Issue 146

BULGARIAN CLASSICS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Like any other country with a small language, Bulgaria has some fine writers and poets who remain virtually unknown to the world because their work has never been properly translated. (It is an entirely different issue why Bulgaria, unlike other countries with small languages, has done little if anything to sponsor the translation of its authors). People like Pencho Slaveykov, Geo Milev, Nikola Vaptsarov, Elin Pelin and Dimitar Dimov – all fine poets and writers with dramatic life stories, could have become international household names had they written in German, French or Spanish.

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ALEKSANDAR HANGIMANA: THE ART OF FINDING TALENTS

Finding and keeping talents for any business is one of Bulgaria's greatest challenges. The country's official unemployment rate of 5.4% is both good and bad news. More people work and the wages in the most rapidly developing sectors have significantly increased. Shortage of skilled labour, however, can become an impediment for Bulgaria's economy.

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MY FREEDOM VS YOUR FREEDOM

Freedom of speech suffered yet another serious blow in the EU's poorest member state when the Office of the Chief Prosecutor accused Elena Yoncheva, a TV journalist and now the floor spokesperson for the opposition BSP, of "money laundering." Yoncheva's alleged crime was that she received funding from the bankrupted KTB, or Corporate Merchant Bank, run by Tsvetan Vasilev. Her real crime, however, is that she has been critical – uncompromisingly critical – of Boyko Borisov, his GERB and their extreme nationalist allies.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Enough of revolutions. Give us quality.

Vezhdi Rashidov, GERB's former culture minister, on cultural policies

Sometimes Europe needs a convenient scarecrow, and Bulgaria has taken that role.

Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev

There are countries where cartoons of the prime minister and the president appear 2-3-5 times in a year. In Bulgaria it happens every day.

PM Boyko Borisov on Bulgaria's media freedoms

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URBEX BG: ABANDONED RUINS INCREASINGLY ATTRACT URBAN EXPLORERS

Yet the sombre aura of desolation and utter despair exuded by modern ruins can be evocative. They simultaneously frighten, disgust and enchant. When walking around spaces that were abandoned mere decades before, we begin to reflect on the people – almost our contemporaries – who used to live and work there, and who then left, leaving behind a soiled rag here, a rusty bed or a desecrated image of a once powerful party leader there. Who were these people? What did they experience there? Such places remind us of the fragility of our own civilisation.

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RETURNING 'BULGARIANS'?

Forget the run-of-the-mill calls for Bulgaria to expand towards three seas (namely, the Aegean and the Adriatic, in addition to the Black), the protests against the Treaty of Neuilly, which ended the First World War for Bulgaria, and the incessant ramblings about the "Turkish Yoke." Bulgaria's new "patriotism" finds increasingly ingenuous ways to stir up fatherland-loving sentiments with social media. Facebook, which in Bulgaria is by far the most popular, leads the way.

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SVESHTARI TOMB: UNESCO-LISTED THRACIAN SITE PRESERVES RARE ARTWORKS

One place, however, reveals more about Thracian history than anywhere else in Bulgaria. Situated on some hills along the bends of the Teketo River, Sboryanovo Reserve offers a glimpse of a Thracian city and citadel, plus several necropoli and shrines, and reveals astonishing building skills, gold treasures and important information about the religion, economy and social life of the Thracians.

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FROM PETERSBURG WITH LOVE, AN EXCERPT FROM A TRAVELOGUE

Russia's former imperial capital captivates visitors with its history,

its culture, and the splendid riches of its palaces

The dark river flows and does not sleep,

it whispers quietly, tells tales to keep,

about tsars, tsaritsas, and their palaces,

about their past of glory and their countless odysseys.

The river knows, it's seen it all, through this enormous town it's always flown,

under many bridges it now runs, so that its loyal night guards they become.

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GAME OF IDEAS

I I recently visited the renovated home of close friends, but after I was showed around and we sat for a coffee in the living room, I felt something strange. There was something odd, but I couldn't put my finger on what was it.

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THE BIG GIFT-GIVING

The presents for Christmas and New Year are one of this season's best things. It is hardly so only because we receive a new item: we live in a world where one visit to the mall or a browse in a shopping site allows us to buy whatever we want; and the money will even not touch our hands. Christmas and New Year presents, however, are charged with special emotion.

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IRRESISTIBLE: BULGARIAN WINE DESERVEDLY WON OUR LOVE

There were exceptions, of course, when everyone just loved the wine offered.

Not anymore. Today, the type of the wine, the winery, the region, the grape and the taste are commented long after the drink was poured in the glasses and tasted. Most of the people around the table now have their opinions about and favourites among Bulgarian wineries, so they eagerly compare, point qualities and flaws, and analyse taste, aftertaste, aroma, body.

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