Sat, 05/30/2009 - 21:18

Pontius Pilate, who did perhaps the most famous hand washing in history 2,000 years ago, has had an unexpected follow-up in Sofia.

war and rubbish.jpg
© Anthony Georgieff

On an April night, as some seasonal rain was falling over the city, vehicles bearing "National Crisis Headquarters" signs were washing the streets. On the following night, these same streets were washed again, this time by vehicles that did not belong to those national crisis headquarters.

This happened in a city where, as a rule, the streets are washed only on the eve of important events such as a NATO summit or a visit by Vladimir Putin.

Although it may look like it, the April street washing was not the symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was the outcome of Sofia's rubbish war between Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev and Mayor Boyko Borisov.

You have probably observed that Sofia is very dirty even by Balkan standards. Well, Borisov noticed it only in the third year of his term, and decided to terminate the concession contract with the main cleaning company, Novera. "If necessary, I will put all the municipal administration on the job – they will carry out sacks of rubbish. I'll be at their head," Borisov said, "but we have to break with Gaytanski." Rumen Gaytanski, nicknamed "Wolf," is the owner of Novera.

But Novera dealt a pre-emptive blow. At the beginning of March the company stopped collecting waste because it said it had not received its January payment. Borisov said this was a lie. Novera responded by removing its dustbins from the streets. Perhaps Wolf wanted to see "Bate" Boyko carrying sacks full of rubbish.

Then the government stepped in. At the beginning of April Stanishev declared an emergency and established the above-mentioned headquarters. "Sofia has never been cleaner," announced Borisov from Moscow and accused the government of inventing crises and protecting the Wolf. "I don't care about wolves, rabbits, pumpkins or any other flora and fauna," Stanishev replied and added something that can't be denied. "Sofia is the dirtiest capital city in Europe." Then he in turn accused Borisov of trying to award the attractive concession to companies connected with the mayor.

And then Stanishev employed Novera in the crisis headquarters.

This is how the absurd situation came about, with companies hired by the municipality and the government competing to clean the city which, strangely, continues to look dirty. But Stanishev's and Borisov's hands are clean. Both of them have seen to the health and the future of the city. They are ready for the elections.

Issue 32

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

three generations monument
Perushtitsa, now a small and offbeat town rarely visited by tourists, is known to every Bulgarian as the sight of a massacre in the failed April 1876 Uprising against the Ottomans.

gabrovo carnival
Though Dead Souls used to be on the national school curriculum, few latterday Bulgarians, and possibly even fewer English speakers, have actually read it, so here is a short synopsis.

buzludzha night.jpg
The Flying Saucer, which in recent years has become one of the Top 10 world monuments for urbex, or dark tourism, was constructed in the early 1980s. It was designed to celebrate the Bulgarian Communist Party, in control of this country from 1944 to 1989.

lz airplane
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.

airport bulgaria
In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled.

bulgarian parliament doors
Lovers of freedom were quick to cry fowl. Is this what the supposedly liberal, pro-Western Changes Continued government is doing? Protecting itself from the love of the general public with iron bars?

russian embassy bulgaria
A recent example is the Sofia City Council's decision to rename one of the streets around where the Russian Embassy is situated to The Heroes of Ukraine, and a nearby small square to Boris Nemtsov.

Boyko Borisov under arrest
As soon as the news of the Thursday evening arrests broke out a significant chunk of the Bulgarian population went into a frenzied jubilation comparable, according to one observer, to that goal at the 1994 World Championship Bulgaria scored against Germany.