site.btaMedia Review: December 1
While no single topic dominates the media on Friday, all media report on Boris Bonev's failure to be elected chair of Sofia Municipal Council for the third time, farmers' protests demanding increased aid, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's plane that flew over Turkiye and Greece, and not Bulgaria, en route to Skopje.
In a spread interview for Trud, political analyst and head of the Youth Conservative Club Krystian Szkwarek quotes data according to which the average Bulgarian is deeply conservative even though they are ashamed of such a label and prefer to call themselves liberal. On the other hand, Bulgarians are not deeply religious like other conservative societies such as those in Poland or the Southern States, which is why Bulgarians tend to deviate from the common view on abortion in these places. There is a nearly unanimous approval of abortions in Bulgaria, according to Szkwarek. Asked whether he would call any one party in Bulgaria conservative, Szkwarek responds that right-wing policies tend to be proposed by all parties with the possible exception of Continue the Change (CC) and Democratic Bulgaria (DB), as they are "core of liberalism par excellence". According to the analyst, the problem in Bulgaria today is that people are faced with the problem of choosing between liberal pro-European or the conservative anti-European, the latter of which is offered by parties such as Vazrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). He calls for the establishment of a centrist formation that favours Bulgaria's presence in a united Europe while also rejecting "the EU's liberal and destructive policies".
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An article in Capital is critical of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) floor leader Delyan Peevski. The text reads: "When in June 2013, then leader of the BSP Sergey Stanishev announced at a press conference that the nominated for and head of SANS [State Agency for National Security] for a day Delyan Peevski had experienced a 'serious personality catharsis,' reporters laughed heartily. Social networks were abuzz, and citizens were protesting on the streets of Sofia daily. Their riot was against the attempt to merge the deep state, of which Delyan Peevski has always been a representative, with the official authorities.
Today, 10 years later, we are still in the same place. Once again, the whitewashing of the image of the 'successful young man', as Peevski then called himself, is underway. Some of those who protested against him back then built slogans, entire campaigns and political projects on the image of the failed head of SANS. Thanks to the support they received for the promised fix of the mafioso state, today they are not only in power, but they rule precisely with Peevski. Their creativity in explaining their flip-flopping did not go much further than Stanishev's. On Wednesday, former minister and current CC-DB MP Daniel Lorer announced on TV that Peevski together with the MRF had changed 'for the better'."
The article concludes that Lorer and Stanishev's explanations are practically the same and continues: "[...] it would be wise to recall what happened after the first catharsis of the MRF MP - within a few months he literally usurped the state, big business and the media. The political leaders of the BSP and the MRF, who provided him with the backing for this, Sergey Stanishev and Lyutvi Mestan, slowly but surely disappeared from the political landscape after Peevski replaced them with [GERB leader] Boyko Borissov. The latter, however, was at least wise enough not to publicize his obvious collaboration with the Magnitsky sanctioned figure. Now in the role of Stanishev and Mestan are some of the leaders of the CC-DB, who give legitimacy to Borissov and an alibi to Peevski to live in the bright side of politics".
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BSP leader Korneliya Ninova addresses the assemblage [a word that is often used for the government of CC-DB and GERB (and its support from Movement for Rights and Freedoms) when the speaker wants to underscore its perceived unprincipled nature] from Duma's frontpage, saying: "Stop using the government only for money and interests. You have assembled to distribute portions and interests. Ninova proceeds to blame GERB leader Boyko Borissov for the status quo and for having turned Parliament into a place where MPs racketeer each other. BSP Deputy Floor Leader Georgi Svilenski states that the solution is to have the government resign and to have "everything in the state restarted".
SOFIA MUNICIPAL COUNCIL
Boris Bonev, the candidate of CC-DB and Save Sofia, told Nova TV: "We had constructive talks with the parties about Sofia Municipal Council. While BSP and Vazrazhdane responded, GERB categorically refused. [...] These people have no intention of being constructive and making the council work. Their only goal is to sabotage the city government, hitting the handbrake of Sofia".
There Is Such a People MP Ivaylo Valchev told Nova TV: "When the mayor is chosen by one political party, it is logical that the local parliament is headed by an equally remote person [from all parties] with good expertise. For us, this is Plamen Danailov".
Telegraph's frontpage states that the ban on old cars in Sofia city centre that will be in force between December 1, 2023, and February 29, 2024, will do little to reduce air pollution in the area. The daily points out that the ban does not take into account the results of a given car's annual motor vehicle inspection but only its emissions category according to the Euro Standard, which could contradict the ordinances issued by the Bulgarian government. On Thursday, Sofia Mayor Vassil Terziev wrote on Facebook: "This is an old decision from the previous city council that we need to comply with. However, my team will carefully analyze the effect of the introduction of the zone. We will then submit a proposal to Sofia Municipal Council on how the zone should continue to operate after the end of the mandatory period. Unfortunately, the previous municipal team did not carry out an active and clear explanatory campaign, which could lead to confusion among people. Therefore, we will be tolerant at the beginning and citizens will only be warned at the first violation. For subsequent offences, fines will be imposed".
