BULGARIA POLITICS

MYTHS TRIUMPH OVER COMMON SENSE

If Jung and Freud were to meet in Bulgaria and hold one of their notorious disputes, Jung would probably win: mythology would get the upper hand over analysis.

Notwithstanding the sometimes very complicated details of the daily twists and turns of Bulgarian politics under GERB, they can be summed up with what some Western commentators describe as Post-Truth Politics: a strongman leader at the top tells myths to his audiences and is then able to get away with it for a long, long time because voters are led by emotions rather than facts.

Thu, 10/27/2016 - 13:22
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NO VOTE, NO WOE

Less than a couple of months ahead of the presidential election scheduled for 6 November, the ruling GERB refuses to disclose who its nominees are for fear they might be put under pressure by uncompliant journalists and get asked the wrong set of questions. Read this again. You've got it right.

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 12:48
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NEW SETBACKS FOR BULGARIA'S DEMOCRACY

The Bulgarian parliament approved a draft counterterrorism bill meant to give wide-ranging powers to law enforcement. The bill will empower the army to be able to make arrests and assume policing functions. It would also grant the police rights to detain citizens, impound vehicles, destruct property, tap communications, impose surveillance on emails, listen in on phone calls and so on and so forth, acting only on suspicion and without any evidence.

Wed, 08/03/2016 - 11:46
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ONE OF GERB'S POTEMKIN VILLAGES

Prince Potemkin, the Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman, artist and reputedly lover of Catherine the Great, once erected a series of cardboard villages to impress his patroness on her visit to Crimea, in 1787. Since that time, the expression "Potemkin Village" has gone down in all world languages to denote a pretentiously showy facade intended to mask or divert the attention of the public from the unpleasant reality. Erecting Potemkin villages has been used with great success throughout the history of the Soviet Union, now Russia.

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 14:31
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PLENTY OF VENOM

Imagine you spoke Bulgarian, watched Bulgarian TV, bought Bulgarian newspapers, conferred on important issues with your Bulgarian pals on FB, and delved into the darker recesses of the Internet where there are plenty of nebulous websites purporting to carry news about Bulgaria. If you did that, you have two options. One is to go mad within a couple of hours. The other? You will discover that the sort of Bulgaria "described" by the media is very different from the Bulgaria you see on Bulgarian National Television – or out in the street.

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 13:05
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FREEWHEELING BULGARIA

There are two ways to interpret Bulgaria's Boyko Borisov's out-of-the-blue announcements that he was terminating a series of public contracts because he had heard rumours that the contracts, concluded under the Public Works and Contracts Act, had not been sufficiently transparent. One is to believe the prime minister that he is serious about fighting corruption and the sort of nefarious practices Bulgaria has gained notoriety for in the EU.

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 15:04
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IN GERB'S STRANGLEHOLD

When in a society everyone wants to have full power, it indicates that its members are ready for either tyranny or anarchy, the two opposites of freedom, said Professor Lyubomir Miletich, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Miletich, who was born in Stip, in what is now the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in 1863 and died in Sofia in 1937, did not live long enough to see what his compatriots, many decades on, would be doing with tyranny, anarchy and freedom.

Mon, 01/04/2016 - 14:50
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Boyko Borisov.jpg

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.

Tue, 11/03/2015 - 15:51
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PRO-RUSSIAN BULGARIA

Many people in Bulgaria sincerely think that the West in general and the United States in particular are responsible for Ukraine's wish for more democracy which led to Russia's annexation of Crimea, for the emergence of the IS, for the increasing instability in the Middle East and, most recently, for the fecal spillout in one of Bulgaria's top resorts at the southern Black Sea coast. They tend to think that it is the West and the United States that "stirred up" trouble in Ukraine, "created" the IS and so on and so forth.

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 15:55
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georgi markov statue.jpg

GEORGI MARKOV COMES BACK TO BULGARIA, SYMBOLICALLY

Bulgaria has notoriously failed to help solve one of the most gruesome crimes of the Cold War, the 1978 assassination in London of dissident writer Georgi Markov. No one has been brought to justice. Yet, in 2014 the writer got honoured, at least symbolically, by the erection of a statue of him, placed in one of the squares in the Lozenets quarter in Sofia.

The statue was sculpted by Plovdiv sculptor Danko Dankov and paid for by a Bulgarian emigre doctor in the United States, Georgi Lazarov, acting through his St George Foundation.

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:21
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B. B. IS BACK?

Well, how did it happen that the GERB emerged first in this election? Do you now anyone who voted for them? The second time I got asked this question, I started thinking. When someone asked me for the third time, I knew the answer. Yes, I know 680,838 people who voted for Boyko Borisov. That's the number of votes the GERB garnered at the latest European Parliament election.

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 11:55
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BORISOV'S BOYKOVISMS

Bulgaria's short history of democracy is fraught with events and personalities unseen anywhere else in the former Warsaw Pact. In 1990, for example, less than a year after the removal from power of Todor Zhivkov, Eastern Europe's longest standing tyrant, Bulgarians went to their first general election with more than one party standing, and voted in... the people they were supposed to get rid of, the former Communists.

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 11:30
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DARK CLOUD WITH TINY SILVER LINING

None of the Bulgarian parties standing in the EU elections in May, except Ataka – which said it was opposed to "Euro perversions," meaning same-sex partnership rights – had any stand on any of the major issues Europe is faced with. No political party in Bulgaria was even remotely concerned about unemployment, climate change, the fate of the euro, immigration (as opposed to asylum-seeking) and all that. Going to the ballots in May was a purely domestic affair. The 25 May event in Bulgaria was played out primarily as a litmus test for the popularity of those in power at the moment.

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 12:49
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WHY DO BULGARIANS LOVE RUSSIA?

I recently zapped through the channels on my old analogue TV set and came across a programme that caught my eye. It was a documentary about the Allied bombings of Sofia. Footage of what central Sofia looks like at the moment were interspersed with archival material showing bombed-out top floors of interwar condos, destruction of tram lines on Dondukov Boulevard and the general chaos associated with a war air raid. Not sweet at all. Then elderly ladies and gentlemen were interviewed on or off camera.

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:14
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VAGABOND MEDIA 'THREATENS' NATIONAL SECURITY

Normally, I would not have put pen to paper to critique critics of our work. This is reserved for other critics. Critics as such have the right to agree or disagree. They have the right to use or not use arguments to elate or denounce a collective work in the form of a book. They have to abide to a set of generally accepted principles in doing that – or they may choose to ignore it. They have the right to see the point – or miss it partially or in its entirety.

Sat, 11/30/2013 - 13:28
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REFUGEE 'CRISIS'

As dozens of Syrian refugees enter the country, mostly illegally and mostly through the Bulgarian-Turkish border, the Sofia establishment is failing to even address the issue in its entirety and complexity. Politicians bicker, and amid the flow of accusations and counteraccusations traded among former strongman Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the current rulers the Bulgarian state is failing to handle the most basic needs, including food and shelter, of the hundreds of new arrivals from war-torn Syria.

Wed, 10/16/2013 - 10:29
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FOR A FEW STRETCHES OF ASPHALT

The current ruling coalition comprising the BSP, DPS and Ataka is busy digging into the GERB party sewers frantically shovelling wagonloads of slime to pour over Boyko Borisov's head – accusations of financial mismanagement, corrupt cronyism, gross intrusion into citizens’ privacy and so on and so forth - in the hope that the muck will be so sticky that its stink will remain in voters’ nostrils come the next election. So how will posterity assess the legacy of the "Greatest Living Bulgarian"?

Fri, 08/30/2013 - 12:08
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