extreme weather conditions over the past 24 hours, with temperatures reportedly plummeting to a record -32C in the north east.
Dobrich saw the mercury dip down to -26C while 17 other municipalities across Bulgaria reported that temperatures went below -23C. In some towns in the north of the country, Pleven, Rousse and Elhovo, temperatures dropped to their lowest since 1933, Dnevnik daily reported on January 26 2010.
The seaside town of Kaliakra reported -18.8C and negative temperatures prevailed along the entire coast, while Sofia fell to -15C.
The lowest temperature in Bulgaria since data became available (although certainly not the lowest ever) was back in 1947 when the thermometer showed -38.3C in the village of Trun.
The forecast for January 26 is one of serene skies and predominant sunshine across the entire country, although fog and reduced visibility will form along most of the Danube Valley. Temperatures in the north of Bulgaria will remain in the -12C to -15C range during the day while in the south from -5C to about -10C, the Bulgarian Meteorological Service reported on its website.
Conditions for mountaineering and skiing should be good because the forecast predicts serene skies and mild to moderate easterly winds.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Bulgarians Injured In Afganisitan

With one of my Bulgarian friends over there serving it was a nervous look at the news to see whether he was one of the injured. Part of the job he always says to me when I ask if he is frightened of getting caught up in the action. He's only there for the money for an apartment to live in with his fiancée, let's hope he makes it and we get to attend his wedding and new home when he gets back.

Four Bulgarian soldiers were wounded in a rocket attack the militants carried out Sunday close to the foreign military base in southern Afghanistan, while the Bulgarian Defense Minister was visiting some of his country's troops stationed there.
Missiles launched with a timer mechanism landed at a NATO base in Kandahar, about 300 meters from where Defense Minister Nikolay Mladenov and his delegation have been accommodated.
Neither the minister nor the delegation members were hurt in the attack, reports said.
The minister, who visited the injured soldiers, did not say whether he would carry out the visits that were so far part of his program. It was his last foreign trip as Bulgaria's Defense Minister, before being officially appointed as new Foreign Minister Wednesday.
Five-hundred Bulgarian troops are serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), of which 270 Bulgarian troops are based in the volatile Kandahar province.


Monday, 25 January 2010

Snow Help Greeks WIth Bulgarian Blockade

So snow is on the side of the Greeks as it aids their blockage of the border. Having experienced the extremes of weather recently I must say this report is no exaggeration with the blizzards that were seen on Friday night. Freezing temperatures are forecast now with more snow at the end of the week. Must be very cold for the Greeks who are protesting in their tractors.

Travel in several parts of Bulgaria was an unpredictable if not impossible business on the weekend of January 23 and 24 2010 with on-again, off-again blockades at the border with Greece and with heavy snowfalls disrupting motoring in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
On the morning of January 24, Bulgaria’s border police said that all checkpoints on the Bulgarian-Greek border were open and traffic was flowing without queues. However, it blockades by protesting Greek farmers, who had not quit the scene, resumed later on January 24.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Carlsberg To Have a Bigger Presence In Bulgaria

“Probably the worse lager in the world!“ This is the phrase etched in my brain from the name Carlsberg. This investment into a Bulgarian baking company to many seems like a good idea, perhaps it is rather than seeing another Bulgarian company collapse. However, even if it is just bread products not related to their ‘plastic’ brew, this may be a Trojan horse leading a major advertising campaign for their brewing company on the back of it.

Carlsberg Bulgaria, the local unit of the Danish brewery group, will acquire Blagoevgrad-based municipally-owned bread and bakery products maker Hlyab i Hlebni Izdelia, Blagoevgrad town hall said.
The news was confirmed by Carlsberg Bulgaria executive director Alexander Grancharov, who said that a part of the new facility will accommodate new production lines and warehouses, but the plans have not been finalised yet.
In a letter to mayor Kostadin Paskalev, the brewer outlined plans to close four of its production lines on the Balkans and channel investments into their Blagoevgrad facility. Grancharov declined to give further details.
Carlsberg was the only bidder for the municipal company, which was put for sale for a third time. Carlsberg paid 2.31 million leva for Hlyab i Hlebni Izdelia, which has three factories in Blagoevgrad and one in Logodash, near the border with Macedonia. It employs 55 people, according to the town hall.

Source: Dnevnik

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bulgaria Look To Retaliate Against Greek Farmers' Blockade

You can see exactly why the Bulgarians want to retaliate as it is costing business time, money and livelihoods in these recession hit times. No compensation last time round and it remains doubtful whether they will get it this time even with political movements for it. The Greeks have very good reasons for their protest but upsetting Bulgarians is not the best way to solve the problem, in fact now is likely to cause them more problems with this proposed retaliation.

Bulgarian lorries are threatening to have the Greek border shut in the days around the Easter holidays if Greek farmers do not lift the blockade "immediately", Dnevnik daily reported on January 21 2010.
Bulgarian transport companies were incurring losses estimated at more than 150 000 euro a day while the Bulgarian economy was being hit with more than three million euro a day in losses, according to reports in Bulgarian media.
"If the Greeks don't lift the blockade by January 22, we will inform Prime Minister Boiko Borissov that we will have the border shut at Easter," Angel Popov, head of the National Carriers Union (NCU) in Bulgaria was quoted as saying by Dnevnik.
NCU deputy chairperson Krassimir Lalov said that when Greek farmers staged similar protests in 2009, which included similar border blockades, losses incurred by Bulgarian companies surpassed 10 million euro, receiving no compensation.
"Our patience is wearing thin. If this carries on, we will stage a blockade of our own," Lalov said.
Greek farmers have blocked the border checkpoints for a fourth straight day in January 21, staunchly refusing to give in to Greek government pressure and Bulgarian demands for them to clear out.

According to Ta Nea, Greek prosecutors have threatened action against the farmers, but that has not weathered farmers' enthusiasm and the traffic between Bulgaria and Greece is still severely obstructed.
Beyond the border, major roads in Greece remain blocked, while overnight the Koulata–Promahon border crossing was opened for 30 minutes, allowing only lorries with time-sensitive foodstuffs to pass through.
Central Greece, Thessalia, and the roads leading to the northern Greek port town of Kavala are also shut for traffic.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Drink Driving Not A Penal Offence Soon In Bulgaria?

I really don’t know what to make of this. It seems to turn the whole world up side down in terms of the seriousness of drink driving. What I do agree with is that fines should be means based. The richer you are the more fines you pay – Without a financial ceiling would be best. The reason is simple, the rich shouldn’t’ be allowed to think they can afford to drink and drive!

Bulgaria is considering removing drink-driving from its list of criminal offences in the Penal Code, so that motorists with excessive blood-alcohol levels would only face fines.
Prosecutor-General Boris Velchev said on January 20 2010 that removing driving under the influence of liquor from the Penal Code, along with other offences like unauthorised tree-felling and selling goods lacking excise labels, would reduce the bureaucratic burden on the system.
In each case, the relevant authorities would issue fines, Velchev said.
In 2009, drink-driving convictions added up to close to 30 per cent of all court cases in Bulgaria. The Justice Ministry is currently debating various proposals to streamline Bulgaria’s justice system, which has been criticised repeatedly abroad and in the country for being hamstrung by delays, inefficiency and red tape.
The idea of decriminalising drink-driving got a hostile reaction from Bulgaria’s Association of Insurers and People Injured in Traffic Accidents.
The association’s chairperson, Vladimir Dimitrov, said in mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa on January 21 that Bulgarians lacked the required self-control and conscientiousness to stop themselves taking the wheel when drunk.
Military Medical Academy head Stoyan Tonev said that drink-drivers should be fined only if they had committed no other offence. Fines for driving while drunk should be handed down according to a scale based on the income of the offender, Tonev said.
Repeat offenders should be made to do community work in hospitals or cemeteries, Tonev said.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Winter Takes Hold At Last In Bulgaria

I don't need to read the press to see that winter has arrived here in Bulgaria at last. For the last few months it has been exceptionally mild with temperature soaring breaking all sorts of meteorological records. Pay back it seems is in the making as the next few weeks many place will struggle to get above freezing with temperatures dipping to -22C over the weekend. Looks like the water plate for well will be well stocked up for the growing season this year - good news on that front anyway.

Bulgaria experienced extreme snowfall in the northeast on January 19 and is bracing itself for another day of chaos on January 20 2010.
Varna was one of the places most affected by the weather – for the second day running, all flights from Varna to and from Sofia were cancelled because of strong winds and poor visibility. The municipality said, however, that a fleet of snow-clearing machines were active all night and most major arteries in the city are now secured.
Bulgaria experienced particularly heavy snowfall in the northeast of the country with more expected on January 20. A state of emergency was declared in seven Varna municipalities – Aksakovo, Avren, Byala, Vetrino, Vulchi Dol, Dolni Chiflik and Souvorovo, Dnevnik daily reported on January 20 2010.
In some places in Dobrudja in northeastern Bulgaria snow accumulation exceeded one metre. The Bulgarian civil protection service reported, however, that no people were stranded in vehicles. On January 19 a Turkish bus travelling to Romania hit a wall of snow but rescue workers managed to extract it. All passengers were reported safe.
The Hemus Motorway along the Varna-Slunchevo road is shut for traffic, as well as the secondary roads Souvorovo-Vetrino, and Souvorovo-Vulchi Dol.

Meanwhile, as the day unfolds, the weather system will intensify over western Bulgaria as the snow gradually recedes in the east. Up to 10cm of new snow cover is expected on average in the west of the country on January 20 2010, the Bulgarian Meteorological Institute said on its website.


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bulgaria's Incompetant Zheleva Out!

Zheleva Out! - And not before time. It wasn’t only the fact that she was lying through her teeth about business involvement that compromised her position, but the fact that she was incompetent in her role. The hands of surrender and admission finally went up not only resigning as a candidate for the European Commission buy her post as Bulgarian Foreign Minister. One wonders where her next job will come, but it will come. Politicians always have jobs for the ‘boys’ even for criminals. Why does my opinion of politicians sink even lower at this point?

Bulgaria's controversial European Commissioner-designate Roumyana Zheleva has withdrawn as a candidate and has offered to resign as her country's Foreign Minister.

The Foreign Ministry in Sofia confirmed on January 19 2010 that Zheleva had written to Prime Minister Boiko Borissov asking to be released from all her posts. She asked Borissov to nominate a replacement candidate Commissioner.

