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• (DF) President Radev Appoints Kaloyan Metodiev Chief of Cabinet
August 19 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev Monday decreed the appointment of Kaloyan Metodiev as Chief of Cabinet to the President, the head of State's press secretariat said. Metodiev was born in Sofia on April 24, 1976. In 2001, he obtained a Master's degree in political science from the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, where he also specialized in foreign policy and national security. He is a doctor of political science with scientific publications in English, Serbian, Croatian, and Albanian. From 2010 to 2019, Metodiev was a part-time lecturer at the University of Sofia. From 2012 to 2017, he worked as an assistant at the Neofit Rilski South-West University. From 2015 to 2019, he was a political expert and chief analyst at the Institute for Strategies and Analyses. Metodiev is a member of the Strategic Council with the President. He uses English, Russian, Serbian, and Croatian. He is married with two kids. RY/DS
• (DF) July Annual Inflation Rises to 2.6% in Bulgaria, Falls to 1.4% in EU
August 19 (BTA) - Bulgaria's July annual inflation stood at 2.6 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent in June and down from 3.per cent in July 2018. The EU annual inflation rate was 1.4 per cent in July 2019, down from 1.6 per cent in June, Eurostat reported. The euro area annual inflation rate was 1.0 per cent in July 2019, down from 1.3 per cent in June. In July 2018, both the EU and euro area inflation rates were 2.2 per cent. The lowest annual rates were registered in Portugal (minus 0.7 per cent), Cyprus (0.1 per cent) and Italy (0.3 per cent). The highest annual rates were recorded in Romania (4.1 per cent), Hungary (3.3 per cent), Latvia and Slovakia (both 3.0 per cent). Compared with June, annual inflation fell in fifteen Member States, remained stable in two and rose in eleven. RY/DD //
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 19 (BTA)
• (DF) VMRO Calls for Scrapping Summary Proceedings for Serious Crimes
August 18 (BTA) - The VMRO party is seeking the abolition of summary proceedings, which lead to a reduction in convictions for serious crimes and urges introduction of chemical castration for sex offenders. They put out their position after a recent brutal murder of a 7-year-old girl in a south-central Bulgarian village. A 21-year-old local man has been arrested and charged for the rape and murder of the child. He has a police record for mollestation and theft. VMRO are preparing changes to the Criminal Code in this regard and are adamant that summary proceedings, which reduce sentences by up to a third, should be dropped, especially in when it comes to serious crimes as this "only leads to regression in criminals who, after 10 years in jail, find themselves on the streets and start raping and killing again". They insist that the right to justifiable self-defence needs to be expanded and implemented in criminal law as quickly as possible. Also, they are preparing to launch a debate on the introduction of chemical castration for rape, fornication and other sexual abuse cases. "At the risk of being slammed by the liberals and human rights activists of the NGO sector, we will not back down from our demands, which we have stood for for years and which we believe Bulgarian society has matured for," said VMRO, noting that VMRO leader and Defense Minister Krassimir Karakachanov's concept for integrating unsocialized communities is very relevant in this light. "Marginalization has no ethnicity, race or skin colour. Its language is universal and it has to do with a denial of order, values and morals, accompanied by inexplicable cruelty and violence," added VMRO. LN/DT
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 18 (BTA)
• (DF) 75 Kg of Cocaine Found in Bourgas
August 17 (BTA) - Seventy-five kilograms of cocaine worth over 5 million leva were found in a warehouse for fruit and vegetables in Bourgas. The drugs were hidden in cardboard boxes with bananas, prosecutor Georgi Chinev told a news briefing on Saturday. The cocain was found by accident as workers began unloading the fruit. The boxes had arrived by ship from Ecuador through Italy. They reached the Port of Bourgas on July 27. Two days later 19 containers with 20,626 banana boxes were unloaded from the ship and on July 22 they arrived at the warehouse. The recipient was a Bulgarian company. The cocain was put in 2.5 kg packs hidden in a way that only bananas showed when the boxes were opened. Also, it was covered with metal foil, probably to conceal it from X-ray scanners. An expert analysis is yet to establish the purity of the cocaine. It transired at the news conference that an unspecified number of boxes with bananas have already been sold in neighbouring Romania. DS/LN/ //
• (DF) Long Wait to Cross Turkey-Bulgaria Border
August 17 (BTA Special Correspondent Nahide Deniz) - A two-kilometre line of cars formed at the Kapikule/Kapitan Andreevo border control checkpoint towards Bulgaria on Saturday. According to the Kapikule customs administration, the heavy traffic at the checkpoint results from a mass return of Turkish nationals to European countries after the Muslim holiday of Kurban Bayrami. The traffic at the other border control checkpoints between Turkey and Bulgaria - Hamzabeyli/Lessovo and Derekoy/Malko Turnovo - is normal and the crossing into Bulgaria is faster, the Turkish customs administration said on Saturday, advising drivers to pass through these checkpoints rather than Kapikule/Kapitan Andreevo. Also on Saturday, the Bulgarian National Television reported heavy traffic on Strouma motorway towards Greece as a result of the high number of people travelling to this country on weekends. Kilometre-long traffic jams are expected to form later in the day on the secondary road connecting the southwestern towns of Doupnitsa and Boboshevo, where the traffic from Strouma motorway was rerouted after on August 13 a fire damaged a bridge on the motorway near Doupnitsa. The Road Infrastructure Agency said that to reduce the traffic, no heavy-duty vehicles will be allowed on the section from the Daskalovo road junction to the Koulata border control checkpoint from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and between Blagoevgrad and Koulata from 2 pm to 8 pm on Sunday. LN/DS
• (DF) Arbitration Court Closes Case on Omani Claims v. Bulgaria over Corpbank Failure
August 17 (BTA) - The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C. has closed the case initiated by the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of the Sultanate of Oman against Bulgaria over the failure of Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank). The proceedings ended after the SGRF renounced its claims thus precluding the possibility of the same claims being laid again, the Finance Ministry said Saturday. Arbitration Case No. ARB/15/43 "SGRF of the Sultanate of Oman v. Republic of Bulgaria" was instituted on October 22, 2015. The SGRF claimed 80 million euro in compensation for an alleged violation by Bulgaria of the standards for treatment of international investors established in the 2007 Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between the two countries through the actions taken by the Bulgarian Government, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) and the Bulgarian court whereby Corpbank was placed under special supervision and delicensed in 2014. Luxembourg-registered Bulgarian Acquisition Co., controlled by the SGRF, held a 30.4 per cent stake in Corpbank, then Bulgaria's fourth biggest lender. During the proceedings at the ICSID, Bulgaria submitted written evidence and opinions of world-renowned experts. In December 2018, the SGRF renounced its claims against the BNB and the other Bulgarian institutions. In view of this renouncement, the ICSID has rejected the SGRF's claims as ungrounded and has ordered the claimant to cover all of Bulgaria's expenses for the proceedings. LN/DS
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 17 (BTA)
• (NW) Black Sea Submarine Archaeology: History and Present-Day Successes
Varna, on the Black Sea, August 16 (BTA) - Submarine archaeology in Bulgaria is marking its 60th anniversary this year. Assoc. Prof. Preslav Peev, head of the Marine Geology and Archaeology Department of the Varna-based Institute of Oceanology with the Bulgarian Academy of Sci...
