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Wednesday’s Champions League Group B match between Ludogorets and Liverpool at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia ended in a draw.


Dani Abalo (3') and Georgi Terziev (88') scored for Ludogorets and Rickie Lambert (7') and Jordan Henderson (37') for Liverpool.

Ludogorets and Liverpool both have 3 points in Group B.


Real Madrid is first with 12 points, followed by Basel with 6.

Liverpool leads 2:1 to Ludogorets in the first half of the match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia.


Dani Abalo scored for Ludogorets in the third minute of the match, after which Liverpool’s Lambert leveled up the score in the 8th minute and in the 37th minute Henderson scored for Liverpool.


Bulgarian champion Ludogorets English side Liverpool in a decisive Champions League Group B match that is to determine which of the two teams is to continue its participation in the European tournaments.


Both teams come out for the victory, as it will increase their opportunities for continuing their participation in the European tournaments in the spring.


While Ludogorets has less chances of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League, an eventual win will give them an important advantage over their direct opponents for occupying the third place in the final standing, which will guarantee them participation in the Europa League tournament.


In the first game between the two teams in September, Liverpool achieved a narrow 2-1 victory after scoring the winning goal from a penalty awarded in injury time.

Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry and Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry have not received an official request for stationing tank bases on the territory of the country, according to Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev.

Commenting on allegations of plans to station tank bases in Bulgaria for NATO military trainings, Nenchev assured journalists Wednesday that there was no cause for concern.

Asked whether Bulgaria had the right to reject such a request, he said that Bulgaria had agreed on the organization of joint initiatives, adding that the country observed the agreement.

The allegations were triggered by a statement of Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, head of US Army forces in Europe, who declared that the US army planned to deploy around 150 tanks and armored vehicles to several NATO countries next year as part of an operation dubbed "Operation Atlantic Resolve".

Hodges told AFP that some of the heavy armor could be stationed in Eastern Europe.

The production of Chiprovtsi carpets has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Chipovtsi carpet is a type of handmade carpet with two absolutely identical sides.

It is a flat, two-sided floor covering weave done on a vertical loom.

Its name is derived from the northwestern town of Chiprovtsi where their production started in the 17th century.

The carpets are made of natural materials like cotton and wool. Their thickness is 3–5 mm. The basic colors are yellow, brown, red, blue and green, according to Wikipedia.

The weaving of the flat, two-sided Chiprovtsi carpets is the third Bulgarian element on the list alongside the Nestinarstvo fire-dancing riteand the Bistrishki Babi (Grannies of Bistritsa) folklore group from the village of Bistritsa.

The nomination was defended by a team headed by Professor Mila Santova from the  Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, which also included Assistant Professor Iva Stanoeva, and Assistant Professor Miglena Ivanova.

Chiprovtsi carpets have for a long time been available on the regional and world trade fairs, expositions and markets.

The inscription of Chiprovtsi carpets will contribute to the visibility of Southeast European heritage related to traditional woven covering and will boost knowledge about the cultural diversity in this part of the world.

On a local level, it will reaffirm the value of cultural activities involved in the production of Chiprovtsi carpets.

Traditional diachronic transmission of carpet weaving skills – from mothers and grand-mothers to daughters or grand-daughters – is well-preserved in the region.

Weaving is often mastered informally while working together on big carpets.

Traditional informal family education is regularly supplemented by formal courses at “Petar Bogdan 1909” chitalishte and “Petar Parchevich” State School where the tutors are carefully chosen between the best masters in the town.

Ivaylo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Social Policy, has been appointed Chair of Bulgaria’s National Council for Tripartite Cooperation.

Vladislav Goranov, Finance Minister, will also be a representative of the government on the Council, according to the press office of the Council of Ministers.

The Bulgarian government has also replaced its representatives at the National Social Security Institute.

Yordan Hristoskov, Petya Evtimova, Lyubomir Bakalivanov, Vladimir Petrov, and Vladimir Tudzharov have been removed from the Supervisory Board of the National Social Security Institute.

The new representatives of the government at the Supervisory Board of the National Social Security Institute are Ivaylo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Galab Donev, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Adam Persenski, Deputy Health Minister, Iliyana Vladova, Expert at the Finance Ministry, and Filip Kirev, Advisor at the Economy Ministry.

The Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) has carried out a top-level reshuffle at a number of state-owned energy companies.

Georgi Hristozov and Georgi Zlatev have been removed from the Board of Directors of the Maritza Iztok mines (Mini Maritsa Iztok EAD) and are to be replaces by Dian Chervenkondev and Nikolay Dikov, according to a media statement of BEH.

Andon Andonov keeps his place on the BoD of the Maritza Iztok mines. An Executive Director of the coal mining company is to be elected at a BoD sitting.

Ekaterina Istatkova has been removed from the post of Chief Executive Officer of the National Electric Company (NEK).

Istatkova is to be replaced by Petar Iliev, who has been a member of the governing body of NEK.

Changes have also been made to the Executive Board of the Electricity System Operator (ESO), which welcomes Ivan Yotov, Dimitar Valchanov and Milko Milkov as new members.

Diyan Dimitrov has been elected member of the Board of Directors of state-owned thermal power plant Maritsa Iztok 2. He replaces Mihail Mitkov.

The changes will enter into force after their inscription into the Business Register.

The changes at the governing bodies of the state-owned energy companies are aimed at streamlining their management and stabilizing their financial condition, according to the media statement of BEH.

Bulgarian prosecutors have charged seven people with membership of a criminal group preaching radical Islam and propagating war, local media reported on Wednesday.

The group, which was found to have propagated ideas relating to Islamic State organisation, comprised Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin who used Arab names to communicate among themselves.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, a Muslim spiritual leader in the Roma neighbourhood of the city of Pazardhik, was the group’s chief, according to the prosecution.

Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutors formally charged Ahmed Musa Ahmed with membership of a group propagating war and anti-democratic ideology.The imam has rejected the charges, according to his defence lawyer Elvira Penkova.

The group was arrested during a large-scale operation against extolling the ideology of Islamic State. The operation was conducted by the State Agency for National Security, or DANS, under the supervision of the Chief Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday and Wednesday.

DANS Chairman Vladimir Pisanchev told a press briefing the group “isn’t an Islamic State cell but it could have been one”.

According to Pisanchev, the investigation has found out that members of the group were allegedly attempting to recruit fighters for Islamic State. Islamist jihadists had used the homes of group members as transit points, Pisanchev added.

The operation is part of an investigation of suspected “propagation of a fascist or another anti-democratic ideology or a forced change of public and state order established by the Constitution” and “propagation of war”. Both crimes carry jail terms or fines under Bulgaria's Penal Code.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed is appealing an earlier four-year jail sentence he had been issued for propagating radical Islam ideology.

 

Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski has said that Bulgaria will not sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) unless the US lifts visa requirements.

Lukarski argued Wednesday that Bulgaria’s stance on the TTIP was not much different from that of the other EU Member States, the difference being that Bulgaria wanted the visa regime to be included as a key point in the negotiations.

He explained that the talks had not reached the stage of discussing the US visa requirements, according to reports of investor.bg.

The official stance of the Bulgarian government is that the talks on the TTIP must include the visa issue.

TTIP was one of the main points on the agenda of the recent meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.

Lukarski participated in the latest meeting of the European Commission on the TTIP.

On Tuesday, the European Commission gave a boost to transparency by committing to provide greater access to documents relating to the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States.

"We want to consult even more extensively on TTIP," said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, "and be even more transparent, so we can show clearly what the negotiations are about and de-mystify them. We'll use this as a basis to engage further with stakeholders and the public."

Russia will build the South Stream pipeline if Europe needs to diminish transit risks and secure stable gas supplies, according to Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev.

Ulyukayev, as cited by ITAR-TASS, suggested that the South Stream gas pipeline project would only be built if European consumers wanted to reduce transit risks.

He told journalists that in the case of dropping plans to build the South Stream gas pipeline, Europe would have to take the risk of disruptions to guaranteed gas supplies.

He was adamant that that the plans to build a gas pipeline to China had nothing to do with the fulfillment of Russia’s obligations to European consumers.