Borissov accepted her withdrawal from the European Commission candidacy but declined to accept her resignation as Foreign Minister.

At a news conference, European People's Party leader Joseph Daul expressed regret at Zheleva's decision and hit out at political opponents for their campaign against her.

In her letter to Borissov, Zheleva expressed bitterness at the campaign against her and the false allegations that she had lied, as well as the portrayal of her as incompetent.

She thanked all those in Bulgaria, in the EPP and Daul for standing by her with unwavering support and in the "struggle for justice in this case".


Tuesday, 19 January 2010

More Unemployment Forecast This Year In Bulgaria

Yet another prediction that the recession is far from over in Bulgaria. 1 in 5 out of work this year is the forecast. Yet again being at ground level here I see this around me with businesses grinding to a halt and those who are still trading having to sit is out on less than a shoestring. The many who now find themselves without work and nothing to look forward to in the spring may provoke some kind of unrest here. Bulgaria cannot solve this alone it is a world problem and most understand that, but will not deter unrest and disillusion with the current government.

One in five Bulgarians is likely to be out of work in 2010, Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) chief executive Bozhidar Danev said on January 18 2010.
Danev's estimate was in sharp contrast to what Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov said on January 4, when he forecast that Bulgaria would show the first signs of recovery from the global economic downturn as early as the beginning of spring 2010.
In an interview with Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Dyankov said that Bulgaria had already reached "the bottom of the crisis in November-December 2009, but by March 2010 the climate should improve".
BIA, an employers' unions that has a track record of taking a more grim view of the current economic downturn than the cabinet, said that the worst situation would be in northwestern and northeastern parts of the country, where unemployment could reach as high as 60 per cent.
Official statistics put unemployment at 9.3 per cent at end-December 2009 and the government forecast is for 13.8 per cent unemployment at the end of 2010. However, those figures only take into account the people who have filed for unemployment benefits, but a large number never file for benefits, Danev said.
Higher unemployment would hamper Bulgaria's economic recovery because of the impact on the banking sector, where non-performing loans would continue to increase; economic growth, which would suffer because of the decrease in household consumption; and government finances, which would be hit by falling revenue from taxes and mandatory social security contributions.
According to Danev, the way for the Cabinet to jumpstart the recover would be through infrastructure projects, including road infrastructure, sanitation of public buildings, river dams, water treatment stations, bridges, tunnels and motorways.
Danev said that one of the Bulgarian industries affected most by the downturn in 2010 would be arms manufacturing and the defence sector.


Monday, 18 January 2010

Ivan Kostov - The Worst Kind Of Politician

I have talked about Ivan Kostov before and the reasons why I have the least respect for him in the field of disrespectful political figures. He will sell his soul and change his political colours just for the chance of power and this statement is doing just the same. Having vigorously opposed Boyko Borisov and the GERB party in the recent elections he is now supporting them after their win. His tactic here is to assume that he has the right to dictate to the Bulgarian PM how he should act in Jeleva scandal. Another MP who should shut his gob as this has noting to do with anything other than his own ego. This is the worst kind of politician.

Ivan Kostov - The Worst Kind Of Politician
The troubled EC Commissioner bid of Bulgaria’s Rumiana Jeleva is going to teach GERB and PM Boyko Borisov about how the Socialists act, according to rightist leader Ivan Kostov.

He contrasted the alleged disruption by the Bulgarian Socialist Party of Jeleva’s bid to the support that Boyko Borisov granted to Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian Directorate-General of UNESCO.

Kostov, who is a Co-Chair of the Blue Coalition supporting GERB, told Nova TV Sunday night that the final decision on the fate of Rumiana Jeleva was in the hands of the Socialists, the Liberals, and the Greens, whereas the European People’s Party should seek a compromise.

The Blue Coalition leader declared that Borisov should go ahead with his “Plan B” by putting forth another EU Commissioner-Designate instead of Jeleva in order to save Bulgaria’s image, and to spare EC President Jose Manuel Barroso from the currently unfavorable situation.


Sunday, 17 January 2010

Andrew Duff's Statement Is Just Thinking Of Himself

Duff should shut his gob up. The decision will be made on the 26th January and it doesn’t need a ‘know all’ poking his nose in when we all know the reason he is doing it is for his own public stature. Perhaps someone should dig up some evidence of his wheeling and dealing business interests that conflict with his position. After all, every politician does it and get away with it because they haven’t been caught or have loop holes in the law for it! Just shut your arrogance Duff.

Andrew Duff's Statement Is Just Thinking Of Himself
UK Liberal MEP, Andrew Duff, has stated that it is not possible for a majority of the European Parliament to approve the new EU Commission if Bulgaria’s EU Commissioner-Designate Rumiana Jeleva is part of it.

Duff, who is the rapporteur on the Commissioners' hearings, said Saturday that EC President Jose Manuel Barroso is now in a very awkward position. The reason for this being that the European Commission endorsed Jeleva’s nomination but now the European Parliament is against her appointment. He added that the answer to the problem can now only come from Sofia.

“I think Mrs. Jeleva should consider whether it is still appropriate to seek the post of Commissioner and to withdraw her own candidacy - this will be the most elegant way out of this dead end," concluded Duff, cited by Bulgarian National Radio.

Andrew Duff MEP has been the Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the East of England since 1999.


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Russians WIth Wise Bulgarian Investments

With Russians being the top of the list of foreigners in Bulgaria it is somewhat not surprising that the lead the way in property investment here. It is a wise move with process at rock bottom in Bulgaria at the moment, even in the top resorts regions. They will be the ones who will reap benefits when the recession comes to an end and the property market picks up. Russians aren’t blind to good investment opportunities and seemingly put their money where their mouth is unlike many other foreigner investors who just talk about it.

Russians WIth Wise Bulgarian Investments
The demand for European property by Russians is steadily increasing despite the economic crisis, Russian media have reported.
According to official data, Russian people are currently the most active foreign buyers of property in Europe, especially in its eastern regions. The majority usually look for property near the famous ski resorts of Bulgaria, Montenegro, Turkey and other countries with a well-developed tourism sector.
Russians now account for almost half the buyers of real estate in Europe, despite the fact that compared with 2009, the number of transactions completed by them has decreased by 5%.
In contrast, the demand for foreign property among the citizens of the European Union and the US has significantly dropped since the beginning of the recession.
According to the Kvadroom Property Group, currently prices on real estate in Russia are so high that more and more Russians prefer to invest their money in buying property abroad.
The average cost of one square meter of housing in Moscow is now more than USD 5 000.
Whereas in the past many preferred to buy homes and apartments in Eastern Europe, Russian citizens are now also increasingly interested in Western European real estate.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Greeks Hold Up The Highway Border In Subsidy Protests

the Greek farmers have good reason to protest with subsidies that make their produce uncompetitive. The whole genre of subsidies comes into question when export and imports are affected and peoples' livelihoods at stake. The is no simple answer as it is a see-saw game of striking a balance. I can only see this escalating and the protests becoming more violent as initially no action will be taken as is always the case with peaceful protests. This is the way of the world with the protest scene.

Greeks Hold Up The Highway Border In Subsidy Protests
Greek farmers are set to block all three border crossing points with Bulgaria in a protest meant to last five days, Bulgarian and Greek media have reported. Initially, the strike action was supposed to go into effect on January 15 2010.

However, Greek trade unions later said that the final decision on the issue would be taken on January 18.

Concerning the protest, Bulgaria's Transport Ministry asked the Foreign Ministry to contact Greek authorities and "ensure that a free corridor would be left out for all Bulgarian vehicles," Dnevnik daily reported on January 14.

As part of the request, the Bulgarian side acknowledged the right of the Greek farmers to protest and voice their discontent but only if that "does not violate the basic rights and interests of other European Union member states".

If its request was not granted, Bulgaria was ready to take the issue with the European Commission, Dnevnik reported.

Bulgarian business is likely to be affected, especially lorries carrying goods that need refrigeration and other special treatment.

Earlier on January 14, Bulgarian media reported that Bulgarian border police reportedly received a tip-off from police chiefs in Northern Greece that farmers could blockade the border checkpoints as early as January 15 as part of a concerted effort to block vital motorways in the country.

Greek farmers, protesting over subsidies, fear that the strike would be declared illegal and the farmers would be arrested if they proceed with their plans, reports said.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bulgarians The Most Upbeat Europeans in The Recession

This report basically says that Bulgaria is the most optimistic and up beat European country in this doom and gloom of worldwide recession. I have to admit that many people I socialise with hear are not depressed even though many of them are out of work. It has always been hard to earn a living here and on a pension you will find poverty at a depth never imagined. Bulgarians can cope with recession better than any other European country because they are well versed with dealing with hard times. Living on a self-sufficient level comes natural to Bulgarians and work and money here is a bonus to many.

Bulgarians The Most Upbeat Europeans in The Recession
Hit harder in GDP terms by the financial crisis than any region on earth, citizens from across Central and Eastern Europe can, and often do, regale you with tales of economic woe.
But a new index published Wednesday says financial misery will be spread as unevenly across the ex-communist states this year as it was in 2009 — while optimism will be found in some surprising places.
According to Moody’ s ‘Misery Index,’ which adds projections of fiscal deficits to unemployment numbers as a measure of economic gloom, the least miserable of the 23 states ranked will be (drum roll)… Bulgaria.
Slammed by the financial crisis and enduring spending cuts from a center-right government determined to balance 2010’s budget, this may come as a surprise for many in the EU’s poorest member state. But Moody’s says expectations of a negligible 2010 budget deficit combined with predictions of a jobless rate below 10% will see the EU newcomer even less downbeat than super-rich Switzerland next year, where real economy indicators have fared far better than the European average.
Less curious is the plight of Baltic economies Latvia and Lithuania. Suffering from emergency budget cuts and double-digit GDP contractions their citizens are tipped to be almost three times as miserable the Bulgarians - and were only pipped to the inglorious title ‘most miserable’ by fallen-star Spain, where mushrooming dole queues are making it all but impossible to crack a smile.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Zheleva Guilty As Charged But Refuses To Own Up

It doesn’t matter where they come from politician are sleeze bags! This particular witch hunt has begun on Zheleva because of allegations of non disclosed business interests. This may be normal in Bulgarian political circles but in a European so called ‘squeaky clean’ politics it isn’t. I personally think she is guilty as charged, but like all politicians she refused to admit the truth! Huh, politics, who needs it?

