FORUM

WHO BROKE INTO NATIONAL REVENUE'S COMPUTERS?

The latest scandal to grip Bulgaria has affected about 6 million Bulgarians. Someone, a computer hacker or a group of hackers, had successfully penetrated the National Revenue databases and stolen bits of the personal details of practically everyone of working age in Bulgaria. Of the 6 million, about 4.66 million are alive and 1.38 million are deceased. The hacked data covered a period of about 10 years. The leak was announced with an email sent from a Russia-based server and written in broken English.

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WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS IN BULGARIAN MEDIA?

Under Boyko Borisov, Bulgaria, ostensibly, has all the trappings of a democracy. Elections, generally pronounced by international observers to be free and fair, are being held once in a while. Freedom-of-speech is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Arbitrary arrests of dissenters are supposedly a thing of the Communist past. Everyone, in theory, has access to justice. There are televised debates, policy platforms, endorsements.

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HISTORY BY PETITION

History school textbooks in Bulgaria, to a lot greater extent than, say, geography or biology textbooks, are regularly the stuff that hacks build their conspiracy theories on. This usually happens at the beginning of the summer for three reasons. The Bulgarian publishers start rolling out new textbooks for the next school year. Politics are usually low key as Bulgarians head to the Greek seaside, leaving their TV sets unattended.

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BULGARIA'S ELECTIONS BOGEYMEN

What will probably go down in history as the dullest election campaign in Bulgaria post-1989 was marked with a single trait. Politicians vying to get into the European Parliament (with all the goodies this entails, including salaries of about 8,700 euros per month plus copious allowances plus good pension plans, and so on and so forth – unthinkable for ordinary Bulgarians or for Bulgarian national MPs) resorted to a tried-and-tested technique to woo voters: scaremongering.

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TO BREXIT OR NOT

I have to confess that I am addicted to Brexit, but in the remote Bulgarian village where I live I am not the only one. Even here, everybody is glued to the BBC news. The future for the hundred or so Brits is uncertain and my Bulgarian neighbours are worried too. Their grandchildren are working in London and Manchester and Birmingham, and nobody really knows how Brexit will affect them. We all gather around the TV to watch the crucial votes in the House of Commons, as if it were a football match. But each time nothing is decided and the soap opera continues.

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NZ KILLER 'INSPIRED' BY BULGARIAN HISTORY

Though his name has been circulated thousands of times on the Internet, this journal has decided – out of respect for the victims and their families in what will go down in history as the deadliest act of terror in New Zealand – to desist using it. As Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, has stated, the main purpose of the self-proclaimed white suprematist who shot at and killed people, including children, praying in a temple was to gain notoriety. This journal will not give him that privilege.

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OFFROAD MADNESS

Spring adrenaline often needs to find an outlet, and on 20-21 April you have the perfect excuse to let it all out. For two days Hadzhidimitrovo Village, near Yambol, will host Tundzha Trail, one of craziest 4WD competitions. The event is a part of the Bulgarian championship and is organised by Yambol 4x4 Extreme Club and Tundzha Municipality. Though the championship has run for 12 years, this is the first time Hadhzidimitrovo will host it.

The competition has competitive trials, each of them has nine zones with six gates. Participants have 12 minutes to pass through each gate.

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BULGARIA'S 'RIGHT WING'?

Twenty-nine years after the fall of Communism, Bulgaria stands more disunited than ever. Bulgarians are split not only between rich and poor; between those who can afford to pay their electricity bills and those who can't; between the people in the derelict villages and the people in Sofia and the large towns; between those who speak proper, Sofianite Bulgarian and those who don't; and between those who are favoured by GERB because they pay their dues and those who are out of favour and get their businesses destroyed.

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