To answer these questions one needs to look closely at who the visiting Russian dignitary really was and what he stands for.
Kiril I of Moscow was appointed patriarch of All the Rus and primate of the Russian Orthodox Church after his predecessor, the former KGB agent Alexey II, died in his late 70s. To the general public, Kiril is known for his support for Vladimir Putin's domestic and international policies, and also for his penchant for expensive cars and Swiss watches.
"You are young, energetic and strong-handed," Kiril told Boyko Borisov. "God be with you!"
Apart from the blessing, Kiril stressed the negative role of globalisation vis-a-vis national cultural identity, and the importance of Christian morality in the modern world.
Bulgaria's establishment listened attentively. President Rosen Plevneliev intoned that the common cultural and religious heritage of Bulgarians and Russians was the foundation upon which the relations between the two peoples developed. Playing down the obvious fact that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had been infiltrated by Communist secret policemen and had been made subservient to the avowedly atheist state ‒ a situation that remains unchanged to this day ‒ Plevneliev said that Christian values were becoming increasingly important to the lives of Bulgarian families and society as a whole, which was to be attributed "without a doubt" to the Orthodox Church.
Tsetska Tsacheva, the speaker of parliament, added that both Bulgaria's parliament and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church shared the great goal of working for the public good and for the development of a young generation of strong personalities.
The outpouring of friendliness, mutual understanding and historical love between Bulgarians and Russians was slightly marred by the fact that the Russian bodyguards protecting Kiril refused entry to the Russian Orthodox Church in central Sofia to a Bulgarian National Television reporter who had been critical of Russian church affairs in Bulgaria.
In tribute to the common cultural and historical heritage President Plevneliev referred to, the Russian patriarch went on to Plovdiv, where he laid flowers at the foot of the Alyosha, a huge Stalinist monstrosity that was erected on top of a hill to celebrate Bulgaria's occupation by the Red Army at the end of the Second World War. Similar monuments have been dismantled in every other country in the former Warsaw Pact, but in Bulgaria they stand to this day.
The ceremonies in Plovdiv were organised by Nikolay, the local bishop, who is seen as a likely successor to Bulgaria's own nonagenarian Patriarch Maxim. One thing that could ensure the close cooperation of Plovdiv's Nikolay and Moscow's Kiril in the future is that they both share a taste for fast cars and Swiss watches.
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