Year in review 2017: Bulgaria in February

Written by on December 11, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Year in review 2017: Bulgaria in February

If a drama of the year had to be picked for 2017, it would have been the one about voting machines in Bulgaria. A few months before the parliamentary elections were supposed to take place, at the beginning of February, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the Central Election Commission had to provide voting machines in all 12,000 voting sections.

There was a slight problem: Bulgaria owns only 500 voting machines. This means, the country would have to get at least 11,500 voting machines within weeks, or cut the available ones in 12,000 slices. The big discussion surrounding voting machines ruled the news broadcasts and hundreds of articles.

The Bulgarian drama about voting machines would have won Oscars, if it had been a movie.

In the meantime, the new President of Bulgaria, Roumen Radev, needed to position himself, after he had been called the “Red General” in the press. Days after his inauguration, Radev said strengthening NATO should go “hand-in-hand with deepening political dialogue with Russia”. This decreased some fears on both the left and the right, but mainly the latter.

Radev took a pro-NATO and pro-Russia course at the same time.

At the beginning of February, all the snow finally starts melting. It becomes clear that the winter in early 2017 was the coldest in 69 years, while the political parties in Sofia start presenting their governance programmes, including former and future Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and the Socialists, which are lead by a woman for the first time. Kornelia Ninova is the boss.

In February of 2017, three radical right-wing parties join forces as the united Patriots.

On February 5, three radical nationalist parties join forces: Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO, as well as Volen Siderov’s Ataka. Two of these party leaders will be Deputy Prime Ministers a few months later, and one of them Minister of Defense.

In February, the first “cucumbers” arrive in Sofia.

While parties are trying to become elected, the Bulgarian capital Sofia gets the first of 28 “cucumbers”. They are trams donated by the Swiss city of Basel, which are so green that “cucumber” is the only appropriate name.

The movement “Yes, Bulgaria!” is forced to improvise in February.

Also in February, unknown saboteurs launch appeals against the “Yes, Bulgaria!” movement in court, using false names. The Bulgarian mafia is trying to stop those who say they want to fight it persistently. But, by applying a trick, “Yes, Bulgaria!” does get registered for the upcoming parliamentary elections, by becoming a coalition with the Greens.

In the meantime, Bulgaria’s caretaker government starts firing officials at ministries and replacing 14 of the 28 regional governors.

In February, Eurostat releases numbers which prove what everyone knew: Bulgaria is still hopelessly behind on its minimum wage, which is only 235 euro. In the poorest EU country, salaries are generally scandalously low, for a huge majority.

Bansko is one of the most popular skiing resorts in Bulgaria.

At the same time, the new tourist numbers come in, proving that the number of tourists in Bulgarian winter resorts hit a new record. So did the illegal rakiya production in monasteries. Bulgarian customs officers seize a total of 2356 litres of illegal rakiya from two monasteries in the country.

On February 12, 2017, a protest against the annual Lukov March takes place in Sofia. On February 18, 2017, it goes ahead, even though it is banned. During that march in honour of a Nazi criminal in Sofia’s city centre, police even escort the participating Nazis from Bulgaria, Sweden, Germany and other countries.

Xenophobia is being demonstrated in the Bulgarian municipality of Elin Pelin. A Syrian family of legal refugees does not get residence documents from the authorities there, in spite of the fact that it is their right to obtain them.

In February, US soldiers arrive in Bulgaria. they are part of “Atlantic Resolve”, a large exercise.

Also in February, US troops enter Bulgaria for the exercise “Atlantic Resolve”.


Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in January





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