site.btaMedia Review: February 20

Media Review: February 20
Media Review: February 20
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All TV morning programmes and the Bulgarian National Radio report on Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov's interview for the BBC's HARDtalk on Tuesday morning. The BBC reports that Bulgaria is trying to wean itself off Russian energy and send weapons to Ukraine, although many Bulgarians are still pro-Russian. Denkov asserted that the Bulgarian Government is doing everything in its power to prevent potential circumvention of sanctions against Russia.

POLITICS

Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov, who was in Godech, Western Bulgaria, on Tuesday morning, told reporters from the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), bTV and Nova TV: "If the Prime Minister [Nikolay Denkov] and the Deputy Prime Minister [Mariya Gabriel] agree, I will be ready to continue working after the rotation [planned for March 6, 2024]. Stoyanov was in Godech to launch a guard unit on the border with Serbia. Four years ago, after a reform in the Ministry of Interior, the border police in Godech were transferred to Kalotina. Now, 28 border guards are planned to work around the clock in Godech.

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24 Chasa reports that a new stage in the "battle" between the President's administration and the Cabinet is likely to take place in 2024, considering that the terms of 11 ambassadors and six consuls are coming to an end this year. Of particular interest is the Bulgarian Ambassador in Moscow Atanas Krastin, whose term ends over the summer. Six years ago, Krastin's nomination for the post involved controversy, as the Foreign Ministry, part of the GERB-UDF government at the time, had nominated Meglena Plugchieva for the post. President Rumen Radev ultimately chose to appoint Krastin. The new person to take the post matters in the context of the Russian war in Ukraine, but also because they are likely to set the nature of the bilateral relations between Sofia and the Kremlin.

* * *

In an interview for 24 Chasa, Miroslav Sevlievski, former energy minister of the National Movement for Surge and Stability, commented on the ongoing "war" between President Rumen Radev and the parliamentary parties. According to Sevlievski, the real victims of this conflict were There Is Such a People, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Vazrazhdane, as well as the extra-parliamentary parties. "The President filled nearly the entire opposition space and left no room for them in the heart of the public," Sevlievski said.

He continued: "The MRF [Movement for Rights and Freedoms] quickly felt that they would end up between a rock and a hard place, and immediately [MRF floor leader] Peevski stood against Radev. This in turn was a jackpot for him [Radev], because the Bulgarian public phenomenon was triggered – those reproached by the MRF gain electoral support, while those who are praised [by the MRF] lose."

The former minister stated that Radev "killed" all pro-Putin parties, which benefits Bulgaria. Thanks to Radev, there will be no Bulgarian equivalent to the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany that currently functions in Central Europe.

* * *

The Bulgarian National Television reports that delegations of the Vazrazhdane and ABV parties have visited Russia to participate in a forum organized by Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. The forum was dedicated to "the fight against modern practices of neo-colonialism", the Vazrazhdane said. Speakers at the forum included Vazrazhdane's Kosta Stoyanov and Angel Georgiev, who condemned all forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Similar views were expressed by ABV Chair Rumen Petkov and Deputy Chair Vladimir Marinov.

HOME AFFAIRS

An opinion piece in Duma calls Sofia Regional Governor Vyara Todeva "political lawbreaker", referring to Todeva's order to have the Soviet Army Monument in Sofia dismantled. The article criticizes all parties in the Sofia Municipal Council – Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB), Vazrazhdane and BSP-Sofia (Bulgarian Socialist Party) – for merging into one and choosing to turn away from the idea of dismantling the Borissov model (referring to GERB-UDF leader Boyko Borissov).

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24 Hours published an article, which reports that 43.3% of Bulgarians are scared of falling ill. The other two most common fears include falling into poverty with 36.7% and war with 33.5%. The data is based on a poll conducted by ESTAT among 1,008 adults between January 20 and February 6, 2024. ESTAT owner Ivo Zhelev told the daily that well represented, but without particularly high shares, are phobias of insects, rodents, reptiles, as well as disasters that involve water, fire, high altitudes, flying, etc. Only 2% of the respondents shared they had a fear of migrants, while 2.7% were worried about ecological threats.