Ulyukayev made clear that the matter involved natural diversification and balance of supplies, adding that Russia had enough gas for both the East and the West.

The European Commission has opposed the project, stressing that it is incompatible with the EU’s Third Energy Package.

Bulgaria suspended the construction of the local section of the pipeline after the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against the country over the lack of transparency in the selection of a contractor.

The construction of the undersea section of the South Stream gas pipeline has been scheduled to start in mid-December.

Bulgarian prosecutors have formally charged imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed with membership of a group propagating war and anti-democratic ideology.

Criminal charges will be also brought against another five people detained in a large-scale operation conducted by the Chief Prosecutor's Office and the State Agency for National Security, or DANS, in several Bulgarian cities on Tuesday BNR radio station reported on Wednesday. 

The operation is part of an investigation of suspected “propagation of a fascist or another anti-democratic ideology or a forceful change of the public and state order  established by the Constitution” and “propagation of war”. Both violationsare punishable by a jail terms or a fine under Bulgaria's Penal Code.

Charges against Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, seen as the spiritual leader of Muslims in the Roma neighbourhood of Pazardhik, were pressed by the regional prosecutors’ office in the city in southern Bulgaria on Wednesday, BNR said.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed is appealing an earlier four-year jail sentence he had been issued for propagating radical Islam ideology.

Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has vowed a comprehensive audit of the sector to establish the financial gap and identify ways of overcoming it.

During a Wednesday sitting of the Branch Council for Tripartite Cooperation, she declared that urgent reforms aimed at coping with the imbalance in the system would be applied as soon as the current situation of the energy sector was clear.

The participants in the meeting, including representatives of state-owned and private energy companies, discussed the necessity of injecting fresh funds into the energy system, as well as options for solving the problem with the indebtedness of companies in the sector, according to the press office of the Energy Ministry.

The participants in Wednesday’s meeting proposed measures aimed at normalizing the work process at the Maritsa Iztok mines and the Cherno More-Burgas mine by guaranteeing the regular payment of salaries at the coal mining companies.

Some 18 months ago, Bulgaria’s caretaker government of Prime Minister Marin Raykov, the World Bank, and the European Commission prepared an analysis of the local energy sector and proposed steps to stabilize it, according to reports of dnevnik.bg.

In June 2014, Bulgaria’s State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) announced that the debts of the National Electric Company (NEK), accumulated since 2010, had reached BGN 2.9 M,

The caretaker government of Georgi Bliznashki created an Energy Board in a bid to solve the problems of the sector.

The West should cooperate with Russia in confronting Islamic extremism, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

In an interview for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Blair pointed to Islamic extremism as presenting the largest long-term threat to security.

Despite the strained relations over Ukraine, the West should be ready to seek cooperation with Russia, as well as other major players, such as China and India in combating terrorism.

Blair described Russia as a powerful player, which has to be taken into account when the West addresses challenges such as that in the Middle East.

According to him, most likely Russia will have to be involved in finding a solution to the crisis in Syria.

Since his resignation as Prime Minister in 2007 Tony Blair has acted as a Special Envoy of the Middle East Quartet, the four-party entity consisting of the UN, the EU, the USA and Russia, that mediates the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the interview, Blair said that he was worried more than ever about the Israel-Palestine situation.

He pointed that developments in Europe towards the recognition of a Palestinian state signified the frustration of people at the lack of progress and expressed their anxiety towards the treatment of Palestinians.

Last month Sweden recognized Palestinian statehood and similar moves are taking place in other countries of the EU.

The European Commission on Wednesday asked Bulgaria to comply properly with EU law in four areas or face referral to the European Union's Court of Justice.

The four sectors, on which the EU executive body has issued reasoned opinions on Bulgaria, are exchange of information on traffic offences, energy efficiency, citizens' exposure to sulphur dioxide and the setting up of penalties against airlines breaching EU traffic management rules.

The reasoned opinions, the second stage of the EU infringement procedures, are part of the European Commission's monthly package of infringement decisions, in which the Commission is pursuing legal action against member states for failing to comply properly with their obligations under EU law.

The package unveiled on Wednesday comprises 205 decisions relating to 21 EU member states, including 32 reasoned opinions and six referrals to the Court of Justice.

Bulgaria has two months to notify the Commission in measures it had taken to fully implement the directive on the cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences. The directive, which covers offences such as speeding and drunk driving, allows EU drivers to be identified and thus prosecuted for offences committed in a member state other than the one where their vehicle is registered.

In the sector of energy efficiency, Bulgaria has two months to ensure the full transposition of the Energy Efficiency Directive into national law. The directive requires member states to achieve certain energy savings over the period from 1 January
2014 until 31 December 2020.

With its reasoned opinion on limiting citizens' exposure to sulphur dioxide the Commission is asking Bulgaria to take forward-looking, speedy and effective action to keep the period of non-compliance as short as possible. The EU's Air Quality Directive
obliges member states to observe both the hourly and daily limits for exposure, as well as to establish air quality plans setting out appropriate measures to reduce sulphur dioxide levels. If Bulgaria fails to act within two months, the case may be referred to the EU Court of Justice.

Bulgaria also has two months to notify the Commission of the measures taken to apply the regulation that establishes common rules for the management of air traffic flows in the EU. It requires airlines to respect the flight plans and airport slots assigned to them, and member states to set up penalties in case of violation. Bulgaria should have introduced the respective national legislation by September 2011 but has failed so far to do so.

 

Five of the six people detained in the city of in Pazardzhik for suspected propagation of anti-democratic ideology, have been released, BNR radio station reported on Wednesday.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, seen as the spiritual leader of Muslims in the Roma neighbourhood of the city in southern Bulgaria, remains in police custody. The maximum period of police detention under Bulgarian law is 72 hours.

The morning prayer at the mosque in Pazardzhik's Iztok neighbourhood where the imam had preached went on as usual.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed is appealing a four-year jail sentence issued against him for propagating radical Islam ideas.

Bulgaria's government has decided to replace twenty-four out of twenty-eight district governors.

Only those in Plovdiv and Varna, the districts with two largest cities (except for the capital Sofia), and in Haskovo and Silistra (smaller entities to the south and north-east of Bulgaria respectively) remain in office after a Council of Ministers session on Wednesday.

So far no reasons have been cited for the move.

Bulgaria's interim cabinet, which was in office until the current government of conservative GERB and right-wing Reformist Bloc (RB) took over this month, was widely criticized for embarking on large-scale reshuffles of the administration, including the replacement of more than half of the district governors.

Keeping the minimum wage at its 2014 levels and slashing money for salaries in the administration by 10 percent are among the core points of next year's draft budget published on the Finance Ministry's website.

The latter move is related to a process of "optimization" that state structures are expected to undergo in 2014.

A decision to freeze the minimum wage comes despite calls from trade unions and Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin to increase it by BGN 40 compared to this year.

Currently at BGN 340, the minimum wage is however projected to grow by BGN 20 in 2016 and BGN 20 more in 2017.

The budget also includes a budget deficit of three percent to GDP (down from this year's expected 3.7%) that is to gradually shrink to 2% in 2017. Income is estimated at 36.8% of the economy and expenditure at 39.8% for next year.

Fresh borrowing of BGN 8.1 B is expected in 2015. Bulgaria's debt would thus reach a total value of BGN 24.5 B, or 29.7% of the economic output.

Pensions go up over the next three years, with 1.9% from July 1, 2015 and 2.4%/2.8% the same day in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

GDP growth is projected at 0.8 percent, with domestic demand expected to boost growth rate to 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2.3 percent in 2017.

The maximum insurable earnings will be BGN 2600 in 2015, BGN 200 more than in 2014, but will remain frozen in the two years after, the draft also reads.

No changes to social and health insurance has been envisaged, but the minimum insurance thresholds corresponding to different occupations will see an average increase of four percent.

The flat tax system is to remain in force. Under a recent amendment, bank deposit interests are to be imposed a two-percent levy.

Technically, lawmakers have not yet moved to overhaul even this year's budget, but a final vote is expected later on Wednesday.

The Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova is planning to hold working meetings with her Balkan counterparts at which to discuss the possibilities of easing the regime on issuing of tourist visas.

