Issue 157

FOOTBALL PITCH OUTRAGE HIGHLIGHTS DEEPER PROBLEMS

Those Bulgarians old enough to remember 1994 are now appalled because in 2019 Bulgaria marked its worst ever loss, 0-6. To add insult to injury, the loss happened in Sofia, at the Stalin-era national stadium called Vasil Levski.

What Europe and the world will remember of that warm October evening when Bulgaria lost 0-6 to England, however, is not the outrageous score. Europe and the world will remember what The Guardian billed a miserable occasion… in a miserable stadium against a miserable opposition played out to a miserable backdrop of recrimination and bad blood.

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10 OUT OF 100

One of the most enduring tourism movements that several generations of inquisitive Bulgarian travellers have fond memories of is called 100 National Tourism Sites. It started all the way back in 1966 and, with significant modifications, continues to this day. Essentially, travellers are encouraged to visit selected attractions throughout Bulgaria and have their membership booklets stamped. In the past, whoever got 50 stamps was awarded a bronze badge.

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ON COMMUNISM, ANTI-COMMUNISM AND WHAT COMES AFTER

Among his many interests Communism – and what supersedes it – has had a special place on his rostrum. In his telltale style of combing the mundane with the philosophical, even allegorical, Lozanov begins this conversation, in his office at the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency located at Sofia's main thoroughfare that used to be called Lenin, by pondering over when exactly Bulgarian Communism ended.

There are two answers to this question. One is historical: Communism ended when former Communist leader Todor Zhivkov was toppled on 10 November 1989.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

Is there a prime minister who is closer to the people, who is more approachable?

Daniela Daritkova, chairwoman of the GERB parliamentary group

It is hard to establish who pollutes the air because air is everywhere.

Environment Minister Neno Dimov

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ARRIVAL CITY

As an airplane is swooping over a field beside Sofia Airport, two horses and a donkey do not look up, but keep grazing among the rubbish. Shacks made of bricks, corrugated iron and wood encroach upon the field. Heavy lorries with international logos rush by the shacks on the road from the airport and its business park.

This is an everyday scene from Hristo Botev, a neighbourhood bearing the name of the great Bulgarian 19th century poet and revolutionary.

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FORTRESS ON THE EDGE

Bulgaria's Route 86, that leads from Plovdiv to Smolyan in the heart of the Rhodope mountains, is a slow and winding drive through a maze of rising tops, dense forests, crumbling villages and depopulated towns. It is a route you take to escape from the urban noise into one of the quietest corners of Bulgaria.

It wasn't always so.

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TURKEY'S WORST KEPT SECRET

A cloud of dust appears on the edge of the horizon, where the flat plains give way to snow-covered peaks. As the cloud comes nearer, low thunder rumbles through the air. The noise increases, the dust rises. Amid the haze appear the heads, the bodies, the flying manes of horses, hundreds of them, black, chestnut, grey, white. They pass by, a mass of animals and dust, of galloping feet and changing colours. Then they disappear, the cloud of dust dissipating on the horizon, a dying rumble of hooves.

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MUMMERS & MORE

Yambol, in southeastern Bulgaria, has been a hub for various folk traditions for many centuries. Nowadays, alongside Pernik in western Bulgaria, it is thought of as one of Bulgaria's capitals of Kukeri, or mummers. An annual folk festival takes place in downtown Yambol, usually at the end of February or beginning of March, with mummers not only from the surrounding villages but also from all parts of Bulgaria that retain the tradition arriving by busloads to participate in a three-day folk extravaganza of loud music and even louder clanking of mummers' bells.

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BISHOP'S BASILICA OF PHILIPPOPOLIS

After centuries of oblivion, the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis got its first visitors. On 26 September diplomats, officials, journalists and members of the board of the America for Bulgaria Foundation were invited for a sneak preview of the archaeological site that was brought back to life in 2015-2019. The America for Bulgaria Foundation and Plovdiv Municipality support the restoration works.

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HEARSE, TWO RHINOCEROS, An excerpt from a novel

I was there early, so I went up to the second floor restroom. I seized the moment of seclusion, and scraped my own cave painting on the wall. It depicted a group of hunters who had surrounded a rhinoceros. The hunters were wearing suits and ties; it was we, the employees, and the rhino was the Agency. Satisfied with this epistle, I went downstairs.

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THE RISE OF BULGARIAN IT INDUSTRY

Recently Google announced a breakthrough in development of a technology that until not that long ago sounded as science fiction – a quantum computer. Using principles from quantum mechanics, which even Nobel prize winners in physics define as beyond ordinary human logic, quantum computers will increase exponentially the capability for information processing and storage.

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EVENT WORTH MILLIONS

Well planned events all look the same: the participants are satisfied, the goals are achieved, the nice memories are here. Not well organised events all fail in different ways: bad weather, bad dynamics between participants, insufficient advertisement, low attendance, food poisoning… The only thing that stands between the two is the professional event planner.

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