"Mafia Muscles Its Way Into Politics Bulgaria," read a headline in The New York Times. "Politics is played to the death in Bulgaria, where the lives of politicians can be as cheap as spent bullets and murky business groups wage a murderous struggle for their cut of everything from real estate deals to millions in European aid."
Think you have wasted a week at the local Interior Ministry office trying to renew your ID card? Be glad you're not trying to get a business license or a planning permission. "Starting a business in Bulgaria still takes too long – 49 days – and the minimum capital requirement is an additional obstacle for entrepreneurship", 24 Chasa reports.
While Bulgaria waited for the European Commission's report, the government sent Brussels its own update – which didn't include a single arrest, indictment or conviction of mafia bosses or corrupt high-ranking government officials.
What do Bulgaria and Botswana have in common? Not much, except similar restrictions on freedom of the press. Not that younger Bulgarians don't care much - they're too busy watching naughty video clips on their mobiles than pay attention to the mainstream media.
Hard times for the Bulgarian government. Bulgaria was again criticised by the EU during the visit of José Manuel Barroso, which took place against the background of the ongoing scandal in the Interior Ministry in Sofia. Meanwhile, what some newspapers see as the amalgamation of organised crime, private business and politics make Bulgaria appear bogged down in a vicious circle of corruption and inefficiency.
Bulgaria observed its national holiday with flags at half-mast, as the government declared national mourning for nine victims of a train fire. Little did the subdued revellers know that more bad news was on the way: the latest round of sanctions from Europe. Only a pat on the back from the United States - and malicious glee over the falling dollar - could cheer Bulgarians up.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers