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The Russian State Telecom Rostelecom is planning to launch a Russian mobile application, more or less analogous to Skype and Viber, reports ITAR-TASS.

According to the public tender announcement, quoted by the wire service, the company has set aside RUB 72.8 M.

The application, available both for iOS and Android devices, must be ready by beginning of October 2015.

Its initial capacity is set at 350 000 clients.

Polish ex-Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has responded to an article in a US magazine where he allegedly says Russia offered Poland to annex five Ukrainian provinces.

Sikorski wrote on Twitter some of his comments had been exaggerated, though he did not specify which ones.

He added the Politico magazine was not authorized to publish these comments, since he had not seen the text before it was published and had not given is consent for specific quotations.

"I confirm that Poland will not participate in an annexation," he further added.

Oscar de la Renta, one of the most sought-after fashion designers of the last half century, died on Monday at the age of 82.

The New York Times said de la Renta died of complications from cancer.

De la Renta was born to a prominent family in the Dominican Republic and went to Spain to study art, but was drawn to fashion and started working alongside Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga.

He made his name in the 1960s dressing one of the major fashion icons of the day, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and established his company in New York in 1965.

De la Renta was known as one of the industry's classic creators, famous for elegantly feminine designs marked by flattering silhouettes with full skirts and cinched waists, often rendered in soft hues and floral patterns.

Most recently, de la Renta made the wedding dress for human rights lawyer Amal Amaluddin for her marriage in Venice, Italy, last month to Hollywood actor and director George Clooney.

Beyond its signature ready-to-wear women's collection, the company grew into a major luxury goods purveyor with lines of shoes, handbags, jewelry, home decor and fragrance.

De la Renta is survived by his wife, Annette.

Alamuddin at a final fitting, with Oscar de la Renta (right) and head tailor Raffaele Ilardo, in the designer’s New York studio. Oscar de la Renta ivory beaded-tulle dress with Chantilly-lace appliqué. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, October 2014

Alamuddin at a final fitting, with Oscar de la Renta (right) and head tailor Raffaele Ilardo, in the designer’s New York studio. Oscar de la Renta ivory beaded-tulle dress with Chantilly-lace appliqué. 

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, October 2014

European Banking Authority said Monday Bulgaria should allow immediate access of depositors at Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank, KTB) to their savings.

Both the Bulgarian central bank BNB and the Deposits Insurance Fund (DIF) are breaching Article 1(3)(i) and Article 10 of Directive 94/19/EC, the deposit-guarantee law of the European Union, the banking watchdog warned in a statement.

Bulgaria should either completely remove restrictions and ensure depositors' access to their money in both KTB and its daughter Commercial Bank Victoria (formerly Credit Agricole Bulgaria) or should launch the mechanism to make transfers from the DIF, the banking authority (EBA) has demanded in a formal recommendation.

Parliamentary approval would be needed for the latter option, and the first session of Bulgaria's National Assembly is to be held October 27, or next Monday.

The EBA reportedly demanded from the BNB that it ensure depositors' access to their money in both KTB and its daughter Victoria (formerly Credit Agricole Bulgaria).

Under current legislation in the bloc, or namely the Deposits Guarantee Schemes (DGS) Directive, depositors are to be compensated for up to EUR 100 000 of their assets within 25 business days after access to their accounts has been blocked.

Infringement proceedings were started by the EU Commission against Bulgaria on suspicions of breaching EU law on September 25. A press statement from the EBA issued on the same day revealed the authority was also carrying out an investigation.

Corpbank, Bulgaria's fourth-largest lender, was placed under BNB's special supervision in mid-June after its liquidity was depleted by a run and it had to freeze all operations.

For weeks angry depositors have held protests in front of either KTB or BNB, demanding access to their accounts.

Some 0.2-0.5 million people are affected by the crisis at Corpbank.

Calls from the European Banking Authority came briefly after a long-expected audit report was submitted at the BNB of conservators at KTB and Victoria.

The document was prepared by AFA, Deloitte Audit and Ernst&Young.

Interim Finance Minister Rumen Porozhanov announced earlier in October payment guaranteed deposits would begin in November after a final decision is taken on its future.




Sofia City Court is to hold a sitting Tuesday on the extradition of businessman and activist Nikolai Kobliakov to Russia.

The final ruling was adjourned in September after the court decided to require information from Russian authorities as to which version of the Russian Criminal Code was used to indict Kobliakov.

According to the Russian prosecution, Kobliakov, a Russian-French citizen, was involved in a fraud for EUR 1.2 M. Human rights organizations, however, claim he is being prosecuted for political reasons.

The extradition request is based on an article from the 1996 Criminal Code, while the indictment contains an excerpt from legislation dating March 07, 2011, Bulgarian magistrates say.

It is therefore "impossible" to tell which was the law in force at the time when Kobliakov was indicted, the website Dnevnik.bg quotes judge Desislav Lyubomirov as saying.

Moscow is also to answer whether it has granted amnesty for the alleged wrongdoing the defendant is accused of.

Koblyakov has been in Bulgaria since early in August, when authorities detained him as he was entering the country at the Sofia Airport.

He remained in custody for 72 hours and was first imposed house arrest in September, but was released on a recognizance order

Kobliakov, who portrays himself as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, earlier also sought asylum in Bulgaria.

At least five people are dead after a private jet crashed at Moscow's Vnukovo airport also claiming the life of French oil company Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie.

The plane collided with a snow-clearing machine as it was taking off, leaving the driver, three crew members and a passenger, who was De Margerie, dead, the BBC quotes the airport's spokesperson Elena Krylova as saying.

Investigators suggest the driver of the snow plough was drunk.

Total has confirmed the death of its chief executive in a statement.

De Margerie's private plane was to fly to Paris just minutes before midnight (23:57) Moscow time on Monday.

A joint investigation is to be carried out by the Interstate Aviation Committee and Russia's Rosaviatsiya.

Christophe de Margerie, who had assumed the top office at Total since 2007, had spent four decades working for Total Group.

Total is Europe's third-largest oil company, operating in 50 countries.

Russia has sought to involve Poland in the partition of Ukraine, former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told a US media outlet.

"This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, [soon to be President of the European Council] when he visited Moscow. He went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don’t we just sort it out together," Politico magazine quotes him as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has however dismissed claims of Sikorski as "sheer red herring".

Warsaw was allegedly offered five provinces of Western Ukraine, but refused. “We made it very, very clear to them– we wanted nothing to do with this,” says Sikorski.

Russia had also run "calculations on what provinces would be profitable to grab," Sikorski claims, explaining Poland had eyed Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa regions.

A potential seizure of the Crimean peninsula was viewed at that time as "a way of blackmailing [ousted President] Viktor Yanukovych," and Putin used it to prevent the Association Agreement with Europe from being signed, he also argues.

Poland's former top diplomat further outlines potential land grabs by Russia in what Moscow describes as "Novorossiya", adding it might face tough challenge from the Ukrainian people.

Sikorski was on the spearhead of the EU's initial response to the Ukraine crisis when violence reached its peak in February 2014.

The European Commission needs a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to disaster and emergency response, MEP Iliana Iotova has said.

"Damage of [this year's] floods in Bulgaria is estimated at over EUR 300 M. People from Mizia, from the Black Sea region, from Central Bulgaria are still waiting for the money the EU Commission is to grant them. Out of these EUR 300 M we are to have only 10 M and they will only come through the Solidarity Fund," the Bulgarian National Radio quotes Iotova as saying in Brussels.

Administrative procedures preventing the timely allocation of aid to those affected should also be reviewed, Iotova has added, reminding even the EUR 10 M that will not reach Bulgarians before mid-2015.

She believes that, given the insufficiency of the EU's Solidarity Fund, other tools should also be used.

This year Bulgaria and Southeast Europe as a whole were hit by deadly floods that took tens of lives and left hundreds of buildings damaged or completely destroyed.


As Bulgaria braces for the first snowfall scheduled for Friday, the Road Infrastructure Agency warns about the shortage of funds for seasonal road maintenance.

Lazar Lazarov, Chair of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA), explained Monday that the winter road maintenance regime would be introduced after November 1, provided that the weather conditions required the measure.

He specified that roads in high places would be the first to switch to winter maintenance.

Lazarov, as cited by the Focus news agency, called on drivers to prepare their cars for the winter by fitting winter tyres and pouring non-freezing windshield washer fluid in the reservoirs.

Lazarov said that around 40% of Bulgaria’s road network was in poor condition and the situation was expected to deteriorate during the winter season.

He explained that the cracks and small openings were bound to grow much bigger once they were filled up with water which turned into ice, especially taking into account the impact of the passage of heavy vehicles.

Lazarov underscored that it was necessary to invest around BGN 15 M into the preparation of roads for the winter season because fixing the potholes in spring would cost three times as much, or some BGN 30-40 M.

He also cautioned that the winter resort of Bansko could be sealed off from the rest of the country in winter as a supporting wall, which had been damaged by the heavy rain, was about to collapse.

Lazarov pointed out that the impossibility to use the Bansko-Razlog-Predela-Simitli road was bound to upset tourists who would find it very difficult to reach the popular ski resort of Bansko.

He assured that everything possible was being done to enhance the wall, adding that the authorities were drafting a project.

Lazarov specified that the repair works at the damaged supporting wall would cost some BGN 200 00 to BGN 600 000.

He also announced that the heavy rains had caused damage worth around BGN 60 M to roads in Bulgaria.

Lazarov also emphasized that the budget of the RIA had dropped 6 times over the past 10 years to a rate of BGN 169 M for 2015.

Russia will impose a temporary ban on imports of animal fat and meat byproduct from the European Union.

According to a media statement of Russia’s veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor, the ban takes effect on October 21.

The measure is explained with the presence of harmful substances detected in such products, according to ITAR-TASS.

On August 7, Russia introduced a ban on the import of food products from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway.

The ban on imports of meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables was introduced in response to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

The conservators at Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank, KTB) have submitted to the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) the audit report of the financial institution.

KTB was placed under conservatorship by the Bulgarian National Bank on June 20 due to a bank run.

The audit reports on the condition of KTB were prepared by AFA OOD, Deloitte Audit OOD, Ernst & Young OOD, according to a media statement of BNB.

BNB also informs that it has received no offer from a consortium interested in stabilizing KTB.

Bulgaria’s Finance Ministry reopened the 10.5 year issue of Government Securities (GS) issued on 15 January 2014 with maturity 15 July 2024.

The issue is a reference one in terms of the harmonized long-term interest rate as regards the assessment of the convergence level which is part of the Maastricht criteria in 2014, according to a media statement of the Finance Ministry.

At the auction held on October 20, 2014 securities to the amount of BGN 55 million were placed and the annual weighted average yield achieved is 3.50%.

The total amount subscribed reached BGN 78.40 million which corresponds to a coverage coefficient of 1.43.

 The biggest amount of GS at the auction was acquired by banks - 61.91%, followed by pension funds - 23.64%, insurance companies - 12.00% and guarantee funds - 2.45%.

Nikolay Rusinov has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 28-year-old Yana Krasteva in Sofia in 2011.

The sentence was issued by the Sofia City Court on Monday.

The prosecuting authority had demanded a penalty of life imprisonment due to the brutality of the murder, according to reports of the BGNES news agency.

The body of 28-year-old Yana Krasteva was found in the central Borisova Gradina park in downtown Sofia on July 10 2011.

She had been bludgeoned and strangled to death after a rock concert at the Bulgarian Army Stadium on the previous night.

The trial against Rusinov started on January 31, 2013.

He has been in custody since his arrest in end-April 2012.

According to the prosecuting authority, Rusinov killed the woman intentionally with the help of unknown accomplices.

Asen Angelov, Executive Director of Bulgaria’s Employment Agency, has underscored the inefficiency of labor market policy, drawing attention to the fact that they have remained unchanged for over eight years and have only had a temporary effect.

In a Monday interview for 24 Hours daily, Angelov explains that nearly 400 000 people have undergone various trainings but the impact on the labor market has been rather insignificant both in terms of labor productivity and sustainability.

He notes that the mismatch between the skill demand of employers and the skill supply of the unemployed persists, which means that the impact of the funds invested in the sphere is questionable.

Angelov suggests that employment programs are inadequately targeted and also condemns the lack of planning as regards investments in the sphere.

To illustrate his point, he says that the number of unemployed in the most vulnerable groups, including people aged 50+, people with primary or pre-primary education, long-term unemployed, and permanently disabled, has been growing for the past eight years, despite the availability of employment programs.

A trip of Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama to Serbian capital Belgrade was put off for November after Rama spoke to Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, officials say.

The unprecedented visit was scheduled for last week, but heightened tensions over an abandoned football game prompted Belgrade and Tirana to change plans.

Serbian PM's press office now reported the meeting would take place on November 10, stressing in a statement the two heads of government "will not let go of the opportunity to meet and word for regional stability and to turn a new page" in terms of political and economic relations.

Wednesday's match ended just before the end of the first half at the request of the Albanian team, after a flag-waving drone flew over the Partizan Stadium in Belgrade carrying an image of Greater Albania, causing a melee among players and fans.

Belgrade calls the event "a provocation", something Tirana fervently denies. Serbian media reports even suggested Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama's brother, Olsi, who was in the VIP box during the match, was behind the indicent.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic welcomed on Monday Albania's decision to postpone the visit, but added his country has the "political will" to overcome the issue.

Bulgaria needs a functioning Parliament and a government elected by it, according to President Rosen Plevneliev.

Speaking Monday at the opening of the 10th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media at the Central Military Club in Sofia, he noted that he was impressed by the decorum and the constructive approach which had accompanied the first round of talks on forming a government.

“I am glad that the participants engage in detailed discussions on topics which are important for the country, on the priorities and reforms which are urgent and imminent,” Bulgaria’s head of state noted.

“To me there is no option for new elections. I am convinced that the people outlined the direction for the 43rd National Assembly pretty clearly, tasking it with implementing reforms and electing a stable government,” Plevneliev stated, as cited by Sega daily.

He underscored the need for the parties to achieve consensus on the most pressing tasks and to agree on a concrete program.

“It could be for less than four years, but the plans for at least a year or two ahead have to be concretely mapped out,” Plevneliev argued.

“Naturally, we all want the Parliament to spend a full 4-year-term in office and the government elected by it to remain in office for four years, enjoying the trust of Bulgarians. I believe that the first helpful step towards this goal is a clearly defined program by months for at least a year or two,” Bulgaria’s President said, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.

A long period of severing ties between Washington and Moscow should be expected amid attempts to solve the Ukraine crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned.

In an open lecture organized by the ruling party United Russia, Lavrov declared Russia would strive to expose the utopic nature of any attempts to reinstate a unipolar model in the world.

Relations of Russia with the US are turning soar partially due to the Ukraine crisis, which in his view needs united effort and not unilateral sanctions, but also because "the general reassessment of the Americans about their place in the world, the realization of what happened in the last decade, of the lack of alternative to the trend toward polycentrism [and] toward the strengthening of the new centers of political and economic power and political opinion will take time," ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying.

These processes are now "under way... within the G-20 group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), within the BRICS," Lavrov believes, adding the world is undergoing "a change of eras."

"The end of history was proclaimed, but did not happen. It became evident that today's stage of international relations is characterized by competition, and not only in economics or finance, but competition between value orientations and development models," he argued.

Sergey Lavrov also reminded Russia was ready to initiate a debate on disarmament as the US has repeatedly proposed, including in areas such as missile defense and deploying weapons in space.

In his words, the level of interaction with Washington "depends on the progress in seeking solutions to a number of international issues."

"Americans cannot understand it is in their interest to have Russia as an ally," he underlined.

The planned annual overhaul of unit 6 of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant has been completed and it has been reconnected to the energy grid.

The N-plant unit was recharged with fresh nuclear fuel.

The other 1000-MW unit of the Kozloduy NPP, unit 5, works at full capacity, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.

Center-right party GERB is to hold another round of negotiations with four parliamentary parties this week, its leader Boyko Borisov said.

Borisov announced after a Monday meeting of the leadership, mayors, municipal councilors, MEPs and MP-elects from GERB the right-wing coalition Reformist Bloc would be the first political entity conservatives will meet for talks.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which earlier vowed to remain in opposition, is also among the four to hold talks with GERB.

The two remaining parties are the Patriotic Front, a nationalist coalition with which GERB agreed on joint participation in the next cabinet, and left-wing Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV), with which conservatives found common ground on Sunday.

Borisov also told the Bulgarian National Television a coalition involving only the Reformists should be considered "a last resort" to avoid new early elections.

GERB's leader called RB "the only indisputable partner" of his party, reminding there was a 90-percent overlap between the two entities' electoral programs.

He ruled out any further talks with liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), dominated by ethnic Turks, ex-journalist Nikolay Barekov's Bulgaria without Censorship and ultra-nationalist Ataka.

In his view, there are prospects to form a government just within a week after President Plevneliev hands the mandate to GERB following the first Parliament session on October 27.

The second round of consultations should be carried out by then, Borisov believes.






Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross into Syria to fight Islamic State militants, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.

Cavusoglu’s statement marks a major shift in the position of the Turkish government which has been under pressure from Turkey’s own Kurdish population to let Iraqi Peshmerga fighters join Syrian Kurds battling IS.

Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara talks on the matter were ongoing. He didn’t give further details.

According to Al Jazeera TV station, the shift came after a phone conversation between US President Barack Obama and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which Obama described the situation in Kobane as ‘desperate’.

Ankara so far has been reluctant to allow Kurdish fighters to cross the border with Syria and join Syrian Kurds in fighting Islamic State in and around the town of Kobane. The town just across the border with Turkey has become a symbol of the international battle against the Jihadist group.

Ankara’s reluctance has been rooted in its concerns that allowing Iraqi Kurds into Syria to fight Islamic State may fuel separatist sentiment among its own Kurds. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the Turkish government considers a terrorist organization, has been fighting for greater autonomy of Kurds in Turkey for several decades and has links with Kurds in Syria.  

Cavusoglu’s spoke just hours after US transport aircraft dropped arms, ammunition and medical supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq  to Kurdish fighters in Kobane. The airdrops were made despite Turkeys objections to helping Syrian Kurds withstand attacks by Islamic State.

"Turkey has no wish see Kobane fall," Cavusoglu.

It appears, however, that despite its agreement to allow Iraki Kurdish fighters enter Syria from Turkey to defend Kobane, Ankara will still block any PKK fighters from entering Syria, AFP noted in its coverage of the news.

China Cheneral Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has been selected as the investor to develop two 740-MW units at the Cernavoda NPP, the Romanian state-owned energy utility Nuclearelectrica has said.

Nuclearelectrica and CGN signed in November 2013 a letter of intent about the projects, but the Chinese entity is now the winner of the tender to construct units 3 and 4, after also being the single bidder, Romania Insider reports.

A joint venture is to be set up where CGN will be the majority shareholder.

Previous estimates had suggested the project would carry a price tag of EUR 6.5 B, but the last feasibility study is now expected to be reviewed. Initially it was expected construction would cost about EUR 4 B.

Negotiation and signing of a memorandum of understanding about the joint implementation of the project are the next steps to be expected.

The two Canadian CANDU-type, 700-MW reactors operating now at the Cernavoda NPP in the country's south-east account for nearly a fifth of Romania's annual electricity needs.

Bulgaria's central bank is resorting to "absurd" excuses to avoid carrying out its legal duties about Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank or KTB), its owner has said.

In a statement on his website, Tsvetan Vasilev also points out the bank is actually serving the interest of a coalition called "PPP", but stops short of revealing what stands for the abbreviation.

He also suggests "all available resources", including "prosecution... supervisors [and] auditors", are being used toward the goal of "ruining the financial institution".

The coalition is about to pave the way for the bank's liquidation and the plundering of its assets, Vasilev declares.

KTB is under special supervision conducted by the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) since June 20, when a bank run depleted its liquidity.

Vasilev also refutes earlier claims of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), which says the Vienna-based fund EPIC, reportedly representing the three major shareholders at KTB (Vasilev himself, the Omani State General Reserve Fund, or SGRF, and Russian VTB bank) does not actually include the Omani fund, the entity that owns nearly a third of KTB.

He accuses KTB's supervisors of dividing its credit portfolio into four parts (ranging between "best assets" and "worst assets"), ignoring the portfolio's specific structure on which "the successful and quick rise of the institution" was based in the past 14 years.

Citing examples of how the pillage of Corpbank is being prepared, Vasilev stresses he is ready to fight for his bank "until the end" and to go on with attempts to restructure the bank, reiterating this end has become the project of his life.

The banker says the consortium he earlier set up to work on the recovery of KTB will most likely try to inject capital (probably using Vasilev's own company Bromak) into the financial institution by paying back approximately BGN 2 B of loans in return for the ownership of some assets and projects financed by the bank. In his view, such a step could provide sufficient liquidity and would restore the level of capital back to what the regulator requires.

A total of 8,000 new jobs will be financed under an employment project as the first framework contracts with employers have already been signed, Bulgaria's National Employment Agency announced.

Some 5,000 unemployed Bulgarians are expected to be hired by the end of October 2014, money.bg reports.

BGN 30M will be allocated to employers who create jobs in the industry and the services sectors. The new jobs are targeted at unemployed who have registered at the employment offices, giving priority to long-term unemployed, young people under 29, people over 55 and Roma people.

A session of conservative GERB party's officials is being held behind closed doors in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Monday.

Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB)'s leadership, mayors, municipal councilors, MEPs and MP-elects are discussing results of the consultations their party held with the other seven political entities that made it in Parliament following the snap elections on October 5.

Each day of the past week saw meetings of GERB with other parties. An outright agreement on government cooperation was reached only with the Patriotic Front (PF), a nationalist coalition.

Right-wing Reformist Bloc (RB), widely tipped as GERB's "most natural" partner in government, held seven-hour-long talks with the election winners, but failed to shake hands.

GERB nevertheless made clear it could give Reformists a second chance to negotiate.

President (2002-2012) Georgi Parvanov's ABV, or Alternative for Bulgarian Revival, surprisingly reached an agreement as well, but the two parties are expected to hold a second meeting only at an expert level.

GERB has ruled out any alliance with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the third political force dominated by ethnic Turks and has explicitly denied it would count on its support to form any kind of government. Any joint government action with former journalist Nikolay Barekov's Bulgaria without Censorship has also been declared out of the question.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) had earlier vowed to remain in opposition in the next cabinet, and subsequently failed to agree with GERB on most of its policy proposals.

The meeting of conservatives with ultra-nationalists Ataka was called off after the latter insisted talks in Parliament should be aired live, even though negotiations with all other parties had taken place behind closed doors.

Kurds fighting Islamic State (IS) in the Syrian town of Kobane have received US weapons and medical aid, the Pentagon says.

The move comes against the backdrop of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's declarations over the weekend that Ankara would not allow Washington to supply the Kurds with arms.

US Central Command said in a statement deliveries made by C-130 transport aircraft are designed to enable resistance against the town of Kobane, which many are still worried could fall to IS.

Officials believe the air strikes, combined with "continued resistance to ISIL on the ground" killed hunreds of fighters and destroyed or damaged pieces of ISIL combat equipment and fighting positions."

Though Turkey voted earlier in October to allow its soldiers to put boots on the ground in both Iraq and Syria to prevent a major offensive of IS, no action has been taken further than deploying tanks and armored vehicles along the common borders.

Ankara has also stopped short of helping Kurds fighting IS, claiming they are not different from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), perceived as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. Last week the Turkish military also carried out strikes on the PKK, marking the first spark of tensions since Erdogan and the organization's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan agreed on peace, with Ocalan calling on his supporters to lay down arms.

US President Barack Obama held phone conversation with Erdogan early on Sunday, according to the White House's press office.

The two reportedly agreed to work together against the militants, but Erdogan made clear no-one should expect from his country to allow arms deliveries to the Syrian Kurds.

Kobane has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the past months as Iraq and the West are seeking to stop the expansion of IS, a Sunni militant group that controls terrotories in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier Germany sent military equipment to Kurdish fighters in Iraq.

Australia is, as of Monday, officially involved in the fight against the Sunni extremists, sending 200 troops to help the Iraqi forces.

Hotels in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna have reported some BGN 163M revenue in the period June-August, according to data released by the regional statistical office.

Despite the cold and rainy start of the season and the crisis in Ukraine, which led to a decrease in the number of tourists, revenues from hotel stays were an average of 3% higher than in 2013, the Bulgarian newspaper Trud reports.

In August, hotel facilities with more than 10 beds accommodated almost 198,500 people, a 17.8% drop compared to 2013. Tourists also decreased by 19% in July and were a total of 184,400 people. The overnight stays, however, dropped by just about 5% mainly due to the Bulgarian tourists who spent less time at the seaside.

In the peak season, only one fifth of the visitors of Varna were Bulgarians. The highest number of foreign tourists came from Germany, followed by Russians, Romanians, and Poles.

Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev will open the 10th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media at the Central Military Club in Sofia, Monday.

The traditional forum brings together journalists from Bulgaria and abroad. The annual event will be take place between October 19 and 23 at three different locations -Sofia and the Serbian towns of Bosilegrad and Tsaribrod (Dimitrovgrad), which are home to Bulgarian communities,Bulgarian Telegraph Agency reports.

The event will be attended by over 40 representatives of Bulgarian newspapers, magazines and news websites, radio stations and television channels based in 20 countries.

The meeting agenda will focus on matters relevant to the Bulgarian media abroad.

Bulgaria needs to have a stable government coalition that will place state interests above those of political parties, a leading member of left-wing ABV movement said on Monday.

“This can be achieved through a coalition between GERB and BSP,” Ivailo Kalfin said on bTV station, referring to the centre-right party led by former premier Boyko Borisov and the Socialists which together have 123 of the 240 seats in the new Parliament elected in the snap vote held on October 5. “That’s the way it is in Austria, in the Netherlands”.

“ABV would support a coalition of GERB and BSP and even a minority cabinet but only in certain areas,” Kalfin said. He didn’t elaborate.

“A coalition comprising GERB, the Patriotic Front, the Reformist Bloc and ABV is just arithmetics targeting majority [in Parliament]. However, the Reformist Bloc have not yet made up their minds, while the Patriotic Front are demonstrating xenophobia and nationalism, which is not good.”  

GERB and ABV on Sunday reached agreement on most of issues on the agenda of coalition talks initiated by the centre-right party which won most votes in October 5 early elections but remained short of outright majority in Parliament. GERB’s meeting with ABV was the last one in the first round of political consultations over potential cooperation in forming a government coalition initiated by GERB prior to the inaugural session of the new Parliament scheduled for October 27.  

GERB’s consultations with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), however, last week failed to lead to agreement for joint participation in a future government coalition. The two parties remained far apart in their views on eight out of 12 priority tasks discussed at the consultations.

BSP is the second-biggest group with 39 of the 240 seats in the new Parliament where GERB has 84 seats.

Two Syrian children were detained at a gas station in Bulgaria’s town of Veliko Tarnovo.

The boys tried to escape after illegally crossing the Turkish border, private TV station TV 7 reported.

They traveled in a truck with Bulgarian registration carrying pallets.

The children have been taken to an accommodation center in Gorna Oryahovitsa.

The case is the subject of an investigation.

Pilots of German Lufthansa airlines have announced their plans on Sunday to start a 35-hour strike, Monday in their continuing dispute over retirement benefits.

The pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, said in a statement the strike will start at 11:00 GMT on Monday and would end at 21:59 GMT on Tuesday. Short- and medium-haul flights from Germany will be affected, union spokesman Markus Walh said.

The pilots are protesting a new wage contract as Europe‘s largest airline is battling to reduce costs in the face of stiff competition from budget airlines and emerging Middle East carriers.

Lufthansa said about 1,450 flights will be canceled on Monday and Tuesday because of the strikes. More than 200,000 customers will be affected by the walkout, the company added.

The strike is the second to hit Lufthansa in a week and the eighth since April. Since the strikes began, about 4,400 flights have been cancelled and more than half a million passengers have had to change their travel plans, Lufthansa said.

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic has defeated Bulgarian star tennis player Grigor Dimitrov in the final of the Stockholm Open.
Berdych won the Stockholm Open title by winning to Dimitrov in a match of 7:5, 4:6, 4:6 which lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Dimitrov loses 100 points in the ATP ranking due to the loss.
Dimitrov will get EUR 50 450 for playing in the final of the Stockholm Open, according to reports of sportal.bg.

Antoaneta Vassileva is a Bulgarian economist and Professor in Global Economics and International Economic Relations at the University of National and World Economy (UNWE). She has been Dean of the International Economics and Politics Faculty of the UNWE since 2011.
Prof. Vassileva is the wife of Corporate Commercial Bank AD’s majority shareholder Tzvetan Vassilev.

Do you think your husband is guilty?
First and foremost – guilty of what? If you mean the mock criminal case, which they fabricated at the bidding of certain political circles aiming to destroy the bank of my husband, let us not forget that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle of criminal law. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Secondly, so far we are not familiar with any evidence in the ongoing case. The indictment is based on witness testimonials, whose integrity and depth of thought are dubious: it was already proven for some that they falsify signatures and documents. Thirdly, someone obviously is looking for a scapegoat for the errors of the transition and for many people the most convenient culprit is Tsvetan Vasilev.

Are you together currently and where?
Yes, we are together. My husband and I are at a place where we are treated with sympathy and respect. I even have invitations to read lectures at several universities.

Why, in your opinion, somebody is trying to destroy the Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB)? Who was inconvenienced by it and why?
There are people in Bulgaria who possess a unique destructive talent. People across the world respect those who work hard and create, while in Bulgaria – those who manipulate and rule with fake or bought diplomas. The attack against KTB was planned with the aim to plunder and sell its assets. But as it is said – the task has been completed, but the goal has not been achieved.
KTB became inconvenient because it became the fourth largest bank in Bulgaria. Because it gave credits to a large part of the potentially successful Bulgarian business, because it supported the Bulgarian culture, sport, science, etc. Certain circles didn't like this – for example the representatives of the “comprador capital”, of the pseudo-elite, who claims a certain standard of living without real values, of the politicians who do not like independent and strong national business, of the frustrated competitors and the dependent representatives of the bank regulator. Just watch who parades around the TV studios trying to convince the public that the bank must be be bankrupted and we will figure out who became so uncomfortable with KTB.

Who is afraid that Tsvetan Vasilev could make disclosures?
Do you ask yourself why he could make disclosures? Probably because many people shared secrets with him or got favours from him.

Is your husband afraid for his life? What worries you the most?
Of course each of us worries that all his work is going down the drain. Much to our happiness, we get encouraging letters from all over the world – from friends, my former students and some colleagues. Truth is, we enjoy the most support from friends and supporters who are abroad.

What does Tsvetan Vasilev must do, in your opinion – to come back to Bulgaria or remain abroad and why?
Of course it is best if he comes back to Bulgaria. But in spite the numerous letters to the Chief Prosecutor asking for guarantees for his physical safety, we didn't get any. In spite the attempts to humiliate and villify Tsvetan Vasilev, he still has first, second and third best option.

What is the value of the property at the Geneva lake and how is it used right now?
The property at the Geneva lake is bought with a credit, covered by a mortgage, with a minimum participation of the owner and this is a standard practice in Switzerland. The house is in my name, but it is a common marital property. It is not in the name of a company or a foundation – a common practice of many of our compatriots. The property is diligently listed in my tax declaration. Someone apparently took the form to the offices of the Trud daily, seeking a cheap sensation. This is what the so-called “exclusive journalistic investigation” consists of. Everyone has the right to invest in projects, in shares, in real estate, etc., thus diversifying the risk.
My husband is one of the largest taxpayers in Bulgaria, with proven income, which many times exceed the family expenses. It is absurd that such investigations are initiated in a member state of the EU, which aims at providing freedom of movement of people and capital and claims to have freedom of commercial enterprise. Egalitarian thinking is embedded in the public consciousness in such a way, that it doesn't allow us to accept that every individual is different in their intellectual potential, financial means and entrepreneur abilities.

Is Tsvetan Vasilev's idea of sending in a structured offer on saving the bank still valid and what takes him so long?
I am witness to the incessant efforts of Tsvetan Vasilev to rehabilitate KTB. In the four months of the criminal-political attack against the bank, not a single day passed without him meeting an investor, partner, client or an interested party. He emphasized many times that the offers for restructuring KTB do not entail his participation in management or the capital structure of the bank, but are at the cost of his personal loss and readiness to provide additional assets, who are not part of the bank's. Those are the same assets that a certain legal office tried to acquire through falsification in the very beginning of the placing of the bank under conservatorship.

Are you familiar with the state and the management of the other businesses of your husband?
I have always enjoyed an independent development, different than my husband's. We have a family company, Trust Vasilevi, of which I am the CEO. I do not participate in my husband's business, because I am busy enough with my own work as a university professor and dean.

Which is the best case scenario, in your opinion?
The best case scenario is the rehabilitation of KTB. Currently everyone is losing.

Center-right party GERB and the left-wing ABV Movement have reached agreement on most of the issues on the agenda of the coalition talks.
Sunday’s 3.5-hour meeting between GERB, the winner in the early elections on October 5, and the ABV Movement was the last one within the first round of talks on forming a government.
Rumyana Bachvarova from the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party announced at a press conference on Sunday that the two parties were willing to continue consultations on forming a government on an expert level.
Bachvarova, as cited by the BGNES news agency, noted that GERB and the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) Movement had several major differences, including the issue of increasing the role of the state, the construction of new nuclear capacity and the moratorium on the Belene NPP, and tax policy.
She explained that GERB was in favor of the flat tax rate, while the ABV Movement demanded progressive taxation with an income-tax-free threshold, and that GERB was firmly opposed to the lifting of the moratorium on the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, unlike the party of Georgi Parvanov.
She informed that the two formations had agreed on the parties they were unwilling to team up with in a coalition government.

