Bulgarian politics: what change comes after the government of “change”?

Graf Ignatiev street in Sofia (source: Pixabay, CC0)

A review of the Petkov government actions and a few suggestions for a more complex understanding of Bulgarian political life

Vladimir Mitev

The political crisis that led to the fall of Kiril Petkov’s government provoked a lot of protests and counterprotests. Bulgaria’s partners are beginning to worry that political instability has returned to Bulgarian society. There are fears of a possible rise of pro-Russian tendencies. And Western partners are worried that the steps undertaken by the Petkov government to promote “change” – e.g. reduced access by the oligarchy to state money – would be reversed.

These fears could still be justified but I would prefer to look at the Bulgarian political evolution not as a zero sum game, where the pendulum moves either to the US or to Russia. I rather see here the superstructure of a society undergoing a transformation from the longstanding regime of “stabilocracy” under prime minister Boyko Borissov which ended last year with its decapitation. In my view, Bulgarians are interesting and deserve engagement not only when they are ruled by a John Travolta-looking prime minister. The battle for modernization and “change” of the country will continue no matter what the governing formula is. And perhaps, a correct understanding of Bulgarian society, contradictions and essence, could help the very process of change. 

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The Bulgarian government of “change” fell amidst contradictory interests

Protests and counterprotests mark the political crisis, related to the fall of Petkov government (source: YouTube)

Geopolitics could be one reason among more for the fall of Kiril Petkov’s team

Vladimir Mitev

Bulgarian government fell on 22 June 2022 after no-confidence motion. The fall of Kirill Petkov government was accompanied by massive protests in support of what it had done or attempted: hitting some of the oligarchic vested interests in the energy, customs, transport and construction sectors.

Delyan Peevski, a big businessman and MP from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, an opposition party voted in by ethnic Turks, said immediately after the fall of the government that this would be the first step in the big fight against oligarchy. The conflict between Peevski and businessman Ivo Prokopiev is well known, a conflict that has led to anti-oligarchic protests before. Today Peevski’s colleagues were constantly talking about how the Petkov government is supported by Prokopiev.

Today’s events have also passed in the shadow of the so-called “French proposal/French europresidency’s proposal” to resolve the dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. The proposal stipulates that Bulgaria should allow negotiations for EU accession with Macedonia to begin, and that Bulgarian demands related broadly to neutralising the ideology of Macedonism should be part of the negotiating framework, with the EU and Bulgaria guaranteeing their fulfilment over time.

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A podcast on Bulgarian-Romanian economic and intercultural issues is getting launched

(source: Wikipedia)

Vladimir Mitev and Doru Dragomir presented their joint initiative in a video

The Bridge of Friendship blog and the Bilateral Chamber of Commerce Bulgaria-Romania are initiating a series of video talks about important economic and intercultural issues related to the Bulgarian-Romanian space. In episode zero of this talk the blog’s editor Vladimir Mitev and the chamber’s president Doru Dragomir presented their joint initiative.

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What should Bulgarian drivers pay attention to on Romanian roads?

A Romanian villa

Interview with a Bulgarian language translator and tutor for Bulgarian drivers in road accidents in Romania

Vladimir Mitev

The Bridge of Friendship blog continues its series of articles about the problems Bulgarian drivers face on Romanian roads and offers some possible information about things drivers can pay attention to in order to avoid damage. This article is an interview with Romanian translator of Bulgarian origin Ivan Vasilchin, who has more knowledge from his practice as a tutor and translator for Bulgarians who have cases to deal with in Romania. 

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New Bulgarian Documentary

A snapshot from the movie “Whose is this song?” by Adela Peeva (source: YouTube)

A study in history and in the works of film criticism of a remarkable cultural phenomenon

Marian Țuțui

This article is part of the book “Studies in Romanian and Balkan Cinema” by the Romanian film critic Marian Țuțui. He works at the Art Institute of the Romanian Academy and is currently preparing a history of Romanian cinema. Țuțui is a well-known name in the film circles of Bulgaria and Macedonia. Among other things, he has a degree in Bulgarian and Romanian from the University of Bucharest.

The first cinematographic projection in Bulgaria took place on 8th of December 1896 (Karjilov 2007) while the first fiction film, Balgaran e galant (The Bulgarian Is Gallant) was made in 1915 by Vassil Gendov, a prolific director who studied acting in Vienna. The first sound film, Buntat na robite (The Slaves’ Revolt, 1933) is also due to Gendov, while the first animation film, Pakosnitsi. Mukhata (Pests: The Fly) by Zahari Zahariev and Vasil Bakardjiev was made in 1937. 

Bulgarian cinema has had sporadic success abroad. Its first major award was an early one (1946) in Venice for an ethnographic documentary, Svatba na selo (Village Wedding, Stoyan Hristov) about Sovoliano wedding customs, in South-Western Bulgaria. It was followed by awards for fiction films in Venice: Neposkoen pat (Troubled Road, a Man Decides, Ivan Bratanov, 1955) and a Silver Lion for Ritzar bez bronya (Knight without Armor, Borislav Sharailiev, 1966), as well as a Silver Bear in Berlin for Avantazh (Advantage, Georgi Djulgerov, 1978). (Tutui 2011, 314-15) The most recent success, albeit almost 30 years ago, was for an animation film, Zhenitba (The Wedding, Rumen Petkov and Slav Bakalov), which received a Golden Palm in Cannes in 1985 for the best short-length film. 

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On 7 May 2022 starts the seventh consecutive Ruse Summer Free Tour season

A press release by the Ruse Summer Free Tour

On May 7, 2022, for the seventh consecutive year, the free walking tours in Ruse, known as the Ruse Summer Free Tour, will start. They are intended at both Bulgarian and foreign visitors and residents of Ruse, and their route covers the most iconic buildings and places in the central parts of the city.

In 2022 the tours will be held every Saturday from May to September inclusive. They will start at 6PM from the Statue of Liberty, where professionals and enthusiasts from the tourism industry in the region will share their knowledge about the history and urban legends of the places that visitors will go by during the tours.

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Civil society vs. Government in the Eastern Balkans: Who can build a better hospital?

A screenshot from a commercial for the Romanian hospital built with donations (source: YouTube)

Over the last 30 years, children with rare diseases in Bulgaria and Romania have been waiting for a modern children’s hospital that could properly meet their needs. However, an insufficient healthcare system and political discourse have prevented this from happening

Vyara Yoncheva

Vyara Yoncheva is currently studying in Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”.  Her research interests are focused on the culture and geopolitics of the Balkans, Caucasus region, the Middle East and their historical intertwining.

This article was published on 24 January 2022 at the Greek site Balkans In Site.

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Marian Țuțui: Bulgarian and Romanian film directors do not interact enough with each other

Marian Țuțui (source: Marian Țuțui)

Interview with an important Romanian film critic about the strengths and weaknesses of the Romanian New Wave and Romanian documentary cinema, Bulgarian documentaries, Bulgarian-Romanian co-productions, the history of Romanian cinema, the financial aspects of the Romanian film industry and the closeness between Bulgarian and Romanian realities

Vladimir Mitev

Marian Țuțui is a Romanian film critic and researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Romanian Academy. He is currently working on a book about the history of Romanian cinema. In January 2022, he presented his latest book on Balkan cinema in Romanian. Among other things, Marian Țuțui holds a degree in Bulgarian language and Romanian language from the University of Bucharest.

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