Issue 109

BEST VILLAGE CHURCHES IN BULGARIA

Some are centuries old, with mediaeval murals and strong stone walls untouched by time. Others are the result of the revival of the Bulgarian national consciousness in villages that were once lively but are now inhabited mainly by tourists. Many are at village centres while others are remote from any inhabited place, the sole remnant of some long forgotten monastery, or a village submerged by some dam.

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PECULIARITIES OF VRATSA

In Bulgaria, there is only one museum besides the archaeology and national history ones in Sofia where you can see a great Thracian treasure in its (almost) full ancient glory. No, this museum is not in Varna, nor in Plovdiv or Stara Zagora.

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STONED RHODOPE

Traditional architecture and music, great food, and mystic landscapes: the Rhodope, the mountain range that covers a significant part of the south of Bulgaria, is cherished by nature lovers for many a reason. Its strange rock formations are one of them.

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THE UNBULGARIANS TRAVEL AROUND BULGARIA, END IN SOFIA

It was organised by the Free Speech International Foundation and the Multi Kulti Collective, supported by the Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein NGO Programme under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area.

The UnBulgarians show the "Bulgarian life" of people from New Zealand to the United States, from Russia to India, and from Peru to Japan, but also of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan Africa, asking thought-provoking questions about multiculturalism, tolerance and national identity.

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WHAT IS MUZEIKO?

Most museums in Bulgaria are still stuck somewhere in the 1970s in terms of the organisation of exhibits, captions layout, photography policy and the content of gift shops. In recent years this has started to change with places like the Stara Zagora's history museum and the Pliocene museum at Dorkovo village, in the Rhodope.

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EXPAT CAPITAL

Expat Capital is the largest independent Bulgarian company for managing individual investment accounts. It manages three mutual funds and over 500 clients with their personal portfolios of financial instruments. Expat Capital is the brainchild of Nikolay Vassilev, who was minister in two governments in the 2000s. Vassilev, who had been an investment banker before he took up politics, has now made full circle.

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'RUSSOPHILES' VERSUS 'RUSOPHOBES'?

Let us imagine that back in the 1970s I had two pupils who shared a desk – Ruska Filova and Rilka Russofobska. Ruska Filova studied Bulgarian philology at university and came to appreciate the superiority of the Slavic soul. Inflamed by her love of Russian culture, she became a teacher in a provincial town. She now endures low pay and complains that her pupils no longer behave. Rilka Russofobska studied English philology and now lives and works in the big city. They are both my friends on Facebook, and both now are engaged in a relentless war of words.

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BULGARIAN ORTHODOXY'S RESPONSE

The Bulgarian Holy Synod, the most senior body of the Orthodox Church, issued an official statement urging the government not to accept refugees who did not belong to the Christian, preferably the Orthodox, faith because, it said, refuges jeopardised, among other things, Bulgaria's very statehood. In this way Bulgaria's top priests put themselves at sharp variance with most other Christian churches in the world, including The Vatican, the Church of England, most Protestant denominations, and even other Orthodox churches including the Greek and the Romanian.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

I am a lawyer, a movie director and a specialist in theory and history of art. Don't ask me about arithmetics.

Maria Musorlieva, deputy head of Sofia's Election Commission

75 percent of all actors are homosexuals and degenerates.

Iliyan Todorov, MP from Ataka

It was a mistake.

Businessman Alexey Petrov, after he survived an attack with two grenade launchers

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DEMOCRACY NEARLY KILLS BULGARIANS

The Armeets Sports Hall, inaugurated with much fanfare by no one lesser than the sitting prime minister, Boyko Borisov, and hailed as the largest in Sofia, turned out to be quite comfy for a game of basketball to be watched by 12,000, but miserably not enough for about 5,000 officials who were supposed to bring in the ballots they had counted in their constituencies to what in Bulgaria is known as the Central Election Committee.

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DELICATE THUGS, An excerpt from a new novel, entitled Gently, Lovingly, Farmingly

Billy was an old-school hustler. His complexion revealed a few things – a bachelor still living with his 75-year-old mother who provided for him, permanently devoid of work habits, managing the local soccer team on and off in exchange for a puny salary granted by the village mayor as compensation for his active involvement during elections i.e.

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