Due in part to the severity of the gas crisis in Bulgaria, this country's need to diversify has been more cruelly exposed than in other countries, though there are positive signs that other nations feeling the chill have also been rudely awoken by January's events.
Politicians weren't the only ones who discovered a way to benefit from football. Bulgaria's new businessmen, who had reasons for wanting to hide the sources of their first – and subsequent – millions, saw football teams as an excellent way to legalise their incomes.
The 1996–1997 economic crisis toppled the Bulgarian Socialist Party, or BSP, from power. Bulgaria introduced a currency board regime that pegged the lev to the German mark and later to the euro – a move that reined in inflation. Bulgaria joined NATO and the EU, and foreigners began arriving – either as tourists or to buy a cheap second home. Many Bulgarians also took out mortgages to buy housing. Eleven years later Bulgarians are again facing a crisis – a global one.
DANS officially admitted that it illegally collected information about journalists and MPs in what can readily be described as a witch hunt. This confession followed sustained media and public outrage over the brutal beating of journalist Ognyan Stefanov, who turned out to have been investigated over his alleged disclosure of classified information on his news website.
Contrary to Marxist theory, quantitative accumulation does not always lead to qualitative changes, and corruption and organised crime remain probably the single biggest problem in Bulgaria. In October, a research on private businesses by the Governance Monitoring Association, a public-sector policy NGO, showed that 80 percent of them have run up against corruption and that 60 percent of them consider it "a widespread practice."
In fact, the Bulgarians have been using the euro for a long time in their lives – although not to buy bread from the corner shop. Banks lend and borrow in euros; property prices are calculated in euros per square metre; landlords want their rents in euros – some accept the leva equivalent, but with a catch: two leva for an euro, ignoring the official exchange rate of 1.95583.
Russia was a signatory to the April 2008 UN Security Council resolution that reaffirmed the integrity of Georgia. It invaded Georgia a few months later, justifying its decision by claiming that its citizens were attacked by Georgia. But who undertakes unilateral action against a sovereign state if he believed in international law?
He is a very dangerous man. During the past decade he gained access to and meticulously studied hundreds of archive volumes belonging to the Communist-era State Security, or Darzhavna sigurnost. In them he has found some horrifying documents proving beyond any reasonable doubt what now NATO and EU Bulgaria got itself involved in when the Communist Party and the Warsaw Pact were in place. These include evidence of assassinations, or "wet jobs," arms smuggling and outrageous human rights violations perpetrated against ordinary citizens both in Bulgaria and in the ostensibly secure West.
With Bulgaria as a new EU member, Sofia supposedly joins the list of Europe's most significant capital cities, alongside London. Incidentally, London's new mayor, Boris Johnson, shares his moniker with the incumbent Sofia mayor, Boyko Borisov. Despite having a name connection, how deep do other similarities between the mayor of the East and the mayor of the West run?
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