Angelkova announced this at the opening of the first edition of the Go2Balkans forum, which is attended by tour operators and other companies in the field of tourism from ten countries of the region, reports dnevnik.bg.

The Minister did not specify any concrete possibilities for the easing of the visa regime, but she reminded that these will be compatible with the commitments pertaining to Bulgaria as an external border of the European Union.

According to her, it was realistic to expect that the alleviations in question could be introduced for the forthcoming winter tourist season.

If these measures are taken into account, the Ministry of Tourism forecasts a 4-5 % growth in the number of foreign tourists, expecting that this increase will be due to visitors from the neighbouring countries.

Angelkova announced that negotiations with the Interior Ministers and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the easing of the visa regime on the Balkans were forthcoming.

The Minister reminded that such a measure will be of significant importance for the development of tourism.

One of the aims of the Go2Balkans forum, which unites representatives of tourist companies, organisations, museums and municipalities from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania, is to offer a common tourist product of the Balkans.

According to Angelkova, if such a product becomes reality, Bulgaria will be provided with the opportunity of attracting tourists from far-away destinations such as China and India.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced what he describes as an investment package of EUR 315 B for the next three years.

The so-called "Investment Plan" is aimed at boosting the growth of EU economy by 0.7 to one percent and opening a million new jobs.

EU institutions are expected to only provide a small chunk of the money. Juncker's idea does not involve raising and setting aside EUR 315 B, but just EUR 60 B from the European Investment Bank (EIB) via "EU guarantees" issued by the Commission itself.

The remainder will be secured from public and private investment.

In Juncker's words it is time for Europe to kick-start growth without boosting public debt further.

The "investment plan" will only constitue a third of the strategy to provide employment opportunities to Europeans currently out of work.

Though admitting his plan had certain flaws, Juncker insisted it was not just "money moving around".

EIB President Werner Hoyer, who spoke after Juncker, made clear his institutions was committed to the project.

Experts composing an "investment committee" will be in charge of evaluating Juncker's proposal.

The project has met mixed reception, with some analysts doubting its feasibility.

Wednesday's announcement comes just hours before a vote of no confidence against Juncker over tax avoidance schemes carried out in Luxembourg while he was the country's Prime Minister.



The National Assembly voted to increase the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) with further BGN 100 million.

The update of the NZOK's budget for 2014 was approved by the members of Parliament without debates at a second reading.

This is the second update of the NZOK's financial framework after the previous legislature voted to grant BGN 225 M more to the fund at its last session before it was dissolved on August 6.

This is the second update of the NZOK's financial framework after the previous legislature voted to grant BGN 225 M more to the fund at its last session before it was dissolved on August 6. - See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/164831/Bulgarian+MPs+Pass+Overhaul+of+Healthcare+Budget#sthash.m59g8TQz.dpuf

Half of the funds or BGN 50 million will be allocated to health insurance payments for medical aid provided in hospitals, while BGN 15 million will go for treatment of malignant diseases.

Another BGN 25 million are allocated for medicines used in domestic treatment, which are paid by the Health Fund, and further BGN 10 million go for medical products, applied in hospital treatment.

The update was necessary after the execution of the NZOK budget for 2014 revealed an emerging lack of funds under health insurance payments.

Catalan government head Artur Mas has voiced his intention to call early elections as a step toward gaining independence from Spain.

Mas told a 3000-strong multitude at a conference in Barcelona he believed this was "the only instrument" allowing Catalans to decide on their future as a nation, Spanish daily El País quotes him as saying.

He added this required the presence of certain conditions and the willingness of both political parties and non-profits to transform themselves into a de-facto "independence referendum".

In his words, pro-independence parties can run in the elections by merging their lists, a move that could give a pro-Catalan government the opportunity to "found a state" of its own within eighteen months. Within that time, Barcelona should engage in dialogue with international institutions and begin setting up state structures, a process which could be brought to an end "by end-2016".

He was explicit that he did not wish to top a unity list if it is formed.

During the event Mas pointed to the need of early elections as a "substitute" to the local referendum on independence which the Constitutional Court of Spain declared illegal this autumn.

But Catalonia's President refused to be more specific about a date to hold a snap general poll, underlining his intention to bring it forward only if there is broader political will for independence.