• (DF) Authorities Bust Group Involved in Counterfeit Money Distribution
August 16 (BTA) - The prosecuting magistracy has charged six persons with participating in an organized crime group involved in storing and distributing counterfeit euro banknotes in Bulgaria. The suspects were arrested two days ago in the capital and in the southern town of Sandanski. The police operation was also joined by a Europol expert, the prosecuting magistracy reported here on Friday. According to the evidence collected so far, the group was formed last September with the purpose of distributing counterfeit euro banknotes in Bulgaria, which would later spread into other EU Member States. There is evidence that in addition to the counterfeit money, the group was also offering cocaine to potential clients. The authorities have searched people, vehicles and residences and have seized a total of 122,200 fake euro in 200-euro banknotes. RY/MY
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 16 (BTA)
• (DF) Bulgarian Foreign Minister Visits North Macedonia to Open Bulgarian-Funded Social Centre
August 16 (BTA) - During her visit to Strumica, North Macedonia, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists that in 2019 the Republic of North Macedonia has been the largest beneficiary of Bulgarian development aid. "There is no other country that has received as much assistance from Bulgaria," the Foreign Minister noted. Zaharieva presented a new Strumica Municipality multifunctional social centre which was funded with 270,000 leva by the Bulgarian government. The centre was created to provide offices, training facilities and assistance facilities for NGOs working with people with disabilities. In 2019, the Bulgarian government has allocated a total of about 1 million leva for projects in North Macedonia. Bulgaria is currently helping fund the construction of a second centre in Ohrid for early autism diagnosis, the construction of sports facilities in Kriva Palanka, as well as the reconstruction of two bridges in Struga and in the village of Lozhani respectively. Another joint project, which Zaharieva singled out as very important, is aimed at cooperation between the media on both sides against hate speech. A press conference on the matter is scheduled for September. The presentation of the multifunctional social centre was attended by Strumica Mayor Kosta Janevski and North Macedonian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrej Zernovski. "Our intention is to become a member of the EU and to seek your experience on the road you have covered there so far," Janevski said. He also noted the importance of the social centre project, which will include six non-governmental organizations serving the interests of different groups of people with disabilities. Yanevski expressed his gratitude to the Bulgarian government. On Thursday evening, Minister Zaharieva attended a concert within the framework of the One Love Tour festival in Strumica. The festival features some of the most popular artists from both countries. RY/DT
• (DF) Producer Price Index in Agriculture Up 5.3% in Q2
August 15 (BTA) - The producer price index in agriculture in the second quarter of 2019 increased by 5.3 per cent year-on-year, the National Statistical Institute reported here on Thursday. The crop output index increased by 5.8 per cent and the animal output index - by 4.6 per cent. Compared to the previous year, the prices of agricultural output went up by 4.1 per cent. This increase was 4.9 per cent in the crop output price index and 3.0 per cent in the animal output price index. The index of prices of goods and services currently consumed in agriculture in the second quarter of 2019 was 3.1 per cent higher compared to the corresponding quarter of previous year and by 2.5 per cent compared to 2018. In second quarter of 2019, compared to corresponding quarter of 2018, higher prices were reported of: seeds and planting stock - by 1.7 per cent, energy and fuels - by 1.5 per cent, fertilisers - by 10.4 per cent, veterinary medical products - by 4.0 per cent and animal feeding stuffs - by 3.8 per cent. The prices of plant protection products were lower by 0.8 per cent. Compared to 2018, in second quarter of 2019 the price index of energy and fuels went up by 1.3 per cent, the prices of seeds and planting stock - by 2.1 per cent, fertilisers - by 5.5 per cent, veterinary medical products - by 4.9 per cent and animal feeding stuffs - by 3.3 per cent. The prices of plant protection products went down by 0.3 per cent. LN/MY //
• (NW) Archaeologists Unearth Rich Burial of Aristocrat at Cape Kaliakra
Sofia, August 15 (BTA) - Archaeologists have found a rich 14th century burial of a hitherto unknown aristocrat, Master George Palaiologos, at Cape Kaliakra on the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, the National Museum of History said. The excavations are headed by the Directo...
• (DF) Education Minister Approves Revised Texts on Communism in History Schoolbooks
August 15 (BTA) - Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev has approved the new history schoolbooks for 10th grade on Wednesday after the publishers made considerable revisions to controversial texts related to communism in Bulgaria. The revisions were required by the Ministry, the desebg.com website reported. The site, whose mission is to preserve the memory from the totalitarian communist period (1944-1989), was key in attracting public attention to the inadequacy of the schoolbooks offered by the publishers and their sugar-coated version of communism. The Education Minister told desebg that the publishers reacted positively to the requested changes. "Although every one of us wants the schoolbooks to look better, we are pleased with the change, because it is essential," Vulchev said.
• (NW) Education Minister Approves Revised Texts on Communism in History Schoolbooks
August 15 (BTA) - Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev has approved the new history schoolbooks for 10th grade on Wednesday after the publishers made considerable revisions to controversial texts related to communism in Bulgaria. The revisions were required by the ministry, the desebg.com website reported. The site, whose mission is to preserve the memory of the communist period (1944-1989), was key in attracting public attention to the inadequacy of the schoolbooks offered by the publishers and their sugar-coated version of communism. The Education Minister told desebg that the publishers reacted positively to the requested changes. ?Although every one of us wants the schoolbooks to look better, we are pleased with the change, because it is essential,? Vulchev said. ?I can say that the schoolbooks I have approved are nor in the spirit of the new curriculum and there is a clearly outlined attitude to the communist regime,? Vulchev added. All schoolbooks now include citations of the Act to Declare the Communist Regime in Bulgaria Criminal. The controversy about the new schoolbooks erupted on June 19, when desebg.com reported that in most of the five 10th grade history schoolbooks (of Bulvest 2000, Anubis, Domino, Rica and Prosveta publishers) there are essential omissions of important facts and events for the 1944-1989 period, as well as occasional glaring manipulations. A petition not to allow schoolbooks supplanting the truth about the communist period was supported by some 4,500. In the subsequent heated debate, Vulchev and his ministry received considerable support from a number of civic organisations, public figures, historians, parliamentary and out-of-parliament parties, and on June 25 he said he will not endorse the schoolbooks. He also demanded that the publishers change the texts about the period 1944-1989 and after 1989, desebg.com recalls.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 15 (BTA)
• (DF) Industrial Production Falls by 1.9% in June, M/M
August 15 (BTA) - Seasonally adjusted industrial production in Bulgaria fell by 1.9 per cent in June 2019 compared with May 2019, the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) reported on Wednesday. In June 2019 compared with June 2018, Bulgaria's industrial production fell by 3.5 per cent. EU-wide, seasonally adjusted industrial production decreased by 1.5 per cent in June 2019 compared with May 2019. In the euro area, it dropped by 1.6 per cent. In June 2019 compared with June 2018, industrial production decreased by 1.9 per cent in the EU and 2.6 per cent in the euro area.
• (DF) Tuesday Fire Stops Traffic on Strouma Motorway Section at Doupnitsa
August 14 (BTA) - A Strouma Motorway section near Doupnitsa has been closed to traffic due to a Tuesday fire that might have damaged a motorway viaduct. Traffic is detoured to other roads to bypass the facility. Partial state of emergency has been declared in the area of Doupnitsa until the end of Wednesday. An expert inspection of the bridge on Wednesday found that parts of it, including five of the 13 pillars and both lanes have been damaged by the fire, rendering the facility dangerous for traffic. Additional inspections and assessments need to be carried out before the urgent repairs start. The fire broke out in a pile of scrap stored near the viaduct and spread to a large area of dry grass and shrubs. A strong easterly wind blew black smoke kilometres away. On Wednesday, firefighters continued extinguishing a fire front spanning over 200-300 metres. Two crews of 10 firefighters and a team of 10 forest rangers were on the scene. The burning bales of plastic waste were removed from the bridge to be extinguished. The properties of residents of nearby villages are not at risk. After the measures to be taken and the damage sustained become clear, the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) will seek compensation from the owner of the scrap waste processing site, whose improperly stored waste had caused the fire. The Agency also said it is referring the owner to the prosecuting magistracy. Storing waste on, under or alongside viaducts is forbidden by law. Nevertheless, the company operating the waste site had obtained a permit from the competent environmental authority. The local Fire Safety and Civil Protection Service Tuesday extinguished six fires in the region caused by human negligence. RIA Management Board Chairman Georgi Terziyski has given the heads of all 27 regional road directorates until August 23 to inspect all viaducts for irregular use of the area under and near them. Doupnitsa Town Hall reported that pre-trial proceedings have been initiated in connection with the fire. The Municipality said that last year they alerted RIA and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water in Pernik (Southwestern Bulgaria) that the storage of waste under the Strouma Motorway viaduct at Doupnitsa posed a fire hazard. The Municipality has also filed lawsuits against the property's tenant, some of which have been won at first instance and are being appealed. According to the local authority, air quality measurements taken by the Civil Protection Service do not show any pollution in the area. Samples have been taken from the nearby villages of Blazhievo and Djerman, as well as from the site of the fire. LN/MY
• (DF) GDP Up By 3.3% in Second Quarter of 2019 Y/Y
August 14 (BTA) - In the second quarter of 2019, Bulgaria's gross domestic product (GDP) went up by 3.3 per cent compared to the same period of 2018, and by 0.6 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019, according to seasonally adjusted data. This is shown by flash estimates of the National Statistical Institute, published on Wednesday. According to the flash GDP estimates for the second quarter of 2019, GDP at current prices amounted to 28.099,000 leva for the given period. Gross value added amounted to 24,241,000 leva in the second quarter of 2019. According to the flash estimates by expenditure, the largest share of GDP went to final consumption (76.3 per cent), adding up to 21,445,000 leva. In the second quarter of 2019, gross capital formation totalled 5,683,000 leva, with a share of 20.2 per cent of GDP. The external balance (exports minus imports) was positive. In the second quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter, gross value added went up by 0.8 per cent according to seasonally adjusted data. According to the flash estimates by final expenditure, the seasonally adjusted GDP growth was determined by the gross fixed capital formation increase of 0.8 per cent and the final consumption increase of 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of the year. Year-on-year, the seasonally adjusted gross value added went up by 3.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2019. Final consumption registered a growth of 2.7 per cent. The seasonally adjusted gross fixed capital formation went up by 2.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 year-on-year. Exports of goods and services increased by 3.3 per cent, and imports went down by 5.5 per cent. RY/TH /TH/
• (DF) July Inflation Up to 0.8%
August 14 (BTA) - Inflation in July compared to June went up to 0.8 per cent, the National Statistical Institute said Wednesday. Inflation from the beginning of the year (July 2019 compared to December 2018) added up to 2 per cent, and the annual inflation for July 2019 compared to July 2018 added up to 2.9 per cent. The average annual inflation for the period August 2018-July 2019 compared to August 2017-July 2018 added up to 3.3 per cent. RY/TH
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 14 (BTA)
• (DF) Fire in Haskovo Region Spreads Over 800 ha
August 13 (BTA) - A fire has spread over an area of 800 ha, half of which are forests, near the southeastern villages of Bryagovo, Lyubenovo and Rodopi, the head of the Fire Safety and Civil Protection General Directorate, Chief Commissioner Nikolay Nikolov said Tuesday.
• (DF) Japan's Foreign Minister Kono Meets with Bulgarian Counterpart Zaharieva, PM Borissov
August 13 (BTA) - Emerging from talks with Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono here on Tuesday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said that Bulgaria would like to see more Japanese investments and tourists in this country. Kono is paying a two-day visit to Bulgaria at Zaharieva's invitation.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 13 (BTA)
• (DF) Overnight Stay Revenues in Tourism Up By 2.9% in January-June Y/Y
August 12 (BTA) - A growth of 2.9 per cent was reported in revenues from overnight stays in accommodation places with 10 beds and more, as well as in the total number of people who spent a night there. The information comes from data published by the National Statistical Institute for the period January-June 2019, which was cited on Monday by the Tourism Ministry.
• (DF) Prime Ministers Borissov of Bulgaria, Medvedev of Russia Confer at Economic Forum in Turkmenistan
August 12 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred here on Monday with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev within the framework of the First Caspian Economic Forum, the Government Information Service said. Borissov stressed the importance of top-level dialogue and expressed satisfaction that the discussion on pragmatic and mutually advantageous cooperation now continues after Medvedev's official visit to Bulgaria in March. The Bulgarian head of government stressed his country's interest in engaging in a mutually beneficial bilateral political dialogue with Russia on equal footing, in which Bulgaria is guided by its national interests while, at the same time, adhering to the common policy of the EU and NATO Member States. Borissov pointed out that Bulgaria is willing to pursue cooperation with Russia in matters of priority importance for Bulgaria in the economy, energy, tourism, transport, education, science, culture and social policy. Energy figured high on the two prime ministers' agenda. Borissov noted that Bulgaria pursues a policy seeking to ensure energy security for both Bulgaria and the EU. He emphasized that diversification is an important element of ensuring the security of gas supplies in the EU and added that Bulgaria is actively working on gas interconnector projects with the neighbouring countries. He drew special attention to the Bulgarian Government's hard work for the implementation of the Balkan Gas Distribution Centre project. The possibility of implementing the Belene N-Plant project under the conditions set by the Bulgarian side was also discussed at the meeting. August 19 is the closing date for the submission of applications for entry in the strategic investor selection procedure for the project. Borissov noted the need of capacities in the region to generate clean and affordable electricity, considering the ever more ambitions targets for a reduction of harmful emissions in all economic sectors. In this sense, Belene can provide precisely such source of electricity for the region. On transport cooperation, Borissov said that Bulgaria is interested in exploring opportunities for the launch of passenger Ro-Ro ferry links between Bourgas in Bulgaria and Port Kavkaz and Novorossiysk in Russia. Borissov expressed satisfaction with the recent 16th Session of the Bulgarian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and expects the Commission to hold its next session shortly and contribute further to the advancement of bilateral relations. For his part, Medvedev suggested to Borissov to explore opportunities opening up to Russia and Bulgaria and try "to complement the Black Sea and the Caspian dimension, especially if this earns dividends for the States and peoples in our countries," the TASS Russian News Agency reported. "This region has an enormous potential, and Bulgaria is located on the opposite side of the Black Sea and is a sort of gateway to the European continent. We usually discuss the subject of gas, but we must be aware that trade relations, rail transport, road connectivity, maritime transport, the hubs existing in both Bulgaria and Russia and to the north of that region open up enormous opportunities," Borissov told his Russian counterpart according to TASS. "The Black Sea must remain a sea of commerce, tourism and transport links involving ferries, yachts and gas pipelines," he added. RY/LG //
• (DF) Average Gross Monthly Wage Reaches LV 1,260 in Q2/2019
August 12 (BTA) - In the second quarter of 2019, the average gross monthly wage in Bulgaria was 1,260 leva, increasing by 4.3 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2019, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said on Monday, publishing early estimates. Compared with the second quarter of 2018, the average gross monthly wage in the second quarter of 2019 rose by 12 per cent (11 per cent in the public-financed sector and 12.4 per cent in the private sector). The largest month-on-month increase of the average gross monthly wage was registered in: electricity, heat and gaseous fuel production and distribution (up by 9.1 per cent); the hotel and restaurant business (up by 7.3 per cent); and education (also up by 7.3 per cent). The largest year-on-year increase was recorded in "other activities" (up by 17.3 per cent), real estate operations (up by 16.5 per cent), and education (up by 15.5 per cent). In April 2019, the average gross monthly wage was 1,281 leva, in May 2019 it was 1,246 leva, and in June 2019 it stood at 1,253 leva. Among people hired in an employment relationship or in a civil service relationship, the average gross monthly wage in the second quarter of 2019 was highest in: information and artistic products creation and distribution (3,053 leva); finance and insurance (2,174 leva); and electricity, heat and gaseous fuel production and distribution (2,048 leva). The level was lowest in: the hotel and restaurant business (782 leva), "other activities" (924 leva), and construction (974 leva). The NSI's early estimates also show that people hired in an employment relationship or in a civil service relationship at the end of June 2019 increased by 33,900 (1.5 per cent) compared with the end of March 2019, reaching 2.35 million. The largest increase was observed in: the hotel and restaurant business (up by 28.4 per cent); real estate operations (up by 7.9 per cent); and agriculture, forestry and fisheries (up by 3.6 per cent). The largest decrease was recorded in education (down by 2.4 per cent). At the end of June 2019 compared with the end of June 2018, people hired in an employment relationship or in a civil service relationship dropped by 3,000 (0.1 per cent). RY/VE //
• (DF) Revenue from Nights Spent Reaches Lv 205.4 Mln in June, Up by 2.6 Per Cent, Y/Y
August 12 (BTA) - The total revenue from nights spent at accommodation establishments across Bulgaria in June 2019 reached 205.4 million leva, which was 2.6 per cent up from June 2018, the National Statistical Institute reported here on Monday. Revenue from Bulgarian nationals has increased by 17.9 per cent this June, while that generated by foreigners has decreased by 0.5 per cent, year-on-year. The total bed occupancy of accommodation establishments was 45.4 per cent in June, which was 2.3 percentage points down from June 2018. The highest occupancy rate was reported at four- and five-star hotels (56.8 per cent), followed by three-star hotels (46.2 per cent), and one- and two-star hotels (26.3 per cent). A total of 3,018 accommodation establishments (hotels, motels, camping sites, mountain chalets and other establishments for short-term accommodation with more than 10 beds) functioned in Bulgaria in June 2019. They had 135,200 rooms and 304,100 beds in aggregate. The total number of accommodation establishments functioning this June has increased by 4.4 per cent, year-on-year, and the bed-places in them by 4.9 per cent. The total number of nights spent at all accommodation establishments in June was 4,036,700, which was 0.7 per cent fewer than in June 2018. The largest decrease in nights spent (4 per cent) was observed at four- and five-star hotels. A total of 64 per cent of nights spent by foreigners and 30.3 per cent of nights spent by Bulgarians this June were at four- and five-star hotels. A total of 26.5 per cent of nights spent by foreigners and 32 per cent of nights spent by Bulgarians were at three-star hotels, compared to 9.5 per cent and 37.7 per cent at one- and two-star hotels, respectively. A total of 1,028,800 people spent nights at accommodation establishments this June, which is 4 per cent more year-on-year. Decreases were registered among both Bulgarians (4.9 per cent) and foreigners (3.5 per cent). A total of 408,200 Bulgarians spent an average of 2.4 nights at accommodation establishments this June, compared to 620,600 foreigners, who spent an average of 4.9 nights, 65.9 per cent of which were at four- and five-star hotels. RY/MY //
• (DF) Bulgarian PM Borissov Holds Bilateral Meetings at Caspian Forum
August 12 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred here on Monday with Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and with Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov within the framework of the First Caspian Economic Forum, the Government Information Service said. Borissov and Jahangiri discussed the advancement of relations between Bulgaria and Iran. The Prime Minister noted that bilateral cooperation is promoted on the basis of 122 years of established diplomatic relations and mutual respect. He shared his good impression of his visit to Iran in 2016, when he became the first Bulgarian head of government to make such a trip in more than 20 years. Borissov highlighted the efforts to implement the understandings reached at the 19th Session of the Mixed Bulgarian-Iranian Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation. He sees these understandings as indicative of Bulgaria's desire to carry on its cooperation with Iran. At his session with Aripov, the Bulgarian Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with the overall state of bilateral relations and noted the growth of two-way trade over the last two years. Borissov sees a potential for more productive cooperation in trade, the economy and investments. Borissov is paying a three-day visit to Turkmenistan (August 10-12) at the head of a delegation. As part of the trip, the PM will participate in the First Caspian Economic Forum, which is taking place in Avaza on August 12. The Bulgarian head of government is expected to confer with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday. RY/LG //
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 12 (BTA)
• (DF) Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov Confers with Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow
August 11 (BTA special correspondent Hristo Vodenov) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow at the Avaza resort on Sunday. "Relations between Bulgaria and Turkmenistan are important and promising. I am convinced that the top-level bilateral dialogue will open new prospects for cooperation in the mutual interest," Borissov told Berdimuhamedow, quoted by the Government Information Service. The Prime Minister stressed Bulgaria's desire to pursue comprehensive, long-term and mutually advantageous partnership with Turkmenistan in a number of areas like trade, construction, energy and tourism. The head of government stressed the potential for cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkmenistan in energy security and diversification of natural gas sources and supply routes from the Caspian region to Europe. Borissov emphasized that Bulgaria aspires to keep its role as a strategic gas distribution centre and pointed to the hard work that his Cabinet is doing for the setting up of the requisite infrastructure. Borissov sees Turkmen gas as a potential supply source for the Balkan Gas Distribution Centre in the territory of Bulgaria. The guest expressed his country's readiness to engage in a dialogue with Turkmenistan on the opportunities for interaction in West-East and West-South transport connectivity via Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea. The Prime Minister singled out infrastructure as yet another promising area for cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkmenistan. In his words, it would be useful for both countries to exchange more information on the investment climate and intentions in this area. Borissov thanked the Turkmen President for inviting him to attend the First Caspian Economic Forum and congratulated Berdimuhamedow on the initiative and on the successful organization of this notable event, the first of its kind. The guest invited Turkmenistan's head of State to visit Bulgaria. Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister told journalists: "We are looking for ways to get Turkmen gas to Bulgaria. Turkmenistan is developing fast, but a gas pipeline (unlike an oil pipeline) cannot be built across the Caspian Sea on environmental considerations. At the same time, Turkmenistan is one of the three countries in the world with the largest natural gas deposits. We would like to find a way, and we will also discuss it with Russian Prime Minister Medvedev tomorrow, to transport gas from Turkmenistan via Russia to our Balkan Gas Hub." Later on Sunday, Bulgarian Cabinet members will take part in the 4th Session of the Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Turkmen Commission on Economic Cooperation. Borissov said that bilateral documents drafted by the Commission will be signed shortly. "Bulgarian companies are entering Turkmenistan, others will venture to enter, too, because their business is guaranteed," he added. The PM and members of his delegation on Sunday toured a Caspian Exhibition of Innovative Technologies, which was opened in Avaza. Borissov is paying a three-day visit to Turkmenistan (August 10-12) at the head of a delegation including Regional Development and Public Works Minister Petya Avramova, Transport, IT and Communications Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov and Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova. As part of the visit, the PM will participate in the First Caspian Economic Forum, which will take place in Avaza on August 12. At the forum, heads of State and government, leaders of Caspian countries, leaders of countries close to the Caspian region and representatives of international economic, financial, transport and environmental organizations will focus in the development of economic cooperation in the Caspian region, creating conditions for major projects, the global role of the Caspian economy, and the investment-attracting potential of the oil and gas industry, electricity, transport, trade, agriculture and tourism. Also on Monday, the Bulgarian head of government is expected to confer with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. RY/LG
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, August 11 (BTA)
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov Visits Turkmenistan
August 10 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrived Saturday in Turkmenistan, where the delegation led by him is on a three-day-long visit. As part of the visit, the Prime Minister will participate in the First Caspian Economic Forum, which will take place in the Avaza national tourist zone near Turkmenbasy on August 12, the symbolic date of Caspian Sea Day. The forum will bring together the heads of state and government leaders of Caspian countries, the leaders of countries close to the Caspian region, and representatives of international economic, financial, transport and ecological organizations, among others. Discussions will focus on the development of economic cooperation in the Caspian region and on creating conditions for big projects. During the talks, the leaders will also discuss the role of Caspian economy in a global context and the investment attractiveness in the industries of oil and gas, electricity, transport, trade, agriculture, tourism, and other spheres of common interest for the participants. In Avaza, Prime Minister Borissov will meet with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and will also take part in an extended meeting with the official delegations of the two countries. The officials will sign bilateral documents, drawn up by the intergovernmental Bulgarian-Turkmen commission for economic cooperation, which will also hold a session in Avaza. The Bulgarian delegation includes Regional Development and Public Works Minister Petya Avramova, Transport, IT and Communications Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov and Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova. RY/TH /TH/
• (NW) Bulgaria Joins FOEDUS-EOEO Platform for Managing Cross-border Organ Exchanges
August 8 (BTA) - Bulgaria has conducted successful negotiations and joins the FOEDUS-EOEO IT platform which provides an important tool for managing cross border organ exchanges, the Bulgarian Health Ministry said in a press release on Thursday. Ten EU member states are currently members of the platform, which is financed by the European Commission. France is the country in the platform which has offered the highest number of organs, 21, while Italy is the country with the highest number of transplantations of such organs, 16. Bulgaria is also conducting active negotiations on organ exchanges with Eurotransplant and several leading lung transplantation centres in Germany, Spain, and Austria. The negotiations were initiated after Austria announced it will no longer perform lung transplantations on foreign nationals. IG/ZH
• (DF) Consumer Confidence Improved in July
August 9 (BTA) - In July 2019, the total consumer confidence indicator increased by 0.8 percentage points compared to its level from 3 months ago, said the National Statistical Institute on Friday. This is due entirely to the increased confidence among the urban population.
• (DF) Bulgaria Joins FOEDUS-EOEO Platform for Managing Cross-border Organ Exchanges
August 9 (BTA) - Bulgaria has conducted successful negotiations and joins the FOEDUS-EOEO IT platform which provides an important tool for managing cross border organ exchanges, the Bulgarian Health Ministry said in a press release on Thursday.
• (DF) Alleged Instigator of Revenue Agency Hack Sent Back into Custody
August 8 (BTA) - The owner of cyber security company TAD Group, Ivan Todorov, was sent back into custody on Thursday after the Specialized Appellate Court concluded that his alleged part in a massive data breach at the National Revenue Agency (NRA) posed a serious public danger.
• (DF) Industrial Output Down in June M-M
August 8 (BTA) - In June, the Industrial Production Index, seasonally adjusted, decreased by 1.9 per cent compared with May 2019, according to preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute released on Thursday. In June, the working-day adjusted Industrial Production Index fell by 3.6 per cent year-on-year. Year-on-year, the seasonally adjusted Industrial Production Index decreased in the mining and quarrying industry (12.5 per cent), in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply (1.3 per cent) and in manufacturing (1.2 per cent). The most significant decrease was registered in the manufacture of tobacco products by 33.4 per cent, in the manufacture of leather and related products by 13.8 per cent, in the manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials by 9.8 per cent, and in the manufacture of paper and paper products by 8.1 per cent. On annual basis in June, the Industrial Production Index calculated from working day adjusted data declined in the mining and quarrying industry by 20 per cent, in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply by 4.6 per cent and in manufacturing by 1.7 per cent. In manufacturing, a more considerable decrease was registered in the manufacture of tobacco products by 47.1 per cent, in the manufacture of basic metals by 21 per cent, in the manufacture of wearing apparel by 11.8 per cent, in the manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials by 10.4 per cent. An increase was seen in printing and reproduction of recorded media by 15.2 per cent, in other manufacturing by 10.7 per cent, in the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products by 10.3 per cent. RY/PP //
• (DF) Prosecution to Probe Food Safety Agency amid ASF Outbreak
August 8 (BTA) - Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has ordered the specialized prosecution to carry out a check at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA) for possible malfeasance in office and conclusion of detrimental contracts in connection with animal waste disposal amid an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF). In the course of the inspection the BFSA management will be required to provide all documents related to a 2017 procurement tender for the disposal of animal waste. The prosecution will also probe contracts concluded by BFSA in 2018 in a direct contracting procedure for the disposal of animal waste in mobile incinerators as well as all annexes signed until now. The check will examine all payments effected by BFSA to the contracted companies and the activities for which they have been paid in order to establish the actual quantity of disposed animal waste and the amount of payments. In addition, the check will assess what control had been exercised by BFSA over the contractors and the disposed waste quantities for which pay was due as well as information about the capacity of the incinerators. Prosecutors will probe mobile incinerators of each of the contracted companies, will cross check disposed waste by date and location and will seek information about the state of the existing incinerator facilities and why they are not used to dispose of pig carcasses now. The prosecutors will examine all orders and instructions by BFSA in connection with the prescribed manner for disposing of pig carcasses in order to establish why dead pigs are buried and not burned or disposed of in a different manner and assess the possible health risks to the human population. The check will probe how mobile incinerators have been utilized during the current ASF outbreak as well as in earlier outbreaks of avian flu and ovine rinderpest and the payments effected by BFSA. The check has been prompted by a film, called 'War for Carcasses', by investigative journalist Genka Shikerova and the Anti-Corruption Fund which was scheduled to be broadcast on Nova TV but was banned from airing. RY/PP
• (DF) Deputy Prime Minister Donchev to Coordinate Local Elections Planning
August 7 (BTA) - The Council of Ministers adopted a decision on the planning and conduct of nationwide elections for municipal councillors and mayors on October 27, the government press service reported on Wednesday. Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev will be in charge of coordinating the planning of the elections. The Council of Ministers also assigned duties and responsibilities to other government ministers with regard to the local elections. Justice Minister Danail Kirilov will be in charge of issuing penal orders in case of Election Code violations committed by regional governors. IG/VE //
• (DF) Law Enforcers Halt Rights-Infringing Online Distribution of Trendy Films
August 7 (BTA) - A 44-year-old resident of Sofia was arrested on Tuesday after law enforcers of the Cybercrime Department of the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC) identified him as the creator and administrator of over 40 online pages on which he distributed trendy films without the requisite rights, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
• (DF) Sofia Authorities Bust State-of-the-art Cannabis Plantation
August 6 (BTA) - Sofia Regional Police busted a state-of-the-art marijuana plantation, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday. In the courtyard of the former Iskrets Labor Cooperative Agricultural Farms (TKZS), authorities discovered a massive greenhouse, equipped with air conditioning, ducts, heating lamps, a computer-controlled irrigation system and other state-of-the-art cannabis growing and drying equipment. The premises is owned by a 65-year-old Sofia resident and contained hundreds of potted cannabis plants at various stages of maturity, as well as a large amount of cannabis prepared for drying. Three men have been detained at the crime scene, two Sofianites, aged 25 and 31, and a 38-year-old man from Varna. RY/DT
• (DF) Maintenance of Newly Purchased Eight F-16 Jet Fighters Expected to be Done in Partnership between Bulgaria Air Force, Avionams Aircraft Repair Plant
August 6 (BTA) - The maintenance of the eight F-16 Block 70 jet fighters Bulgaria is to receive is expected to be done in partnership between the Bulgarian Air Force and the Avionams aircraft repair plant, Lockheed Martin International Business Development Senior Manager James Robinson said at a news conference here on Tuesday. At the news conference Lockheed Martin representatives and officials of the US Embassy in Sofia presented information and comments regarding the eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft Bulgaria is to receive under contracts on the purchase of the fighters and the provision of related equipment and technical support totalling 2.1 billion leva. The agreements were ratified by the Bulgarian Parliament on July 19. At Tuesday's news conference Robinson said that the maintenance is part of the package and will depend on where the Bulgarian air force chooses to put the aircraft. Robinson said that it is expected that the aircraft will go to the Graf Ignatievo air base and that the facility of Avionams there will be part of the maintenance. The maintenance on the aircraft will be done together between the Bulgarian air force and Avionams, he said. "There have been no capabilities cut at all. What you are getting is the most advanced fourth generation fighter jet in the world," the Lockheed Martin official said, approached by a reporter to comment what exactly is Bulgaria getting and how he will respond to criticism that some of the capabilities of the aircraft have been cut. Robinson said also that the next package of aircraft Bulgaria will buy would be significantly more advantageous and that this is not going to be a percentage. "When you buy the aircraft initially there things like support equipment, spare parts, weapons and training that go in the cost of the overall programme. The second aircraft will not have those additional costs of the programme," he said. RY/ZH //
• (DF) President Radev Vetoes Amendments to Military Intelligence Act
August 5 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev vetoed and returned for further consideration the law amending the Military Intelligence Act, his Press Secretariat said Monday. The head of State does not agree with the revisions that would allow for a civilian to head the Defence Information Service as an alternative to the former requirement that it be headed by a military officer. The President argues that the Defence Information Service is in charge of the entire intelligence community in the Armed Forces, plans intelligence activities in the various armed services and specifies the information that should be obtained in the interest of Bulgaria's defence. The Service's management should possess the necessary specific knowledge and professional experience in order to ensure the execution of its main tasks, which are related to obtaining not only intelligence but any information necessary for the defence of this country and the protection of national security from external encroachment, risks and threats, Radev argues. According to the President, the amendments create the risk of violating the principles of the centralized management and control of intelligence. In his motives, Radev notes that the possibility of the Defence Intelligence Service to be headed by a civilian might impair the principle of political neutrality. If the Service is headed by a military officer, his or her entire professional path is guided by the restriction to not be a member of any political parties, movements or coalitions. For a civilian head, however, such a restriction will be applied only after he or she is appointed, as the existing requirement does not specify that the Defence Intelligence Service head should have never been a member of any political parties in the past, but only during his or her term of office. This poses a serious risk of politicizing military intelligence. The law should clearly state the requirements for occupying the post, based on the principles that intelligence activities are founded on. If the deputy heads are civilians too, there might be no military officers in the entire management of the Service, the President notes. "This is contrary to the nature of the activities and the characteristics of the Defence Intelligence Service as an integral part of Bulgaria's Armed Forces," Radev says. RY/TH /TH/
• (DF) Former Head of Counter-corruption Commission Georgiev Reinstated in Specialized Prosecuting Magistracy
August 5 (BTA) - The prosecutors' college in the Supreme Judicial Council Monday reinstated in the specialized prosecuting magistracy former head of the of the Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission (CCUAAFC) Plamen Georgiev, who resigned from the post on July 31. Georgiev's reinstatement was supported unanimously by the eight participants in the extraordinary meeting of the prosecutors' college. The meeting, which was not attended by Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, lasted only five minutes.
• (DF) Conflict-of-Interest Claim against President Radev Dismissed
August 5 (BTA) - The Counter-corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission (CCUAAFC) has concluded that President Rumen Radev was not in a conflict-of-interest situation, as alleged by a claimant, and has terminated the proceedings against Radev. The conclusion has been published on the CCUAAFC website.
• (DF) No Information about Injured Bulgarians in Dayton Shooting
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said Sunday that no Bulgarians were injured in the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday. The Ministry said that the Bulgarian Consular Office in Chicago is in constant contact with the local authorities.
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov Condoles with US President Trump in Wake of El Paso Mass Shooting
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov cabled condolences to US President Donald Trump after the August 3 mass shooting in El Paso, the government's information service said on Sunday. In the cable Borissov says that Bulgaria condemns the senseless act of violence which took many innocent lives. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva too cabled condolences to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
• (DF) Interior Minister Marinov Pays Visit to Bavaria
August 4 (BTA) - Interior Minister Mladen Marinov is on a visit to Munich at the invitation of Minister of the Interior of the state of Bavaria Joachim Herrmann, the Interior Ministry said in a press release Sunday.
• (DF) Agriculture Minister Taneva Reiterates Cabinet Has Taken All Possible Measures against Spreading of African Swine Fever
August 4 (BTA) - Agriculture and Food Minister Dessislava Taneva wrote in a Facebook post that the Bulgarian government has taken all possible measures to contain the spreading of African Swine Fever (ASF). Taneva also rejected five proposed measures against ASF of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the main one of which is for the State to use part of the budget surplus to purchase at market prices backyard-raised pigs. Taneva says in her post that it does no justice to the BSP to try to win voters in such a hard crisis.
• (DF) Foreign Ministry Advises Bulgarians to Monitor Heathrow Airport Flight Cancellations due to Strike
August 3 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry advises Bulgarians to monitor online information about flights at London's Heathrow Airport in connection with the airport staff's strike declared on August 5 and 6, the Ministry reported Saturday.
• (DF) Socialists Propose Set of Measures to Address African Swine Fever Outbreaks
August 3 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) proposed a set of five measures to address the consequences of the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks across the country, BSP quoted its leader Kornelia Ninova in a press release on Saturday.
• (DF) PM Borissov Comments NRA Cyber Attack, New Prosecutor General's Election
August 3 (BTA) - Answering a journalist's question here late on Friday about the July 15 hacking of the databases of the National Revenue Agency (NRA), which compromised the personal data of millions of Bulgarians, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that someone wants to purposefully topple the government.
• (DF) Ivan Yonchev Appointed as National Electricity Company's New Executive Director
August 3 (BTA) - Ivan Yonchev has been appointed as the Executive Director of the National Electricity Company (NEK). The decision to change NEK's leadership was made during a meeting of the Bulgarian Energy Holding's (BEH) Board of Directors, BEH reported on its website.
• (NW) State E-Government Agency, Expatriates to Work for Fast Introduction of Remote E-Voting
Sofia, August 2 (BTA) - Experts of the State E-Government Agency (SEGA) and Bulgarians living abroad will work for the fast introduction of remote electronic voting, as agreed by SEGA head Alexander Temelkov and members of the Vote without Borders steering committee at a meeti...
• (DF) One in Three Bulgarians Cannot Afford One-week Annual Holiday - Eurostat
August 2 (BTA) - Around 30 per cent of Bulgarians, or almost one-third of the population, could not afford a one-week annual holiday away from home in 2018, Eurostat reported in a press release. According to Eurostat, the largest fall in the proportion unable to afford a one-week annual holiday away from home in the past five years was in Bulgaria. A total of 66 per cent of Bulgarians were reported as unable to afford the luxury of a holiday in 2014, but their share has dropped down to 30 per cent in 2018.
• (DF) Nearly 3,000 ?ids in Centres for Special Educational Support to Use New Learning Software Products, Modern Technologies
August 2 (BTA) - Nearly 3,000 children in centres for special educational support will be able to learn with new software products and modern technologies, purchased with financing from the national programme for the provision of modern educational environment, the Education and Science Ministry said in a press release.
• (DF) Insurance Company Alerts Institutions About Insurance Fraud Problems Since 2016
August 2 (BTA) - Since 2016, the Lev Ins insurance company has been alerting the competent institutions and bodies about problems with insurance fraud in Italy that led to the draining of national resources worth dozens of millions of euro. The information came from the company's management at a BTA-hosted news conference.
• (DF) Bulgaria's Only Indigenous Pig Breed Not Infected with African Swine Fever
August 2 (BTA) - African swine fever has not been diagnosed yet in the East Balkan pig, the only indigenous pig breed in Bulgaria, expert Radostina Radeva said in a BTA interview. She said the latest test samples from this kind of pigs were taken last week.
• (DF) Ministers of Regional Development, Healthcare Answer Biggest Number of MPs' Questions during Last Plenary Session of Parliament
August 1 (BTA) - Regional Development and Public Works Minister Petya Avramova and Healthcare Minister Kiril Ananiev were the two ministers who answered the greatest number of MPs' questions during the seventh plenary session of the incumbent Parliament which ended on Wednesday, the National Assembly said in a press release Thursday. Avramova answered 45 questions, and Ananiev, 34.
• (DF) Cost of Living per Month for 4-Member Household in Bulgaria is Lv 2,448
August 1 (BTA) - A four-person family (two adults and two children) can live comfortably on 2,448 leva per mont in Bulgaria, according to data for the end of the second quarter of the year from the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria's (CITUB) Institute for Social and Trade Union Research.
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov, North Macedonia Counterpart Zaev Discuss Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation Treaty in Skopje
August 1 (BTA) - Prime ministers Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria and Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia discussed in Skopje Thursday the benefits for their countries stemming from the implementation of the Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation Treaty, the Bulgarian Government's press service reported on Thursday. Borissov stressed Bulgaria's desire to develop close and friendly relations, corresponding to the two countries' common history and closeness between citizens. The Bulgarian Prime Minister noted that the results achieved in the past year on issues related to common history exceed many times over what had been achieved in the preceding 20-plus years.
• (DF) Prosecution Circulates Evidence in NRA Hacking Case to Media
August 1 (BTA) - In what is described as an unprecedented move, the Specialized Prosecutor's office Thursday published portions of evidence it has collected in a cyberterrorism investigation against the owner of TAD Group, Ivan Todorov, business director Georgi Yankov, and 20-year-old Christian Boykov, who were charged in connection with a July 15 hacking of the databases of the National Revenue Agency (NRA) that leaked the personal data of millions of Bulgarians.
• (DF) Property Check of Son of National Investigation Service Director Finds No Irregularities
August 1 (BTA) - A check into the property of the son of Deputy Prosecutor General and National Investigation Service Director Borislav Sarafov conducted by the National Revenue Agency established no irregularities, the prosecuting magistracy said in a press release.
• (DF) President Radev, Competent Authorities Discuss Measures for Managing African Swine Fever Crisis
July 31 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev and representatives of the institutions involved in the effects to contain an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Bulgaria, discussed the risks, financial and social consequences, as well as the measures taken so far.
• (DF) Counter-Corruption Commission Chief Georgiev Resigns
July 31 (BTA) - The Chair of the Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission (CCUAAFC), Plamen Georgiev, has tendered his resignation. The discussion of Georgiev's resignation was included in Parliament's agenda on Wednesday on the proposal of National Assembly Chairperson Tsveta Karayancheva.
• (DF) Special Prosecution Service Insists on TAD Group Owner's Detention Measure to Be Behind Closed Doors
July 31 (BTA) - The detention measure of Ivan Todorov, owner of TAD Group and accused of cyberterrorism, will be considered behind closed doors. The news came from Prosecutor Evgenia Stankova of the Anti-terrorism Department on Wednesday at a briefing in connection with the hacker attack of the National Revenue Agency's (NRA) database.
• (DF) Parliament Amends Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act, Socialists Say Revisions Seek to Resolve Impasse with Jet Repair in Belarus
July 31 (BTA) - The legislature adopted conclusively Wednesday revisions to the Act on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Control over Toxic Chemicals and their Precursors. The reasoning of the revisions' sponsors is that they complement effective regulations concerning the export, import and transfer of chemical substances and their precursors.
• (DF) Socialist Party Moves for Lifting Russia Sanctions
"It is obvious that the sanctions have had a very bad economic effect, for Bulgaria and across Europe, and at the same time they have proven ineffective. What we ask Parliament is to take a stance against the sanctions on Russia and mandate its chairperson to announce this...
• (DF) President Radev Approaches Constitutional Court over Legal Provisions Allowing Donations to Parties by Legal Entities
July 31 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev has approached the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of legal amendments to the Political Parties Act allowing donations to political parties by legal entities, Radev's press secretariat said.
• (DF) On-Site Pig Farm Inspections Suspended as Measure against African Swine Fever Outbreak
July 30 (BTA) - The State Fund Agriculture (SFA) is suspending on-site pig farm inspections throughout the country by order of SFA Paying Agency Executive Director Vasil Grudev. This is part of the State's crisis response efforts against the spread of African Swine Fever (AFS), the SFA said on Tuesday.
• (DF) Parliament Leader of Cyprus Pays Official Visit in Sofia
July 30 (BTA) - Paying an official visit to Bulgaria on Tuesday at the head of a parliamentary delegation, the President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus, Demetris Syllouris, met with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and National Assembly Chair Tsveta Karayancheva. Bilateral relations dominated the talks, as well as ways to further enhance cooperation.
• (DF) F-16 Deal Ratification Act, National Budget Update Published in Official Gazette
July 30 (BTA) - The act to ratify the deal for acquisition of F-16 and a relevant update of the national budget are published in the latest issue of the State Gazette which was put out Tuesday. The gazetting of the acts is newsworthy because of the objections of President Rumen Radev to the F-16 deal and speculations that he might veto the national budget update.
• (DF) Cyber Security Company Owner Arrested for Recent Personal Data Breach
July 30 (BTA) - The owner of a cyber security company was arrested Tuesday morning for a recent personal data breach in the National Revenue Agency (NRA), sources of the prosecution office told BTA. He was remanded at Sofia Airport as he arrived from Istanbul.
• (DF) Cyber Security Company Owner Arrested for Recent Personal Data Breach
July 30 (BTA) - The owner of a cyber security company was arrested Tuesday morning for a recent personal data breach in the National Revenue Agency (NRA), sources of the prosecution office told BTA. He was remanded at Sofia Airport as he arrived from Istanbul. Todorov is the third person to be arrested in the case. The other two are the trade director and a 20-year-old employee in his TAD Group. The employee, Kristian Boikov, was charged with a crime against the Republic aimed to cause confusion and fear in the public through a computer offence. He faces between five and 15 years in prison upon conviction. Todorov and his commercial director, Georgi Yankov, were charged with inciting a computer offence. The three men deny having anything to do with the crime. The data breach has affected millions of Bulgarians but the authorities said that just under 200 are under a serious risk of fraud due to the nature of the personal data that has leaked. Last week NRA started a service which enables people to check whether they have been affected. The information that is provided, however, has no details about the nature and scope of the leaked data. LN/
• (DF) Businesses Expect Subsidy Cut to Make Political Parties More Efficient
July 29 (BTA) - A public opinion poll conducted on the eve of a July 4 slashing of party subsidies in Bulgaria shows that 75 per cent of the member companies of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) believed that if state subsidies for political parties were abolished or were reduced from 11 leva to 1 lev per valid vote won at the latest parliamentary elections, the parties would streamline their organizational structure and would become more efficient.
• (DF) President Radev: Transport Connectivity Between China, Europe Is Most Important Factor for Developing Joint Initiatives
July 29 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev Monday said that Bulgaria actively supports the One Belt, One Road initiative and the 17+1 platform for cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries. Transport connectivity between China and Europe is the most important factor for these two initiatives' development, he added. Radev was addressing representatives of Chinese companies participating in the implementation of projects within the One Road, One Belt initiative.
• (DF) Ivan Geshev Remains Only Candidate for New Prosecutor General
July 29 (BTA) - At Monday's plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), Justice Minister Danail Kirilov did not nominate a candidate for new prosecutor general. This was the last JSC meeting where the Justice Minister could make a nomination. This leaves Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev the only candidate for the position.
• (DF) 20-km Sanitary Zone Determined for All Industrial Pig-breeding Farms
July 29 (BTA) - Twenty-kilometre sanitary zones are determined for all industrial pig-breeding farms in Bulgaria, Agriculture, Food and Forestry Minister Dessislava Taneva said on Monday, emerging from a meeting of the Central Epizootic Council with the government in the wake of more hotspots of African Swine Fever (ASF).
• (DF) 20-km Sanitary Zone Determined for All Industrial Pig-breeding Farms
July 29 (BTA) - Twenty-kilometre sanitary zones are determined for all industrial pig-breeding farms in Bulgaria, Agriculture, Food and Forestry Minister Dessislava Taneva said on Monday, emerging from a meeting of the Central Epizootic Council with the government in the wake of more hotspots of African Swine Fever (ASF). There are 65 registered industrial pig-breeding farms in Bulgaria. ASF hotspots have been established in three of them. No back-yard pig breeding will be allowed in the 20-km sanitary zones, Taneva said. Slaughter houses are to carry out their work in the presence of a veterinary and the military police. The measure is introduced so as not to allow slaughtering of back-yard-grown pigs from facilities without the proper level of biological security. There are 110 registered slaughter houses in Bulgaria, 67 of which for slaughtering of pigs. The measures decided at Monday's meeting become effective immediately. Taneva recalled that a decision was made on Friday requiring that all relevant persons determine sites for burying of carcasses of culled pigs. These will be checked, she said. Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev assured that the State has put in place all necessary measures to contain the spread of the disease. Donchev urged people to assist the authorities. LY/ZH
• (DF) Business Climate Improves in Services Sector, Stays Unchanged in Retail Trade, Worsens in Industry and Construction
July 29 (BTA) - In July 2019, the total business climate indicator remains more or less unchanged from the previous month, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said Monday. It shows some decline in industry and construction, remains at the June level in retail trade and increases in the services sector. In industry, the composite Business Climate indicator decreased by 1.7 percentage points as a result of slightly worsened assessment and expectations of entrepreneurs about the business situation of their companies. The NSI inquiry registers more unfavourable forecasts about export and production over the next three months. The average capacity utilization from April to July increases by 1.2 percentage points and reaches 76.9 per cent, and the expectations for the coming months are for a surplus of capacity. The shortage of labour and uncertain economic environment continue to be the main obstacles for business growth in industry. As regards selling prices in industry, certain expectations for an increase are reported, although the majority of managers do not expect a change over the next three months. In construction, the composite Business Climate indicator in July decreases by 0.8 percentage points due to a shift of business people's assessment about the present business situation from "good" to "satisfactory". As regards the construction activity over the past three months, the NSI inquiry registered some decrease from June and the expectations for the next three months remain reserved. Shortage of labour, uncertain economic environment and competition in the sector are seen as the biggest hurdles to business in the sector. As regards the selling prices in construction, managers expect some increase over the next three months. In retail trade, the composite Business Climate indicator preserves its level from the previous month. Retailers' expectations about business in the next six months are positive. Their forecasts about the volume of sales and orders placed with suppliers over the next three months remain favourable, though more reserved in comparison with June. Competition, low demand and uncertain economic environment continue to be the most serious obstacles for business growth. Last month saw a strengthening of the negative impact of labour shortage. Concerning selling prices, managers' expectations are that they will remain unchanged over the next three months. In the service sector, the composite Business Climate in July increases by 1.7 percentage points. That was mainly due to managers' positive assessments of the present business situation. They are seeing an improvement in demand for services but their expectations for the next three months are less favourable. The main hurdles to growth in business remain competition, uncertain economic environment and labour shortage. The managers expect some increase of selling prices in the services sector but the majority of them see no major change coming in the next three months. LN/
• (DF) Bulgaria Begins Construction of New Research Labon Antarctica
July 29 (BTA) - This year, Bulgaria begins the construction of a new modern research laboratory at the Bulgarian base on Antarctica, Prof. Hristo Pimpirev, head of the National Centre for Polar Studies, told journalists here on Monday. The architectural design competition has already ended, he added.
• (DF) Dobrich Agricultural Fair to Highlight EU Funding Opportunities
July 28 (BTA) - An international farming exhibition called Agriculture and Everything for It, opening in Dobrich on July 30, will highlight EU funding opportunities for projects in the sector, the Regional Information Centre (RIC) said on Sunday. In a special reception office and in a mobile booth, RIC experts will provide information about the Rural Development Programme and the EU-backed Operational Programmes, and will take questions from visitors.
• (DF) Association of Bulgarian Schools Abroad Holds Annual Conference in Plovdiv
July 27 (BTA) - The Association of Bulgarian Schools Abroad held its annual conference in Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria) on Saturday. Addressing the participants in the forum, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov thanked Bulgarian teachers abroad for their patriotism and efforts, the Government Information Service reported. Vice President Iliana Iotova and Education and Science Minister Krassimir Vulchev also addressed the conference.
