Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in January

Written by on December 8, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in January

The year 2017 made sure it would not be forgotten, even during its first hours. On Bulgarian motorways and roads, drivers got stuck in loads of snow. The outgoing (and future) Prime Minister Boiko Borissov commanded a rescue operation which involved soldiers in tanks.

In early January of 2017, the Bulgarian Army uses tanks to open roads. Photo by Ministry of the Interior.

Because of the flu, the Ministry of Education in Sofia extends the Christmas vacations on January 3, 2017. At that point nobody knew the same vacations would be extended countless times, because of the extreme winter.

Not only in Sofia, people got pretty tired of the snow. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

“Snowmageddon” in early 2017 was tough and deadly. Several refugees froze to death of Bulgarian territory. Also, authorities ordered a complete ban on car traffic in Silistra, Shoumen, Varna, Razgrad and Rousse, which was an unprecedented step.

It was extremely cold on tram no. 23 in Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Temperatures in parts of Bulgaria slumped to -28 degrees Centigrade, at times. Lots of weather alerts were put in place. The situation in early 2017 was dangerous. Electricity consumption skyrocketed, the Danube froze. On January 13, Bulgaria halted all energy exports, due to the heavy winter.

Prof. Ognyan Gerdzhikov was Interim Prime Minister of Bulgaria for several months. Photo by BNT.

In the meantime, polls were released on a regular basis, because of the upcoming early parliamentary elections. Those had become necessary, after Boiko Borissov’s government had stepped down in late 2016. He decided to give up after his candidate in the presidential election, Tsetska Tsacheva, lost to Rumen Radev. From January 27 to May 4, 2017, Bulgaria had an interim Prime Minister by the name of Ognyan Gerdzhikov.

While the snow just would not let up, prosecutors laid criminal charges against 6 out of 25 customs officers, who were temporarily held in Varna, due to the suspicion of corruption. Also in January, several former ministers and a former intelligence chief were facing charges of different kinds.

President Radev had his first little scandal 22 minutes after his swearing-in.

On January 19, 2017, president-elect Roumen Radev took the oath of office at the National Assembly in Sofia. During his first minutes in office, one of his statements made many MPs walk out of the Parliament. They did not agree with the new President’s tome, when he told them “You have one more week.” Then he intended to dissolve the Parliament, in order to open the way for elections. Radev’s inauguration finally took place on January 22, 2017.

Also in January, the ice on the Danube and a technical glitch caused extremely long lines of trucks at the Bulgarian-Romanian border. More trouble, this time at the southern borders, would come later in January, due to blockades organised by Greek farmers.

Hristo Ivanov, a former Minister of Justice, registers the “Yes, Bulgaria!” movement in January of 2017. Photo by “Yes, Bulgaria!”.

On January 26, 2017, the new interim Prime Minister Gerdzhikov promises stability during his watch: “Bulgaria will be calm and stable.” At the same time, many political parties scrambled to register for the early parliamentary elections Bulgaria was facing. One of the registrations, the one for the movement “Yes, Bulgaria!” would turn into a drama in February.

Year in review 2017: Bulgaria in February

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com