* * *

Telegraph's frontpage reports that CC-DB are planning to introduce a bill that will have nearly 13,500 body cameras purchased for servicepersons of the Ministry of Interior by the end of the year. One of the bill sponsors, Ivaylo Mirchev, told Telegraph that the equipment will be purchased with funds from the Interior Ministry's budget or from the Road Safety Fund. He specified that a single camera is expected to cost between BGN 80 and 250. Mitko Dimitrov, head of the Interior Ministry's press service, reported that the Sofia Directorate of Interior currently operates with some 200 cameras, while almost 1,300 more will be distributed. Traffic Police officers are working with nearly 2,000 devices. A public procurement has been launched to purchase another 17,000 cameras.

ECONOMY

Trud quotes data from the Registry Agency, according to which real estate transactions in Sofia increased by nearly 44% from October to December 2023 compared to the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter, 10,075 property transactions were registered in the capital, compared with 7,001 transactions in the third quarter. Generally, the last quarter of the year is the best for the property market, and 2023 was no exception with 62,398 registered purchases of houses and flats from October to December nationwide. This is an increase of 15% over the previous quarter.

DEFENCE

Telegraph quotes the Chair of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, Hristo Gadzhev of GERB-UDF, who suggested in a Bulgarian National Radio interview that by the time Bulgaria receives the F-16 fighter aircraft that it purchased, it might still lack the necessary infrastructure to operate the aircraft. Gadzhev insisted that an audit must be performed.

TRAVEL

bTV reports that a one-day strike has once again paralyzed air travel in Germany following the recent protest by Lufthansa ground staff. Ten Frankfurt and Munich flights to and from Sofia Airport have been cancelled. All passengers are advised to contact their airline as soon as possible to get details about the next possible flight they can board, Sofia Airport told bTV.

HEALTH

According to data from the National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) quoted by Telegraph, close to 300 people a year get infected after suffering from tick bites. The most common disease is Lyme disease with 201 cases in 2023, followed by Boutonneuse fever with 89 cases. Four people came down with Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, while one person suffered from tick-borne encephalitis. The cases of tick bites increase proportionally with the rising temperatures. Between 10 and 30% of the parasites are disease carriers. Experts' advice is to seek medical help in case of a bite. Steps to remove the parasite such as pouring cooking oil on it or burning it with a cigarette are strongly discouraged, as they significantly raise the chances of infection.

* * *

Trud published a spread interview with Dr Grigor Gorchev, who was the first doctor in Eastern Europe to perform surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System 16 years ago. According to Gorchev, Bulgaria has seen good progress over these 16 years, as such robotic surgical systems are now present in hospitals across Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv, Pleven. Asked how robotic surgery is superior to regular surgery, he said: "There are many advantages. The way the system is constructed, it relies on artificial intelligence a lot. That, in combination with human intelligence, that of the surgeon, turns into a large intellectual force that can be used during a given intervention. In the United States and Western Europe, robotics is leading the way in treating mostly cancers, because with this system we are reaching very high precision, we are reaching areas that are otherwise unreachable with the naked eye. In addition, there is no blood loss, the patient recovers quickly, so the advantages are numerous."

Asked what should change in Bulgaria's healthcare system, the doctor said mandatory prevention should be introduced, which should include a full check-up before starting a new job. Additionally, every patient should be insured by a specific health fund that makes prophylaxis obligatory and covers the costs related to the patient's treatment.

ENVIRONMENT

An article in Telegraph reports on physicist Tsvetan Parov's research on Livingston Island. Parov, who is part of the 32nd Bulgarian Antarctic expedition, said that his work to measure the temperature interaction of air in the crevasses with the temperature of the near-surface atmospheric layer suggests that having the temperature of the glacier crevasses rise by just 0.2C would have a significant percentage of the glaciers melt. "This in turn could lead to serious global consequences," the scientist said. Trud specifies that the research was carried out by 15 sensors placed 20-metre-deep crevasses. The devices recorded temperature, humidity and direction of the air streams.

* * *

An article in Duma based on the National Statistical Institute's 2022 Annual Environmental Statistics Survey reports that last year, 75% of Bulgarians were connected to urban wastewater collecting system, of them 67.2% were connected to wastewater treatment plants. Last year, 179 such plants were reported to operate in the country.

CRIME

BNT reports that customs officers at Malko Tarnovo prevented an attempt to smuggle 9,405 grammes of silver and 2,170 grammes of gold jewellery in a car from Turkiye to Bulgaria. The undeclared jewellery, worth nearly BGN 300,000, was hidden in shopping bags. The smuggled silver and gold items have been seized. Pre-trial proceedings have been initiated.

/NZ/

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By 11:58 on 14.04.2024 Today`s news

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