• (DF) Socialist Leader Ninova: "Our Political Opponent Is GERB, But Our Enemy Is Fear"
July 27 (BTA) - Addressing 40,000 supporters and members of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) during the party's annual gathering at Bouzloudja Peak, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova Saturday expressed the hope that the party will begin energized its new battle for the local elections. In her words, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is in power not because he can and not because the people wants him and likes him, but because of fear and apathy. "Today, our political opponent is GERB but our enemy is fear and our task is to go to every poor, weak, underprivileged and humiliated person, to offer them a hand, to give them hope and strength, and to show them that our fate depends on each one of us," she said.
• (DF) Minister Marinov Pays First Visit of Bulgarian Interior Minister to Montenegro Since 2006
July 26 (BTA) - During a working visit to Montenegro on Friday, Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov expressed his country's support for the European integration of Montenegro and readiness to cooperate in all matters of mutual interest. This is the first visit of a Bulgarian interior minister to Montenegro since 2006, Marinov's Ministry said in a press release.
• (NW) Bulgarian Organizations Invited to Participate in Common EU Consultation on Investment in Digital Economy
Sofia, July 26 (BTA) - The Transport, IT and Communications Ministry calls on Bulgarian organizations and citizens to participate in the European Commission's public consultation on the Digital Europe programme in the 2021-2027 period, the Ministry said in a press release ...
• (NW) Bulgarian Organizations Invited to Participate in Common EU Consultation on Investment in Digital Economy
July 26 (BTA) - The Transport, IT and Communications Ministry calls on Bulgarian organizations and citizens to participate in the European Commission's public consultation on the Digital Europe programme in the 2021-2027 period, the Ministry said in a press release Friday.
• (DF) Bulgarian MEP Ivo Hristov and Romanian Colleague Ask from EU Additional EUR 70 Mln to Fight African Swine Fever
July 26 (BTA) - MEPs Ivo Hristov (Bulgaria) and Carmen Avram (Romania), who are also members of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, have asked that an additional 70 million euro be included in next year's EU budget to fight African Swine Fever (ASF), Hristov's office reported Friday.
• (DF) Socialists Urge Government to Waive Fee on ID Card Replacement after Data Breach
July 26 (BTA) - The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party demanded that the government waived fees for the replacement of ID cards of those who wish to do so in the wake of a massive personal data breach on July 15. The BSP for Bulgaria will submit a draft resolution in Parliament to this end, BSP for Bulgaria floor leader Kornelia Ninova told journalists in Parliament on Friday.
• (DF) Parliament Overrides Presidential Veto of F-16 Deal
July 26 (BTA) - Bulgaria's National Assembly on Friday overrode a presidential veto and approved without changes a bill ratifying 2.1 billion leva worth of agreements with the United States on the purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force and the provision of related equipment and technical support
• (DF) Coalition Government of GERB and United Patriots Will Carry On - Senior MP
July 26 (BTA) - The coalition government of GERB and the United Patriots will continue to exist without any changes to the governance formula, United Patriots co-floor leader Iskren Vesselinov told journalists in Parliament on Friday. He spoke after Thursday's expulsion of three MPs from Ataka, a member party of the power-sharing United Patriots coalition.
• (DF) Ataka Party Expelled from United Patriots Coalition
July 25 (BTA) - The Ataka party was expelled from the United Patriots power-sharing coalition on Thursday. The decision was made by the other two members of the three-party coalition: the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) and VMRO. The news comes after a United Patriots Coalition Council meeting fell through on Wednesday and after internal contradictions and tensions plagued the coalition for many months.
• (DF) Judicial Council Has No New Prosecutor General Nominee at Last but One Meeting
July 25 (BTA) - The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) did not name a second candidate for prosecutor general at its last but one meeting on Thursday. Justice Minister Danail Kirilov can still nominate a candidate at the last meeting on July 29. However, he stated earlier this year that he would not participate in the nomination procedure unless it was flawed.
• (DF) Junior Coalition Partners from United Patriots May Sign Separate Agreements with GERB
July 25 (BTA) - VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov did not rule out a possibility for parties in the power sharing United Patriots coalition to sign separate agreements with GERB for support of the government. He spoke to journalists after a meeting of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Council of Ministers on Thursday. Karakachanov said that each of the parties may sign an agreement with GERB based on the general agreement and continue to support the government.
• (DF) Three Charged with Revenue Agency Hack
July 25 (BTA) - The Specialized Prosecution Office Thursday charged three men with hacking the National Revenue Agency (NRA) in mid-July, which compromised data of about 4 million Bulgarians. Kristian Boikov was charged with a crime against the Republic aimed to cause confusion and fear in the public through a computer offence. He faces between five and 15 years in prison on conviction.
• (DF) Defence Committee Proposes to Parliament to Override President's Veto of F-16 Deal
July 24 (BTA) - After a debate on Wednesday, which lasted more than an hour and a half, the Defence Committee in the National Assembly proposed to the full legislature to overthrow a presidential veto and approve again the law ratifying the Bulgaria-US agreements on the purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force and the provision of related equipment and technical support. The decision was adopted by 13 votes in favour and 7 against, at an extraordinary meeting of the Defence Committee which considered President Rumen Radev's veto. Also on Wednesday, President Radev made a special statement for the media upon his return from a visit to Croatia, to elaborate on his arguments for Tuesday's veto of the ratification of the F-16 deal. He urged the National Assembly to hold another debate to see whether Bulgaria's national interests have really been defended, given that the price of the deal is 2.2 billion leva pre-VAT and should be paid in a lump sum. Radev, who is former Air Force commander, argued that the armament, equipment, training and services which ought to go into the F-16 package for Bulgaria have been scaled down, which means reduced capabilities of the aircraft. There are also hidden or unspecified expenses which Bulgaria will have to incur eventually for infrastructure, transport, armament, equipment, services, taxes and fees. Moreover, the US contractor will be able to change unilaterally some clauses of the agreements concerning prices, deadlines and volumes of supplies and services. These hidden and unclear expenses will inflict considerable financial obligations on the Bulgarian governments for decades to come, Radev warned. The uncertainties about the F-16 deal will create unsteadiness in the modernization of the Bulgarian Air Force and will jeopardize the upgrading of the Ground Force and the Navy, Radev warned. On Tuesday, when the veto was unveiled, Radev said in his reasoning that it is extremely concerning that such a costly deal was pushed through without national consensus and the two parliamentary readings of the ratification bill were rushed in a single sitting of the National Assembly. Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, who took part in Wednesday's meeting of the Defence Committee, told journalists he disagrees with the President that the deal needs further debate. He added, however, that he appreciates the President's opinion because he is a good pilot and was at the helm of the Air Force before becoming head of state. If the ratification was postponed even by a month, the deadlines of the US offers would expire and the whole process would have to start all over again, the Defence Minister said. Asked whether he expects the President to veto the recent state budget revision (which was aimed to accommodate the costs of the F-16 deal), or the industrial cooperation provisions, Karakachanov said this is possible, but if it happens, the process will be delayed and the deadlines may not be met. Eventually, Bulgaria may have to agree to "other prices," he warned. Karakachanov finds that the controversy has been politicized. LY/LN/VE
• (DF) Marketing Director and Employee of Cyber-security Firm Are Charged with Terrorism over Revenue Agency Data Leak
July 24 (BTA) – Kristiyan Boykov, an employee at cyber security firm TAD Group, who was the first suspect in a major personal data breach at the National Revenue Agency (NRA) has been charged with terrorism along with his trade director, Georgi Yankov. The information was confirmed by BTA by their lawyer Georgi Stefanov on Wednesday. The NRA breach for which Boykov and Yankov are charged, has affected millions of Bulgarians. The suspects deny any involvement. Boykov was arrested several days after the leak last week and was released the next day on his own recognizance after NRA said that the system he allegedly hacked was not considered critical infrastructure. Yankov was summoned for questioning by the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC) late on Tuesday. The Interior Ministry said that a search in the company's offices lasted for more than six hours. The officers searched through and compiled inventories of documents and computer equipment, which will be used as evidence to the lawsuit over the leaked NRA databases. Earlier on Tuesday, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov said that investigators have obtained enough evidence that Boykov carried out the hacking attack, as well as data about the instigator. IG/TH/LN



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