FORUM

WHY DO SO MANY BULGARIANS LOVE RUSSIA?

In the 1990s and early 2000s Bulgaria, a former East bloc country, was an enthusiastic applicant to join both NATO and the EU. Twenty years later the initial enthusiasm has waned. There are now parties with sizeable, albeit still politically insignificant, support that demand a Bulgarexit, first from NATO and then from the EU. Their declared "love" for Russia is being echoed even by people who approve of NATO, the EU and the West in general.

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LIARS OR BEING LIED TO?

Тo understand the current predicament of the Changes Continued political party, one of whose leaders, Kiril Petkov, was prime minister in 2021-2022, one needs to consider the characteristically complicated background.

Kiril Petkov and his mate, Asen Vasilev, are both Harvard-educated economists who returned to Bulgaria and started their own businesses. Their ascend into politics was somewhat unexpected. They were put forward by... President Rumen Radev.

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TRAINING BULGARIA'S YOUTH HOW TO DEBATE

Оne of the (many) notable things Marcus Tullius Cicero said over 20 centuries ago is that "to live is to think" – and if we are not ashamed of what we think we should not be ashamed to voice it. His prophetic adages have a particular relevance in a world dominated by social networks, fake news and manipulative media where one of the most important things for every individual is to make their thoughts heard, loud and clear. And it is impossible to attain that unless you are trained to debate.

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WITH BOTH EUROS IN THE PAST

In spite of the protestations of the ruling "fixture" between PP-DB (Changes Continued of Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev and Democratic Bulgaria of Gen Atanas Atanasov and Hristo Ivanov) and Boyko Borisov's GERB about the "top national priority" of joining the euro zone, Bulgaria is still failing to handle the nuts and bolts. Its prospects to adopt the euro, notwithstanding its attempts of almost 15 years, are in the future.

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WHO IS AFRAID OF VASIL 'SKULL' BOZHKOV?

While Bulgarians left, right and centre are quibbling over the fate of a pile of stones crowned by some sculpted Red Army soldiers in central Sofia, the state prosecution service quietly terminated a case started by Vasil Bozhkov, one of this country's wealthiest entrepreneurs, alleging he was forced to give north of 60 million leva ($35 million) in bribes to Boyko Borisov (then prime minister), Vladislav Goranov (then finance minister) and Sevdelina Arnaudova (then Boyko Borisov's chief public relations officer).

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RUMOURS OF GERB'S DEMISE TURN OUT TO BE PREMATURE

Polling agencies got it wrong again

If the multitude of opinion polls were to be trusted, the election results would have been very different. The PP-DB (Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria), which currently runs the country through its coalition government with Boyko Borisov's GERB (which it insists is not a coalition but a "fixture") should have won Sofia hands down. It should have done a lot better in most bigger towns and cities as well.

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CHURCH OF DISCONTENT

Colourful and gilt-domed, looking like a toy, the St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker church in central Sofia is known to Bulgarians simply as the Russian Church. It is a hot spot for tourists vying to take a selfie with the gold-plated domes, the fairy-tale facade decorations and ornaments, and perhaps join the line of pilgrims in front of the crypt who wait patiently to be able to deliver their wish notes to the tomb of Serafim Sobolev.

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PP-DB'S FALSE STARTS

Notwithstanding the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Nikolay Denkov's "fixture" (the word he uses to describe the government), several bits of legislation put forward by the rulers and quickly voted into law have raised eyebrows and prompted a significant amount of laughter. Critics have viewed them not as just poorly thoughtover and hastily fixed (pun unintended) pieces of legal literature but as evidence that in spite of the huge claims of competence by the PP-DB "clever and beautiful" intellectuals the goods actually delivered have been at least substandard.

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UPS & DOWNS OF BULGARIAN ANTISEMITISM

А crudely-cut cartoon circulating on social media shows Former Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, who is Jewish, being held by two Nazi-clad soldiers. The text (in Bulgarian) reads: "If you don't want Russian gas, we will give you some of ours."

This journal has rarely abstained from calling a spade a spade whenever it comes to the Bulgarian political apple cart, but in this particular instance we thought the cartoon was so tasteless, offensive and plainly disgusting that we will not reprint it, not even for illustration purposes.

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IT'S THE HISTORY, STUPID!

In 2013, when the Inland Revenue agency started a probe into alleged wrongdoing by then President Rosen Plevneliev, he famously excused himself: I am not a Martian. Plevneliev had been a minister for Boyko Borisov. The latter personally handpicked his nomination for president  – explaining, in his inimitable style, that if he had put forward a "donkey," it would have been elected.

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