Drama erupted at a European Parliament committee confirmation hearing of would-be European Commissioner Roumyana Zheleva of Bulgaria, who faced repeated questions about alleged failures to disclose business interests.

Following up allegations made publicly earlier in the day on January 12 2010 about Zheleva, who was a member of the European Parliament from 2007 to 2009, having failed to disclose her ownership and management of a consultancy, MEPs from parties critical of her candidacy questioned her time and again on the issue.

Even before the formal question session started, some parties used their opening statements to raise the issue.

Zheleva, in her opening remarks, ignored the issue, but it was raised about six times in individual questions in the first 90 minutes of proceedings.

Zheleva said that she had documentation proving that all such allegations were false. She said "I am not the owner" of the consultancy company.

An attempt to distribute documentation at the committee hearing failed when a point of order was raised that it was solely in Bulgarian and German and had not been translated into the other EU official languages.

Zheleva told the committee hearing that the allegations, including those raised in some media reports, had arisen from a letter written by Antonia Purvanova, who heads the European Parliamentary delegation of the National Movement for Stability and Progress, a former governing party of Bulgaria that was ousted from power and Bulgaria's Parliament in the 2009 elections won by the party of which Zheleva is a member.

As the hearings wore on, Zheleva appeared flustered and 20 minutes into the question session, switched to her native Bulgarian from the English that she had been speaking initially. When, after some time, questioning returned to topics related to her proposed portfolio - international co-operation, humanitarian aid and emergency response - she returned to answering questions in English.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Bulgaria Having Euro Currency Doesn't Solve Anything

Here we go again, Bulgaria selling its soul to Europe with a political will to convert to the Euro. This guarantees nothing and is not a magic wand for economic recovery and the debt crisis. The Lev is currently tied with the Euro and having a Euro currency will not make any difference to foreign exchange if this remains, so why change? Bulgaria will become a Euro currency as that's the trend in Europe, how, long down the line before it is realised that this is a mistake is just a matter of time.

Bulgaria Having Euro Currency Doesn't Solve Anything
Bulgaria, the newest and poorest member of the European Union, is emerging as a fiscal model for a number of EU countries struggling to fend off debt crises.

Despite Bulgaria's budgetary rigor, other EU members' swelling debt burdens may end up foiling Sofia's aspirations to join the euro in three years.

Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and posted the smallest budget deficit among the 27 member states last year, according to the finance ministry. It is expected to be the only EU nation to balance its budget in 2010.

The country pegs its currency, the lev, to the euro, and has a currency board that forces the government to hew to tight fiscal policy. Officials in Sofia have frozen government wages and pensions, mothballed costly state investment projects, raised taxes on tobacco and slashed government spending by 15%. The result is a full-year deficit of less than 500 million lev ($370 million), or 0.8% of gross domestic product.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who has drawn international accolades for cutting spending while maintaining high levels of public support, says he fears Bulgaria's fiscal performance won't guarantee entry to the 16-nation euro zone.
"I am afraid that the debt crisis in newer euro-zone countries will negatively affect us," he said. "We hope that the authorities respect the admission criteria as we've worked hard to get here."

In a thinly veiled reference to Greece, which has struggled to persuade investors that it can cut its budget deficit from more than 13% of GDP toward the EU's 3% ceiling, Mr. Borisov said he is making progress in persuading European leaders that his government would be fiscally disciplined "now and in the future."
Bulgaria is eager to adopt the euro in order to boost confidence and foreign investment.

Still, the country must meet a number of criteria covering currency stability, public-sector debt, interest rates and inflation. The application also needs approval from euro-zone heads of government and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.

Bulgaria's economic progress could see it leapfrog longtime euro aspirants, such as Romania and Hungary, where sharp downturns have required bailouts from the International Monetary Fund. Sofia isn't currently receiving IMF assistance, and doesn't plan to seek help from the fund this year, Mr. Borisov said.


Monday, 11 January 2010

UNESCO Director General States The Obvious

I found this report to be such an obvious response from the UNESCO Director General. I do wonder what other comment she could have made. I suppose it is part of the job to state the obvious and right thing to say. I do also wonder whether the freedom of speech is nigh with her or whether someone had written the script for her.

UNESCO Director General States The Obvious
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on Friday (January 8th) urged Bulgarian authorities to find the killers of a controversial radio host murdered on Tuesday. Bobi Tsankov, who had recently written books about the mafia and was the subject of several embezzlement lawsuits, was gunned down around noon Tuesday in broad daylight in busy downtown Sofia. "It seems clear that he was targeted because he was revealing information about criminal activities. Such a brazen attack jeopardises freedom of expression and freedom of the press, rights that are basic and essential to ensure a democratic society," Bokova said.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

UFO Seen By Hundreds In Sofia

Having personally witnessed UFOs here in Bulgaria on more than one occasion I am quite surprised that more reports have not been admitted and reported here. Sceptics normally outweigh the witnesses even with what seems concrete evidence. How long will it be before aliens actually land and contact us foolish humans who they see as pushing a self destruct button with war, pollution, all greed related!

