Road rage, Bulgaria's increasing need for workers and the continuing controversies over the Sofi a heating companies continued to grab column inches in April, while the war on torrent trackers and the departure of the national football team's infamous coach Hristo Stoytchkov provided the month's new press fodder.
With the arrival of the warm weather, the Easter holidays and the promise of summer, road rage in Bulgaria re-emerged as a hot topic. The 24 Chasa daily started a national campaign against drink driving, while MPs deliberated new amendments to traffic regulations to lower the legal alcohol limit.
“Three dead on the highways in a day,” reported Monitor.
“Traffic police complain about Romanian drivers,” said Standart. According to Standart, traffic police in Varna and the region had experienced serious problems with Romanian drivers who were in Bulgaria for the holidays: driving recklessly and parking wherever they pleased, one causing a traffic accident in which a 10-year-old child was injured.
Among the daily reports of fatal traffic accidents caused by drink driving, lack of experience or speeding, was an account of an Ataka MP who crashed into a fence. Sega reported that Borislav Noev had driven with a blood-alcohol content of 1.96 mils, according to a test by the traffic police. The legal limit in Bulgaria is 0.05. Noev denied reports that he was drunk, but a blood test confirmed the findings of the police. By law, driving with more than 1 mil of alcohol is considered a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment.
“The nightmares over heating are yet to come”, wrote Trud in its comment on a breakdown which left thousands of households in 18 neighbourhoods in Sofia without electricity at the beginning of April. “For hundreds, maybe even thousands of Sofia residents, Toplofikatsiya has become synonymous with enslavement. It is a racketeer and monopolist, while the consumer is a slave.”
“Sofia City Council and the state successfully lead Toplofikatsiya to bankruptcy,” wrote Capital of “The heating farce”.
The controversy concerning the heating company didn't stop there. The municipal council voted that the head of the company, Nasko Mihov, be relieved of his duties and he resigned. “I resigned because I can't work under such circumstances,” Mihov told Monitor.
According to an article in Sega, three of the heating meter-reading companies had broken the law and “adjusted” heating bills as they pleased. Economy and Energy minister Rumen Ovcharov, however, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the three companies were not likely to be punished as a serious investigation was required.
STOYTCHKOV RUNS TO CELTA
Football fans can breathe a sigh of relief: Hristo Stoytchkov quit his position as coach for the Bulgarian national team and ran away to Celta in Spain. According to articles in Sega Stoytchkov explained in a phone conversation with the President of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, that he was quitting because there were negative sentiments towards him.
“Thank you, Celta”, wrote the Capital weekly on its comments page following the news that Stoytchkov had quit. “Football fans in Bulgaria can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The news that the national team's coach Hristo Stoytchkov has quit to go and work for the Spanish team is the best thing that has happened to this sport in recent years. Fans can also thank Celta for agreeing to hire him after he had failed twice in his role. For those who know nothing about football, we must clarify that with his coaching ‘abilities' Stoytchkov almost lost the team the chance of qualifying for the European championship in 2008, just as he failed to lead the team to qualify for the World championship in 2006.”
“Unemployed frown at 700 leva salaries,” Trud reported. It stated that coastal resorts were in desperate need of qualified cooks and waiters, while computer specialists, construction workers and engineers were required across the country. The newspaper reported that qualified workers were demanding higher salaries and various perks such as cars, telephones and laptops.
“We import half a million foreigners,” wrote Standart. According to a study by the European Commission quoted by the daily, Bulgaria would need 560,000 new workers in the next 13 years. There were two ways to meet this number: by raising the retirement age, or “importing” 43,000 foreigners to work in Bulgaria. According to Standart, the Bulgarian Chamber of Industry was working on legislation to allow in citizens from Ukraine, Macedonia and Moldova, while the Ministry of Labour was planning to “import” workers from Asia.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers