Issue 175

AXPO BULGARIA: THE ENERGY TO LEAD AND SUCCEED

Energy: the more our civilisation evolves, the more it needs it to sustain itself. With human-induced climate change already happening, clever renewable power is the only solution to save our planet and ourselves. AXPO Group, a Swiss company, has for years been in the frontlines of developing, expanding and perfecting alternative energy sources. From sustainable energy solutions to power purchase agreements and development of state-of-art energy technologies, AXPO Group makes technological and business change possible.

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BULGARIA'S BALLOT SHOWDOWN

Most public opinion agencies got it wrong. Following a month of an exceptionally tepid (even in Bulgarian standards) election campaign, in which the coronavirus pandemic was hardly mentioned, Bulgarians went to the polls to elect their new parliament. The voter turnout was about 50 percent, which is about usual for Bulgarian elections. Bulgarians, contrary to what pollsters of all shapes and sizes had predicted, defied the coronavirus frenzy and went to cast their ballots in person, both in Bulgaria and abroad. They voted with their feet.

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NATURE MEETS CULTURE AT BELOGRADCHIK ROCKS & MAGURATA CAVE

Abandoned villages, depopulated towns, potholed roads: signs that things have gone horribly wrong in the recent past define the Bulgarian northwest, officially the poorest region in the EU. Vegetation engulfs abandoned factories built during Communism when the economy was subsidised – and left to rot during the turbulent transition to democracy and the open market. As industries failed, locals departed for Sofia and the West. What remained was an ageing population, crumbling infrastructure, crime and despair.

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COFFEE AND CROISSANTS, PLEASE

It probably is, but the genius computerists hide themselves very well, and certainly do not work for Boyko Borisov's government.

A set of supposedly confidential documents in MS Word, Excel etc, outlining Bulgaria's plans to request money from the EU for the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan post the Covid-19 pandemic were posted on Google Drive. Whoever did that left the docs unlocked, so anyone could edit and so on.

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DAY OF ST GEORGE BULGARIAN STYLE

Bulgarians celebrate St George's Day, or Gergyovden, with enormous enthusiasm, both officially and in private. A bank holiday dedicated to valour, the Bulgarian аrmy and shepherds, 6 May is when some priests bless military banners while others in churches and monasteries consecrate lambs to be slaughtered and eaten communally. The army stages a parade in central Sofia and Bulgarian families gather to feast on lamb and celebrate the name-day of the ubiquitous Georgis and Gerganas among their ranks, all named after St George.

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WHAT IS CHITALISHTE?

Travel outside Bulgaria's big cities and a particular building will attract your attention. Prominently located in the central square of villages and towns, usually with a grand staircase, a heavy colonnade and a decorated pediment, it radiates importance. It is usually well maintained.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

GERB are tired of ruling and the people are tired of being ruled by GERB.

Mihail Mikov, MP from BSP

Your mission is to revive parliamentary democracy in this country.

President Rumen Radev addresses the new parliament

PCR tests should be much cheaper, but this is what you get when healthcare becomes a business.

Professor Todor Kantardzhiev

We have ordered enough vaccines for two Bulgarias.

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WHITE WATER RIDES IN BULGARIA

City fatigue is one of the most acute consequences of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. For the weary Sofianite, there is somewhere in Bulgaria that offers rapid relief. An hour and a half drive out of town, the jagged and winding Struma Gorge is hell for motorists and heaven for nature lovers. At this part of its course, the Struma squeezes through narrow bends, flings itself from rocks and creates whirlpools.

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RHODOPE'S CITY OF GODS

Deep in the heart of the Rhodope, Perperikon is an ancient town that over the course of millennia perched, Machu Picchu-like, atop a rocky hill. Commanding stupendous views of the valleys below, it covers over 1,200 acres – supposedly the largest megalithic site in the Balkans.

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THE WRITER AS SPY

I have a story in which the main character is a voyeur. It is called The Red Room. Every few months this guy rents a new place to stay in search of more and more new scenes for observation. One night, the lens of his powerful telescope falls upon a room flooded with intense red light. It is completely empty, except for the plain wooden chair in the middle. For days, weeks on end, our voyeur observes the room, but no one enters. The chair remains empty and the red light streams relentlessly into the night.

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THE CALL OF THE WILD

Let's go back to nature! This is the motto of the modern urbanite in 2021, when the time for planning the summer vacation arrives. People who feel unconvinced in the safety of hotels and big resorts have now fixed their eyes on an alternative way of holidaying: camping.

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