Press Review

Sofia, December 3 (BTA)


"Sega": An Interior Ministry action plan says an emergency situation can arise if more than 250 to 300 illegal migrants cross the Bulgarian border in 24 hours and the Migration Directorate's holding centres, which accommodate 700 people, are over 70 per cent full. The latest reports show that nearly 60 per cent of that capacity was filled in September when it accommodated 418 migrants. In September alone, 464 people were detained, but just 98 were arrested at the border and the rest were apprehended in the interior of the country. The document says an emergency situation will require posting to the border more border guards, gendarmerie and police from the country's interior. The State Agency for National Security and the intelligence service must tighten surveillance and seek more information about the causes of increased pressure. The plan also shows that the Interior Ministry will rely on serious support from the armed forces.

"24 Chassa": The Supreme Court of Cassation may revoke civil forfeiture in case of terminated criminal proceedings. The court is expected shortly to make an interpretative ruling which is mandatory for all courts. The daily says the legal community is waiting for the decision which affects 315 asset forfeiture cases brought by the anti-corruption commission. Forfeiture cases are instituted when a person is indicted and there is a discrepancy of over 150,000 leva between his income and his assets in the last ten years. Some of those cases are about the assets of banker Tzvetan Vassilev, publisher Ivo Prokopiev, former energy minister Traicho Traikov, and Parliament's former deputy leader Hristo Bisserov. The daily says many judges believe that the termination of a criminal case cancels an asset forfeiture case. A case in point: Hristo Bisserov was acquitted of money laundering but there is an ongoing forfeiture case against him for a house and a garage. Anti-corruption commission member Nikolai Kolev is quoted as saying that civil forfeiture is not a punishment - it targets assets acquired with ill-gotten money. He also says the commission has filed a total of 833 claims for the forfeiture of assets worth over 3 billion leva.

"Troud": The National Drug Addictions Centre says about 565,000 Bulgarians aged between 15 and 64 have used a drug at least once. The  Centre's study confirms an upward trend: from 5.2 per cent in 2005, 6.4 per cent in 2008, 8.6 per cent in 2012 and 11.2 per cent at the end of 2016. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people seek treatment every year. Marijuana is the most widely used drug, with 8.1 per cent of the population saying they have tried it at least once. Heroin and morphine use is in decline.

"Telegraf": Foreigners are restoring heritage buildings in Bulgaria. A former American serviceman has bought landmark buildings in Veliko Turnovo (North Central Bulgaria) to restore them, and a German dentist is already restoring the house of poet Petko Todorov in the town of Elena.


"24 Chassa" reports that Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has approved the extradition of Dimiter "The Eyes" Zhelyazkov, who was charged as the ringleader of a gang involved in racketeering, extortion and arson, and was arrested in a hotel in Istanbul in the summer. Now the decision to extradite Zhelyazkov must be coordinated with Turkey's ministries of the interior and foreign affairs. Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, his deputy Ivan Geshev and the head of the International Department of the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office reportedly discussed the extradition during a visit to Turkey early last week.

The same daily profiles Alexei Trifonov, the newly elected President of the Sofia City Court.


"Sega" reports that GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms have reached a compromise on proposed amendments to the Religious Denominations Act which caused tension among the religious institutions. Practically all substantive amendments proposed by the power-sharing United Patriots coalition will be dropped before the second reading debate, including tighter control by the government's Religions Directorate, sermons in Bulgarian only, a ban on foreign financing, and a licensing requirement for clerics who studied abroad.

"24 Chassa" says Danail Kirilov, Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, has suggested that 750 leva of an MP's salary should be withheld to discipline those who register for a plenary but are absent when the quorum is checked by roll call, in which case they still get their full salary. The proposed amount is about a quarter of an MP's base salary. Parliament Chair Tsveta Karayancheva said the motion would be debated this week. Socialist MPs have boycotted plenaries for a couple of months, with non-attendance planned in such a way as not to lose their salaries.

Interviewed by "Telegraf", Emil Radev MEP (EPP/GERB) says 2019 will be key to Bulgaria's entry in the Schengen area. Many countries in Central and Western Europe are afraid that if land border controls are lifted for Bulgaria and Romania, many people will be able to go to the Scandinavian countries and Germany. The cause for this concern is that Greece allowed 900,000 migrants to cross its borders without registering them or taking their fingerprints, says Radev. Commenting on a statement by Party of European Socialists President Sergei Stanishev that lifting only air border controls would be an unacceptable compromise for Bulgaria, Radev says that any entry in Schengen would be a success and would make things much easier in the future.

Culture Minister Boil Banov was interviewed by "Troud" ("Decentralization is Key to Culture") and "24 Chassa" ("We'll Make an Art Island near Sozopol with the Louvre").


"Troud" says representatives of China's top 10 online tour operators will attend a business forum in Sofia on December 9-10, aimed to make Bulgaria a Balkan hub for Chinese tourists. The forum is organized by the Bulgarian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI) as part of the delegation's tour of nine European countries. Chicken livers and tripe soup are the Chinese tourists' favourite Bulgarian dishes, says BCCCI Chairman Luchezar Dinev. Large numbers of Chinese tourists travel in what is a low season in Bulgaria: between September 15 and November 1, and between January and March 15, Dinev says.


"Troud" and "Monitor" frontpage photos of US Ambassador Eric Rubin at the traditional charity bazaar of the International Women's Club in Sofia on Sunday, which brought together diplomats from 60 countries. The proceeds will be donated for education, health care and social causes. "Monitor" says baklava pastry and German sausages were the first to sell out.

"24 Chassa" reports that the Mt Pirin resort of Bansko is opening part of its ski runs on Monday. A one-day card will cost 35 leva until all ski runs are opened, compared to 65 leva in the high season.

"Troud" reports that Bulgarians have been donating communist-era objects. The Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences has received more than 1,100 objects in the last seven months, including a large collections of ties, a set of 1,000 pocket-size calendars, as well as toys, medals and clothes.


"Douma" leads with the state-of-emergency option considered in France after the riots. "Sega" quotes France 24 TV channel as saying that more than 130 people were injured in the capital, including 23 members of the security forces. More than 400 people were arrested and police fired tear gas and water cannon. President Emmanuel Macron discussed a state-of-emergency declaration with the prime minister and the interior minister. The three also considered starting negotiations with the protest movement, which has not structure or leader. The daily frontpages a vandalized statue of Marianne inside the Arc de Triomphe.