Bulgaria has to build a single search and rescue system for aviation accidents, according to caretaker Transport Minister Nikolina Angelkova.
Angelkova took part in the first interdepartmental meeting on search and rescue operations in air transport.
She explained that the establishment and maintenance of the SAR system would cost BGN 2 M a year, adding that the money will be provided from aeronautical charges to be collected by the State Enterprise "Air Traffic Services Authority" (BULATSA).
“A national SAR plan for aviation accidents should be drafted and approved as soon as possible. The aim is to create an efficient and effective SAR system,” Angelkova said, as cited by Sega daily.
She made clear that the plan would provide details about the relations between the institutions and organizations in charge of handling aviation accidents, as well as education and training plans for rescue teams, and descriptions of the necessary equipment.

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy and Energy specified that US company Westinghouse Energy Systems had been transferred over BGN 7 M under a program for the upgrade of units 5 and 6 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.
The media statement was published to dispel allegations that the money had been transferred under the project for a seventh unit at the Kozloduy-based N-plant.
Ivan Genov, former CEO of the Kozloduy NPP, told the Bulgarian National Radio Saturday that the payment had been transferred under a contract for the replacement of the command systems of the special corpus servicing units 5 and 6 as part of the program for the extension of their lifespan, stressing that it had nothing to do with the project for Kozloduy NPP unit 7.
Genov underscored that the contract had been signed in 2013 and was being implemented.
He made clear that the command system of the special corpus had to be replaced with equipment produced by Westinghouse.
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Economy and Energy also confirmed that the payment had been transferred to Westinghouse under a contract signed in 2013 for the upgrade of management and control systems of the special corpus servicing units 5 and 6 of the Kozloduy NPP.
According to the press office of the Ministry, the total value of the contract signed in 2013 with US company Westinghouse is USD 15 995 000 and it is to be implemented in the period 2013-2016.
The shareholder agreement for unit 7 of the Kozloduy NPP was signed with Westinghouse Electric at the end of the term in office of the socialist-led government of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski.
The agreement was signed under the condition that it would only take effect after the approval of the new government.
The agreement envisages 30% participation of Westinghouse in the project company for unit 7 of the Kozloduy NPP, with the remaining 70% owned by the Kozloduy NPP.

Center-right party GERB, the winner in the early elections on October 5, is holding coalition talks with the left-wing Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) Movement.
This is the final round of talks within the first round of political consultations on forming a government.
The ABV Movement of former two-term President Georgi Parvanov announced that it was not seeking to participate in a government with Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) at any cost.
The ABV Movement, as cited by the Bulgarian National Radio, explained in a statement that it would back urgent anti-crisis measures of the new government only in the case of agreement on common priority goals.
The ABV Movement said it would bring up the issues of the 2014 budget update, the case of Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank, KTB) and the introduction of progressive taxation and inheritance tax on large estates during the talks with GERB.
The party made clear that it would also seek to reach agreement with GERB on amending public procurement procedures, implementing an adequate social policy, and providing affordable healthcare and high-quality education, as well as conducting radical reform in the judiciary.
The list of urgent reforms of the ABV Movement in the energy sector included steps aimed at achieving the full independence of the energy watchdog, unfreezing the Belene nuclear power plant project and re-launching the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline.
Center-right party GERB acknowledged the need to pay attention to the social aspect of government policies but insisted that measures concerning salaries, pensions, and public financing were only supposed to match economic growth trends.

Bulgaria’s northeastern town of Kaspichan is holding a referendum on banning the exploitation of a medical waste incineration facility.
Around 2800 residents of Kaspichan are eligible voters in the local referendum, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.
Polls open at 6 am and close at 7 pm on Sunday.
Locals may cast their ballots at six polling stations.
In order for the referendum results to be valid, at least 1560 people have to vote, as many as the number of voters in the last round of local elections in 2011.

A man died after falling down an elevator shaft in Sofia Saturday night, according to the Sofia Interior Ministry Directorate.
The incident happened at around 10:30 pm on Saturday in a block of flats in the Geo Milev residential district, according to reports of private TV station Nova TV.
The elevator got stuck between floors, trapping a man and a woman inside.
They called the maintenance company.
However, the man tried to get out as the woman had felt sick.
The 53-year-old man did not manage to climb out of the elevator but fell down the pit and died, according to reports of Sega daily.
The woman was taken to hospital with a hypertensive crisis
The incident happened in a newly-built block of flats.
On August 19, an elevator plummeted from the 9th floor of a block of flats on the Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd in Sofia, killing 46-year-old Tsvetelina Radulcheva and injuring 41-year-old Maria Vaklinova.

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