Issue 165

ILONKA RAYCHINOVA: TAXES MATTER

Nobody likes paying taxes. But when talking with Ilonka Raychinova, founder of Raychinova and Partners TAX & LAW, one starts to realise that this field of law is exciting and extremely important for both businesses and individuals who want to make the most of their ideas and the market while avoiding any breaches of the Bulgarian and European legislation. Mrs Raychinova's expertise is impressive. Before starting her own firm, she gained precious experience as head of the Indirect Taxes department at the Finance Ministry. She was also a Deputy Minister of Justice.

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LIBERAL DEMOCRACY SUSTAINS FURTHER BLOWS IN BOYKO BORISOV'S BULGARIA

Yet few expected something as dramatic as that: iPhone snaps of a half-naked prime minister sleeping across his bed, a bedside cupboard full of wads of 500-euro bills. Plus several gold ingots. Plus his favourite gun positioned on top. The images, anonymously sent to several media and subsequently widely circulated to the general public, might have befitted an underworld boss after an orgy of booze, sex and gambling rather than the prime minister of an EU member state. But photos do not lie. Welcome to the bedroom of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

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STUPID C*NT FROM KARDZHALI

Boyko Borisov, Bulgaria's prime minister during the past 11 years, may have many faults, his critics say, but he is without a doubt a master of the Bulgarian language. Borisov's virtuoso use of the lingo plays on many levels. His uncouth nativism enchants some domestic audiences, especially cab drivers and horsecart repairers. At the same time his obsequious promises of police cooperation endears his Western counterparts.

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LIONS BRIDGE

Unlike most great cities, Sofia is located neither at a sea, nor near an important river. The Perlovska and the Vladayska, the two rivulets that skirt the northern, eastern and southern boundaries of the city centre, are too small to count. In spite of this, the two bridges that span them, Eagles Bridge and Lions Bridge respectively, are deeply embedded in the life and fabric of Sofia. Besides presenting photo ops, they each have their own history and are conduits for much of the traffic into the city.

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LAND OF FAKE MYSTERIES

"I dislike bringing people here." The voice of the guide from the tourist office in Malko Tarnovo drops, as we approach the summit of Golyamo Gradishte, the highest peak in the Bulgarian part of the Strandzha mountains. It is summer. The sun shines through the thick foliage of the oak forest. The only thing negative about this pristine location, in the Strandzha Nature Park, are the midges that swarm around our eyes.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

The reduced VAT on baby food will, pray God, stimulate people to have more children.

Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov

The General Prosecution Office's reluctance to take in the many flagrant scandals and signals for huge corruption and theft of public money is a sign of fear and dependencies.

President Rumen Radev

Democracy is for disciplined people.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

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WONDERS OF STONE IN RHODOPE

When travelling around the Eastern Rhodope, you are bound to encounter this strange sight: on certain precipitous rocks, here and there, are scattered small, dark niches. Some are on their own, others form groups of dozens.

What are these strange niches, you might wonder. Nobody knows for sure, is the honest answer. The mystery of the rock niches that indent major cliffs in the Eastern Rhodope remains unexplained.

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DESCENDING EVEREST, An excerpt from a novel

Mt. Everest, April 2011

He knew he could conquer the anguish. His head pounded against dehydration and thin mountain air, as if a tiny demon lodged in his ear canal, pitchfork raised, the same demon who might whisper to him, What are you doing here, heading to the top of the world? Are you who you think you are?

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GREECE: WHERE TRAINS GO TO DIE

We have written extensively, with justification, about the many charms of Thessaloniki. A short drive from Bulgaria, the second largest city in Greece abounds with pleasures for both body and the soul. Excellent restaurants and charming cafés, a marvellous seaside promenade and atmospheric central streets, a lively openair market selling everything from olives to icons. Add the late-Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, Ottoman monuments, museums, bars, cultural events... You name it, Thessaloniki has it.

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HEALTHY AND HAPPY

In the endless weeks when we were forced to stay at our homes, pets proved to be of invaluable help. Even in the darkest moments, the long walks with our dogs and our cats' affection provided us with the much-needed feel of stability, love and even joy. For people who live alone pets became an invaluable company that helped them to deal with lockdown's psychological stress.

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STARTING IN BULGARIA

Conjuring an innovative idea, believing in it and in yourself, finding a way to turn it into a reality and developing it into something bigger that changes the lives of thousands or millions of people – this is the dream of any entrepreneurial person regardless of where in the world they live. But to make the dream a reality are needed a number of factors. Some of them are the result of sheer luck, others stem from the personal qualities of the individual engaged in the startup, and a third group comes from the environment where the young and ambitious firm develops.

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CREATING SMILES

If we decide to list the things that we automatically take for a valid truth the notion "nobody likes going to the dentist" will be probably among the first ten. Indeed, stressed by memories of painful experiences, drilling noise and unpleasant smells, millions of people all over the world each year postpone the prophylactic visit to the dentist – until it is too late.

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ELIXIR OF LIFE

Summer is no summer without beer. Cold and in a pleasantly sweaty glass, it gives us a gulp of freshness in the heat, accompanies us on the beach and at the restaurant, waits for us in the fridge to return home from work. We crave a beer equally badly both after a long hike in the mountain and a stressful day in the office. Whatever has stressed us during the day, a glass of beer on the table is a signal that we can forget our problems for a while, that we can relax.

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