UFO Seen By Hundreds In Sofia
Bulgarian National Television is reporting the sighting of a UFO by hundreds of New Year revellers in Sofia in the first few minutes of 2010, The sighting took place in the capital city Sofia.

The diamond shaped object moved erratically in the sky before disappearing. A number of witnesses noted that they felt the UFO was not of this world. One witness managed to film the UFO.

Bulgaria recently made headlines when it's national space agency made the shock announcement that well-meaning aliens are contacting earth and communicating with humans through a series of crop circles. This finding was the result of a far-reaching study of thousands of crop circles around the world by the space agency. Sightings of UFOs are common in Bulgaria.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Scapegoat Arrested For Bulgarian Mafia Killing?

Looks like someone has been taken in as the scapegoat for killing Boris Tsanskov, do you really think he is the Mafia leader? I dont' think so. I think this is a front and a conspiracy to demonstrate to the world that things are being done to combat the Mafia in Bulgaria. The proof of the pudding will be to see whether the charges transform into a prison sentence or whether a spanner in the works will curtail charges. I think the latter is the more likely and the leader fot he Mafia is still unknown and untouchable.

Scapegoat Arrested For Bulgarian Mafia Killing?
Bulgarian prosecutors have charged a suspected criminal leader in connection with the murder on Tuesday of a crime journalist and radio show host.
Krasimir Marinov, known as "The Big Margin", arrested hours after the killing, has now been charged with incitement to murder.
Boris "Bobbie" Tsankov, who reported on the mafia in Bulgaria, was killed on a crowded street in the capital Sofia.
Two men who were with him were also shot and critically wounded.
Since his book The Secrets of the Mobsters, alleging links between mafia figures and businessmen was published last November, Mr Tsankov said he had received numerous death threats.
Just hours after the murder, Krasimir Marinov was arrested, but police are still searching for his younger brother Nikolai Marinov "The Small Margin" in connection with an alleged plot to kill Mr Tsankov.
The brothers, together with three other men, have been on trial since 2006 for plotting assassinations and participating in organised crime.


Friday, 8 January 2010

St Jordan Day In Bulgaria

Last year I witnessed the throwing of the cross into the iced up waters of the River Tundzha to be chased into the waters by mainly young Bulgarians. A great event that attracts many crowds and the media of course. This year I am lucky enough to be working unlike over 10% of the work force in Bulgaria so I missed it. It is so heart warming to know that these traditions remain firm in Bulgaria and long may it remain so.

St Jordan Day In Bulgaria
On January 6, in Eastern Orthodox churches the emphasis is on the shining forth and revelation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Second Person of the Trinity at the time of his baptism. It is also celebrated because, according to tradition, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist marked one of only two occasions when all three Persons of the Trinity manifested themselves simultaneously to humanity.

On St. Jordan's Day (Epiphany), the Orthodox Churches perform the Great Blessing of Waters. The blessing is normally done on the day of the feast, outdoors at a body of water. Following the Divine Liturgy, the clergy and people go in a procession with the cross to the nearest body of water. At the end of the ceremony the priest will bless the waters by casting a cross into them. If swimming is feasible on the spot, any number of volunteers may brave the cold winter and try to recover the cross. The person who gets the cross first swims back and returns it to the priest, who then delivers a special blessing to the swimmer and their household.

In Sofia, the traditional release of the cross will be held at the lake in the Sofia "Druzhba" district.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Cheek Of Michael Shields And Still Telling Lies

I just can’t believe the cheek of this scouse git Michael Shields. Tell you what, take a trip to Bulgaria and there will be an apology waiting in a dark alley for you mate. I can’t believe this criminal got away with it and nor can the countless witnesses that saw him do it! Tell me this, who needs to apologise? The British government for one for letting him out and now he is telling more lies to sell property!

The Cheek Of Michael Shields And Still Telling Lies
Michael Shields, granted an official pardon by UK justice secretary Jack Straw in September 2009 after his wrongful conviction for attacking Bulgarian barman Martin Georgiev in 2005, has told the Independent newspaper that he still feels let down by the authorities in the aftermath of his release from jail.

Shields was initially jailed in Bulgaria before being transferred to a British prison. Shields' plight attracted the support of local media as well as prominent celebrities and Liverpool football club.

"If someone commits a crime and they get out of prison I know it's not much help but you do get a probation officer and they keep an eye on you. But no one has ever contacted me. I've never had anything from them, no offer of counselling or an offer of a reason why it happened," he says.

Shields, who according to the newspaper, has now found a job working for a property company, said that he tries not to dwell on the injustice he suffered. "I don't think about it. If I do, I get angry and bitter, so I just make myself not think about it," he says.

In particular, Shields says he is still awaiting an apology from both the British and the Bulgarian authorities.

"The thing that wound me up most was getting no apology. I'm definitely still looking for one, and someone has got to give me one. I think I should get two – one from the British Government for doing nothing about it, and one should come from Bulgaria."

In the interview Shields says that, inevitably, he feels he has lost out on many experiences during the four-and-a-half years he spent in jail. "Four-and-a-half years is a long time, especially when you are young. Sometimes when I'm out, someone will say, 'Remember when this happened or then we did this,' and I'll have to say, 'I wasn't there – I was away'. Then I'll be left with bad feelings, though I like to think I'm wiser for it," he says. "There were loads of things I missed – every little thing – but the fact that now I can go and see mates, or Saturday night I can just go for a drink... People take things for granted so much."