This week's issue of Capital is dedicated to the Bulgarian real estate market. An article in the magazine comments that there are plenty of signs that the market, more specifically the housing market, is cooling down, as prices are increasing more slowly. The text reads: "While nobody expects a crisis and a sharp decline, all the euphemisms for keeping prices down before the downturn are already in use - 'cooling', 'discounts', more time for deals, etc.". According to the author, factors in this market that statistics do not take into account are corruption and its influence. Some of the illegal money obtained through corruption is 'invested' in real estate through cash purchases or even the construction of entire buildings. The indirect effect of corruption on real estate comes from the overall decay of the business environment. In the absence of a functioning judiciary to guarantee property and people's rights, with compromised regulators and state bodies, even those who have earned money in an honest way have few options for investments in Bulgaria. When inflation is high, and the cost of keeping your money in the bank is high, as it is now, buying property remains the only alternative. And people are buying. The result is about a 30% vacancy rate in Sofia.
24 Chasa's frontpage reports that wealthy Europeans, including more than 20 Bulgarians, have been defrauded of millions after being called to invest in company shares. One entrepreneur from Plovdiv, South Central Bulgaria, saw a Facebook ad for cryptocurrencies and decided to register for the service. After that, he received a call. The person on the other side convinced him to work with their investment company. The entrepreneur then installed AnyDesk, a remote desktop application, on his computer, which allowed the alleged fraudsters to install additional software on the machine. The entrepreneur used that software to invest EUR 10,000. He was told that he earned EUR 25,000 from his investment in OpenAI shares, the company behind ChatGPT. After transferring sums a few more times, the victim was convinced that his investments were worth more than EUR 3 million, but when he tried to cash in on them, he was told that the investments had all been lost in binary options. The entrepreneur ended up with a loss of EUR 300,000. Natural persons in the EU are prohibited from investing in binary options due to them carrying a high risk of total loss.
The title of an article in Capital reads: "Does anyone in Sofia Municipality read the cleaning contracts?". The text reports that a day after the heavy snowfall in Sofia, crossing any boulevard in the city was a real challenge, since snow plowed off the roadway had only been pushed near sidewalks, preventing pedestrians' easy access to crossings. The article says that the contracts with the cleaning companies clearly state that it is the contractors' duty to load the snow in question and remove it.
An article in Duma quotes data, according to which Bulgaria needs some 17,000 nurses, 1,000 GPs and 460 psychiatrists more than it currently has. The country also needs about 2,000 obstetricians more to improve the service. Pleven, North Central Bulgaria, is the only city that has a sufficient number of GPs working. Deputy Health Minister Ilko Getov said that students are not sufficiently incentivized to study for nurses due to the flawed payment system.
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An article in Telegraph cites data from the Do You Know What You Are Breathing initiative launched by Kakvodishash.org, according to which the air in half of the classrooms in the country is a perfect incubator for viruses. The initiative adds that the stale air in classrooms drastically diminishes pupils' cognitive abilities. The study is based on data collected from 29 educational facilities spread across six cities.
The Bulgarian National Radio and 24 Chasa quote an interview that Pavel Kolev, former executive director of PFC Levski Sofia and current head of PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv, gave for Radio Free Europe. Kolev alleges: "It is an open secret that match fixing takes place [in Bulgaria]. I am among the people who would love to find out its scale, because I am absolutely positive that some of the loudest football functionaries, including club presidents, are part of the match fixing. This is also about pressure on referees, because on the pitch referees are a means to an end. Of course, it is also about pressure on players". Kolev spoke about his time working for Levski, sharing that at times he had been threatened when trying to defend the club's interests. He also said that another club approached Levski with an offer to "swap wins" in two different tournaments, which did not take place after all.
Kolev also spoke about a recently surfaced photograph in which the outgoing president of the Bulgarian Football Union, Borislav Mihaylov, is seen in the company of Dan Tan, a Singaporean businessman who faced charges of match fixing in Italy and Hungary. Kolev spoke with Mihaylov some 12 or 13 years ago to confirm whether rumours at the time that Mihaylov was involved with Dan Tan were true. Mihaylov denied the rumours, which "it turns out, was not quite right," Kolev said.
Telegraph and Trud report that Bulgarian Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova will star in The Apprentice opposite Sebastian Stan. Bakalova has been cast to play Ivana Trump, the first wife of former US President Donald Trump, who will be played by Stan.