Issue 70

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GOOD CAPE

Wherever you reach some higher ground in Bulgaria there will be a legend about it. And in 90 percent of the cases it will be about some brave Bulgarian maidens who jumped off it to avoid being "enslaved" by Turks.

Kaliakra is no exception.

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 13:24
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DERELICT BULGARIA, PART 2

Bulgarians are proud of their ruins. There is probably no expat in the country who has been spared the conversation with an overenthusiastic history lover boasting that Perperikon outshines the Acropolis in beauty and importance or that the new discoveries in Sofia's Roman centre make Rome itself look provincial in comparison.

Indeed, over their millennia of continuous habitation, the Bulgarian lands have acquired more than their fair share of prehistoric shrines, ancient cities and fortresses.

Mon, 08/20/2012 - 13:29
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SHAUL KAMISA RAZ

As I park outside the Israeli residence on the outskirts of Sofia in the sweltering heat a few days after what will probably go down in history as one of the most serious international terrorist attacks in Bulgaria, I cannot help but think of those awful pictures of the burntout bus in front of Burgas Airport. To Israelis, I know, this is the archetypal image of sheer terror, the end of civilisation and the beginning of barbaric fear.

Sun, 08/19/2012 - 12:50
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TERROR FACTOR

Bulgarians of the 21st Century like to think of themselves as a generally quiet people, who are more preoccupied with earning their daily living than engaging in any form of public agitation. However, a quick look at their history since Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 reveals that these lands have inspired violent nationalism, and often witnessed activities that from a modern perspective would be seen as nothing less than sheer terrorism, in terms of aims, organisation and execution.

Sun, 08/19/2012 - 12:44
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BURGAS: FROM BACKWATER TO PRIME TIME NEWS

Burgas, the quiet town on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast used mainly by holidaymakers as a gateway to the summer pleasures of Sunny Beach and Sozopol, is popular with Bulgarians and expats alike, but its name hardly rang a bell to anyone in the outside world who hadn't visited or had family contacts there. Suddenly, in the middle of July, the town became headline news across the globe as the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe of the 2010s, in fact the deadliest since Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 12:38
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THE FIRST SNOW

For Ian Anderson

"They're too high up, we can't reach them."

"I can get the ladder."

"Is it tall enough?"

"Yes."

"Well OK then. Let's go and get it."

The lads slipped quickly under the porch and Assen stamped his feet while Boris felt for the key. The first blizzards had passed and the sun had broken through. It was one of those sunny winter days, where you set out for a long walk. The snow glitters and crackles under your feet and the gutter spouts melt slowly.

Tue, 08/07/2012 - 11:50
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SOMEBODY FOR EVERYBODY

How he had knocked, Francine could not guess. But here he was. Or at least here was his head. Floating in the hallway outside her apartment, as if it had wafted over on the aroma of Mrs Singh's stir fry. She recognized the rugged, sunburned face she'd seen on his Match.com profile, except she had imagined it would be attached to an equally rugged, sunburned body. Had it been presumptuous to assume, at the very least, a torso?

Tue, 08/07/2012 - 11:36
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CHERNI VRAH

Sofia is perhaps an exception to the unwritten rule that every great city should be located either at sea or near a major river. Bulgaria's capital has a rare advantage, though: within an hour you can leave behind the noise and bustle of downtown and be climbing up a mountain.

With its 2,290-metre-high peak of Cherni Vrah, Vitosha is Bulgaria's fourth highest mountain. It is in the southern part of the Sofia Plain, and a mountain view or a house on its slopes command higher real estate prices in some parts of the capital.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 13:37
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WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

Few took it seriously and it was unflatteringly dubbed "The Fallen Messerschmitt," indicating its visual similarities with the German fighter aircraft that had gained notoriety during the Second World War for its exceptionally threatening looks.

Just a few years later it was already beginning to crumble, but so did Communism and no one paid attention – or cash, to upkeep it.

At the moment it is still in situ, falling apart and causing real danger to passers-by, although there are plans to dismantle the most hazardous parts of its top.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 13:19
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SECURITY BITES

In the wake of the Burgas terrorist attack Bulgaria's top policeman, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, announced "tightened" security measures to prevent possible further attacks. These include "enhanced protection" of Israeli and Jewish sites throughout the country, as well as a greater police presence at coach and railway stations, and on the Sofia underground.

Are they working?

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 13:01
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TOLERANT PESSIMISTS

According to a public opinion survey on www.opendata.bg conducted by the Open Society Institute-Sofia, in May 2012, more than half of the Bulgarians consider the present conditions in the country "unbearable." A mere six percent say they feel satisfied. The pessimists who think the situation has deteriorated make up 13 percent, a decrease of 2 percent compared to 2011. This, however, does spell more happiness, but can be explained with the fact that a higher 32 percent of those interviewed say that in 2012 things are as bad as they were the previous year.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:33
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STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

Health and social issues, education and culture, integration of minorities, ecological and human rights problems: NGOs could bring a lot of positive change to crisis-struck and austerity-crippled Bulgaria, but they are failing to deliver. The NGO sector in Bulgaria is struggling to survive and is in a state of severe internal crisis, as shown by the annual report of the non-government sector of USAID, or the United States Agency for International Development.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:28
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BIRALI BIRALI

Ever since Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 the relationship between the Christian majority and the sizeable Muslim minority (an estimated 1 million in 2012) has been, at best, controversial. Immediately after independence Bulgarian sentiments towards those Turks who had stayed behind in Bulgarian territory was mainly tolerant. However, various campaigns throughout the years leading to the Second World War were aimed at "Bulgarianising" the Bulgarian Muslims by name-changing, various religious repercussions and so on.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:28
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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Vitosha is burning, the government is sleeping.

Slogan describing the state's handling of a forest fire near Sofia

This is a return to Nazism or Communism.

Former Ambassador to London Ivan Stancioff (b. 1929) on the refusal of GERB-dominated Varna City Council to hear citizens' opinion on plans to allow construction in city seaside park

Journalists who serve the mafia are not real journalists.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:25
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WE'VE GOT MAIL

We rented a car and after a considerable amount of beach-hunting (all of them seem to have beach umbrellas and plastic chairs installed), we settled at a relatively empty beach near the oil terminal in Rosenets (beautiful views of a small island called, I am told, Bolshevik).

We sat down near some beach umbrellas, but a thick-set man came up immediately and demanded money. We told him we would only stay for an hour and did not want to use his umbrellas, but he ordered us out of the beach.

Is this the right thing to do in Bulgaria?

Jennifer S.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:22
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NEAR WHICH TOWN IS THE SECOND BULGARIA-ROMANIA BRIDGE OVER THE DANUBE BEING BUILT?

1. Which is the largest bay in Bulgaria?

A. Burgas Bay

B. Varna Bay

C. Rayski, or Paradise, Bay; near Sozopol

 

2. Near which town is the second Bulgaria-Romania bridge over the Danube being built?

A. Silistra

B. Vidin

C. Kozlodyu

 

3. Which of the following is the name of both a neighbourhood in central Sofia and a resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea?

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 11:22
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DEAR LEADER

<p>Bulgarian historians of the 21st Century have yet to assess whether Boyko Borisov's men have done more good than harm to Bulgaria, one would have thought, but teenagers in Bulgarian schools will not be given that opportunity, as they will conveniently be told about the period of history they are living through now in their high school textbooks.</p>

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 11:48
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