Issue 203-204

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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LONG LIVE RED ARMY MONUMENT

Other angry citizens have taken to the park, where the MOCHA is situated. They have set up tents threatening they will defend with their bodies the pile of stones which they see as epitomising the victorious Red Army's fight against Nazism, for which the Bulgarian nation should be "eternally grateful." In the agencies of the state pen-pushers of all shapes and sizes scurry to manifest why the Red Army moment cannot be dismantled, at least not in the foreseeable future.

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WHO WAS RENÉ CHARRON?

Not all people who make a big difference in history, or attempt to make one, are ahead of great governments or armies. Sometimes, humble clerks are capable of changing the lives of thousands, or millions, just by doing their job and showing compassion to the suffering of ordinary people.

A century ago, a Jewish Frenchman did just that for Bulgaria – twice.

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SOFIA'S TOP 10

Thanks to cheap flights or business travel, for many foreigners Sofia is their first, and last, glimpse of this country. Many prefer to head elsewhere to avoid the heat (in summertime), the slush (in winter) and the pavements (year round), and for those who opt to stay in the city, the capital remains a blur of experiences: the potholes and the noise, but also the pleasingly affordable bars and restaurants, the odd glimpses of interesting buildings, usually the St Alexandr Nevskiy cathedral.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

We have laws already. What are we ranting about? All tarts woke up 16 years later to remember they were raped. Like the case of that American film director whom they turned a monkey into.

Former chairman of the National Assembly Culture Committee Vezhdi Rashidov

Sofia must be hospitable to the people of Sofia rather than the Italians, Germans and Englishmen who come in weekends to have a beer along Vitosha Boulevard.

Vanya Grigorova, candidate for the Sofia mayoralty

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AMERICAN DREAM UNDER WATER

The meadow opposite the church in Gumoshtnik, the village whose name is unpronounceable for either locals or foreigners, resembles churchyards in many other Bulgarian villages. Two monuments stand there, honouring soldiers killed in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and the First World War. Again, as in most Bulgarian villages, the meadow is usually deserted. When the wars began, this particular hamlet near Troyan, in the Balkan Mountains, had eight lively neighbourhoods. Urbanisation after 1944 reduced that number to six. Now, according to the last census, about 240 people live there.

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WHICH TOWN IS A SPA CENTRE?

1. Where is the Baba Vida fort?

A. In Varna

B. On the Vitosha

C. In Vidin

2. The anti-government rebellion known as the September Uprising was in...

A. 1923

B. 1944

C. 1876

3. Where is the Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory?

A. In the Stara Planina

B. In the Strandzha

C. In the Rhodope

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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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WHERE IN BULGARIA ARE YOU?

Perched on a rocky outcrop, it marks the easternmost point of Bulgaria. It was erected in the middle of the 19th century by a French company working on commission from the Ottoman sultan who was keen on modernising the outer reaches of his realm. The lighthouse survived many wars, natural disasters and political regimes, and it still stands where it was supposed to be originally. But – like at least a dozen other interesting, intriguing or bizarre sites in Bulgaria – you cannot visit it.

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SLOW TRAIN COMING

How long does it take to cover 125 km? In a mountain range such as the Rhodope this is a difficult question. Even Bulgarian drivers who like to fly a

long roads as if they were exempt from the laws of physics have to slow down a bit along the winding roads of the Rhodope mountain range.

The Septemvri-Dobrinishte narrow gauge railway redefines the concept of slow travel. It takes the 125 kilometre long route in... 5 hours.

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JUST BUSINESS

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the business property market in Bulgaria and the world, but not in the way that most experts expected. The death of office spaces failed to materialise – instead, they changed to answer the transformations of how we work now. The inflation in construction materials seriously affected the prices of new buildings, and with movement restrictions and increased online shopping commercial spaces had to reinvent themselves, with interest switching from shopping centres to retail parks.

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ON A HUNT IN BULGARIA

Hunting provokes the most profound instincts embedded in our human nature. Today, people hunt not to survive, but for sport, to test their skills and to maintain populations of game and wildfowl in numbers that do not affect people's life and work. With its diverse landscapes, thick forests and clean rivers, and its location on the European bird migratory route Via Pontica, Bulgaria is understandably one of the best places for hunting on the continent. The reasons for this are not only in its nature.

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