According to the interview, Shields is now campaigning for other people wrongfully imprisoned abroad, working with the group Fair Trials Abroad.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mafia Kill Author For Bulgarian Mafia Underworld Revealed Publication

I’d better shut up then! I don't understand how this will solve anything as far as th Maifia are concerned The book is now published and of course the Mafia has just given the best publicity anyone could give by doing what they have done. I for one hadn't heard of the book before this story came out proving my point. Mafia inteligence? I don't think so!

I’d better shut up then! A radio presenter who wrote a book on Bulgarian gangsters was shot dead in Sofia on Tuesday, the interior minister said, in the first such killing since the new government took office in July. The centre-right cabinet is under pressure at home and from the European Union to deliver on its pledge to tame powerful organised crime gangs and punish corrupt officials. Bobi Tsankov was killed in central Sofia in broad daylight, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Focus news agency. Two other men at the site of the shooting were wounded and rushed to hospital, police said. There have been more than 150 gangland assassinations since 2001. But despite its campaigns against crime and graft, Bulgaria has failed to show results which may lead to sanctions from Brussels, which cut millions of euros in aid in 2008. Bulgaria has sent to jail only one crime boss since communism collapsed in 1989 and has so far failed to convict a single senior official of graft. But the new government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has taken a harder line since coming to power. Last month police struck a rare blow against organised crime by arresting more than 25 suspected kidnappers whose abductions of the rich and famous have blackened the new EU member's image. Tsankov, 30, had publicly revealed his connections with alleged crime bosses and had published a book on the Bulgarian underworld. In 2006, he was injured by a bomb outside his home. Last November, he told police he had received death threats shortly before his book's publication, local media reported. Two years ago, Georgi Stoev, the author of a series of books on the emergence of Bulgaria's underworld in the 1990s, was gunned down in front of a hotel in central Sofia. Source:

A radio presenter who wrote a book on Bulgarian gangsters was shot dead in Sofia on Tuesday, the interior minister said, in the first such killing since the new government took office in July.
The centre-right cabinet is under pressure at home and from the European Union to deliver on its pledge to tame powerful organised crime gangs and punish corrupt officials.
Bobi Tsankov was killed in central Sofia in broad daylight, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Focus news agency. Two other men at the site of the shooting were wounded and rushed to hospital, police said.
There have been more than 150 gangland assassinations since 2001. But despite its campaigns against crime and graft, Bulgaria has failed to show results which may lead to sanctions from Brussels, which cut millions of euros in aid in 2008.
Bulgaria has sent to jail only one crime boss since communism collapsed in 1989 and has so far failed to convict a single senior official of graft.
But the new government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has taken a harder line since coming to power.
Last month police struck a rare blow against organised crime by arresting more than 25 suspected kidnappers whose abductions of the rich and famous have blackened the new EU member's image.
Tsankov, 30, had publicly revealed his connections with alleged crime bosses and had published a book on the Bulgarian underworld. In 2006, he was injured by a bomb outside his home.
Last November, he told police he had received death threats shortly before his book's publication, local media reported.
Two years ago, Georgi Stoev, the author of a series of books on the emergence of Bulgaria's underworld in the 1990s, was gunned down in front of a hotel in central Sofia.
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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Underage Sex But First Birth Of 2010 Takes Headline

Isn’t this quite typical that underage births are more common that one first supposes. Only recently there was the story of the youngest mother, which made headlines. The big question is are the fathers being prosecuted for underage sex? I doubt it as I commented before, mainly because this is becoming ‘normal’ especially in Gypsy communities. (Again no mention whether this mother and father were Gypsy!)

A 14-year-old mother from Bulgaria’s Varna has given birth to the country’s first newborn child in 2010.

The underage mother Nikoleta Velikova gave birth at exactly 1 minute after midnight on January 1, 2010. This has been announced Saturday by Dr. Antonia Grigorova, Editor-in-Chief of the Nine Months Magazine, which is organizing annual Baby of the Year campaigns.

The time has been confirmed by the medical staff of the Varna hospital. The baby girl weighs 2,3 kg and is 46 cm tall.

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Monday, 4 January 2010

Pepper Popper Voted Best Bulgarian Invention of The 20th Century

I have to say that this just typifies Bulgaria where the food and practical inventions are the most important things there. This is a far cry form the material ideals when a pepper popper or the chushkopek gets the top vote for the most revolutionary Bulgarian household device for the 20th Century. I’m not surprised that the car was well down on the voting as it has become plague and an escalation in cost to many here. Having used this pepper popper I can safely say that it really does the business, effectively and quickly and when you consider the amount of peppers that are stored by families for winter here, only then will you realised how useful this appliance is. Many Bulgarians of course still use the old method by grilling the peppers on a live fire from wood especially in the villages. The popper is therefore is even more ideal for apartment dwellers.

Pepper Popper Voted Best Bulgarian Invention of The 20th Century
An appliance for roasting peppers has been voted the most revolutionary household device of the 20th century in Bulgaria.

The "chushkopek" was named "Bulgaria's Household Revolution of the 20th Century" in an on-line and text messaging campaign organized by Bulgarian National Television.

The wall of the cylindrical chushkopek is lined with a heater and can hold one to seven peppers, depending on the size of the appliance.

The Bulgarian-patented appliance garnered 25 percent of the vote. Other 20th century advances that received votes included electricity (16 percent), television and radio (13 percent)and cellphones (10 percent).

Concrete-panel apartment construction, cars and seaside vacations trailed with less than 7 percent each.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Bulgaria Banned From The International Weighlifting Federation (IWF)

We all know that the world is full of doping in many sporting competitions and weightlifting is no exception. The Bulgarians have been caught red-handed and banned from the International Weighlifting Federation (IWF); it is as simple as that. But in true Bulgarian fashion the answer to the problem was simply to set up another Weightlifting Federation to whitewash the issue. I think there should be two federations, one where you can use as many drugs as you wish and another where it has to be clean. I know which I’d rather watch as a sport for entertainment!

BEIJING - AUGUST 07:  A general view of the we...

Bulgaria's weightlifting federation was stripped of its licence Wednesday for financial mismanagement and a major doping scandal that saw the country's best athletes banned, the sports ministry said.

The ministry said it had refused to renew the federation's licence because it had "breached the anti-doping regulations and sports ethics ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games and marred Bulgaria's sports prestige."

The federation was also accused of mismanaging funds.

Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, all eight men and three women on Bulgaria's preliminary weightlifting squad had tested positive for the anabolic steroid metandienon.

The lifters denied any wrongdoing but the Bulgarian weightlifting federation was forced, for the first time in its history, to pull the whole team from the Games.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) then banned two of the athletes, Georgy Markov and Alan Tsagaev, for life while the other nine received four-year bans.

The federation was also fined $465,000 (324,700 euros), Bulgarian press reporting it had paid that sum to keep its right to compete in international tournaments.

But failure to find well-trained athletes to replace the banned ones has prevented Bulgaria from appearing in major weightlifting competitions ever since.

Bulgaria had a long reputation as one of the world powers in weightlifting, but was also plagued by doping scandals.

In order to save the sport, 23 weightlifting clubs from around the country on Tuesday formed an alternative Bulgarian national weightlifting federation, adding they would apply for a licence from the sports ministry and the IWF.


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Saturday, 2 January 2010

Charity Aid To Bulgaria's Poor From The UK

Charity Aid To Bulgaria's Poor From The UK

There are some who say this is a waste of time and there are more deserving people in this world that need the aid. Others say that the cost of shipping is crazy as the food, blankets and toys can be bought in Bulgaria. I must say I agree with the second point, £5,000 is money down the drain and far better spent on aid rather than transport costs. Bulgarians in the main look after themselves even with the dire poverty that many live in. I do wonder where this consignment will end up and whether is will got to those who it is intended for.

Charity workers are urging for one last festive fundraising push to help send essentials to poor people in Bulgaria.
Two 40 foot containers with 45 tonnes of food aid, blankets, bedding and toys have been sent to Bulgaria to help those with next to nothing.
The goods, estimated to be worth £100,000, have been collected by local charity Bulgarian Aid.
Although the content is already on its way to Bulgaria, volunteers had to borrow the money to send it, and need donations to help cover the costs.
Christine Metcalfe, from Bulgarian Aid, said: "We would like to thank everyone who has so far supported us.
The cost of sending the two containers is in excess of £5,000.
Source: Charity workers are urging for one last festive fundraising push to help send essentials to poor people in Bulgaria.
Two 40 foot containers with 45 tonnes of food aid, blankets, bedding and toys have been sent to Bulgaria to help those with next to nothing.
The goods, estimated to be worth £100,000, have been collected by local charity Bulgarian Aid.
Although the content is already on its way to Bulgaria, volunteers had to borrow the money to send it, and need donations to help cover the costs.
Christine Metcalfe, from Bulgarian Aid, said: "We would like to thank everyone who has so far supported us.
The cost of sending the two containers is in excess of £5,000.
Image by Port of Tacoma via Flickr
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Friday, 1 January 2010

Madonna Next In Line For Tax Bills In Bulgaria

Madonna Next In Line For Tax Bills In Bulgaria
This is the latest trend in Bulgaria, chasing the rich and public figures for tax that is due. One wonders why this wasn’t’ pick up in previous years rather than having a sudden purge. I also wonder whether the goalpost have been changed in tax assessment to get more funds from VIP earners. The Bulgarian Pop Folk Divas (Chalga) and Professional Footballers have already been raked through. Who is next? Not the mafias that’s for sure!

The National Revenue Agency (NRA) is chasing Bulgarian promoters who have staged some of the biggest shows in Bulgaria including those of Madonna and Metallica.

According to the law, performers must pay 10 per cent tax on concerts staged in Bulgaria. NRA checks established, however, that none of the 13 Bulgarian promoters had paid this tax to the state.

This included the show Madonna staged in Sofia this summer and Metallica's concert a year ago.

The same tax will be owed by Elton John when he performs in Sofia in the summer of 2010.

Checks on the activities of promoters' companies are part of an overall investigation launched by the NRA into the income of Bulgarian singers and popular performers.

Probes have revealed that some popular artists have not filed income tax declarations for several years.

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