Mas was applauded by delegates at the conference and his speech was frequently interrupted by voices from the multitude chanting "independence."

Barcelona has long demanded the right to hold a Scotland-style referendum and to be granted more rights (including to manage its own revenues) through a constitutional reform. At the same time Mas has often voiced his doubts as to whether Madrid will be willing to carry them out.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slammed Catalonia's regional authority as an "anti-government" and said the independence plan tabled by Mas "is leading nowhere".

Catalonia's President is going "against what is happening in the world", La Vanguardia quoted Rajoy as explaining, referring to the processes of integration. The Prime Minister added forcing people to choose "between being Catalans or Spaniards" "makes no sense" and "is against freedom and rights."  

The reigning Bulgarian champion Ludogorets faces English side Liverpool in a decisive Champions League Group B match, that is to determine which of the two teams is to continue its participation in the European tournaments.

Before the Wednesday game, the two teams occupy the bottom two places in Group B, with an equal number of points – 3, but the English side has a better goal difference.

Both teams come out for the victory, as it will increase their opportunities for continuing their participation in the European tournaments in the spring.

While Ludogorets has less chances of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League, an eventual win will give them an important advantage over their direct opponents for occupying the third place in the final standing, which will guarantee them participation in the Europa League tournament.

In the first game between the two teams in September, Liverpool achieved a narrow 2-1 victory after scoring the winning goal from a penalty awarded in injury time.

But since then the English have recorded a poor performance, achieving only 6 victories out of 18 matches in all tournaments.

In their last game on Sunday, Liverpool suffered a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, and are currently occupying the 12th place in the Premier League, which is a far cry from their performance last season, when they ended second.

Similarly, Ludogorets are not doing their greatest season, alternating good games in Europe with more modest performances in the domestic A Group, where they currently stand at 2nd place.

In particular, they performed poorly in the Saturday derby against current leaders CSKA, drawing 1-1.

In Europe, the team from Razgrad played well in their first three matches of the Champions League, but suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Basel, which sent them at the bottom of Group B.

Liverpool will not rely on forward Daniel Sturridge and striker Mario Balotelli, as both of them are injured and did not travel to Sofia.

Due to injuries, striker Roman Bezjak and defender Brayan Angulo will not appear for Ludogorets.

The English visitors arrived in Sofia on Tuesday evening and were taken straight to their hotel, avoiding to greet the crowd of supporters that had gathered at the airport.

The five-time European champions have refused to carry out a training on Bulgarian soil, holding their last training session in the UK.

The match, which will be played at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, kicks-off at 21.45, and will be broadcasted live on bTV Action.

Volen Siderov, who heads the ultra-nationalist party Ataka, has renounced the immunity he enjoys as a lawmaker in order to face prosecution.

Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva announced at the beginning of Wednesday's plenary session that Siderov had submitted the day before a declaration to request the move.

Siderov's immunity was demanded by Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in mid-November.

Ataka's leader is accused of hooliganism (he verbally assaulted a French cultural attaché during a Sofia-Varna flight in January) and infliction of minor injuries to a police officer.



The Central Narcotics Bureau busted a drug ring in Lebanon that had employed a Bulgarian chemist to produce Captagon pills for export to a country in the Gulf, Lebanese police said on Tuesday.

A statement of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said that the Central Narcotics Bureau had been notified that a Bulgarian chemist specialising in manufacturing Captagon pills and freebase cocaine had entered Lebanon.

According to the ISF, the arrested Bulgarian, identified as 47-year old B. Karbozov, is one of the most dangerous manufacturers in the world.

Karbozov had come to Lebanon on the request of Palestinian national M. Khalaf and Syrian citizen S. al-Qanas, who had asked him to produce the pills intended for export to the Gulf.

Following two months of investigations and surveillance, the Central Narcotics Bureau, in coordination with the Saudi security forces, arrested the three men on Sunday in separate operations in Beirut, south Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

The Central Narcotics Bureau has also identified the other members of the international ring and preparations are underway for their arrest with the cooperation of the competent Saudi authorities.

Captagon is a type of amphetamine that causes euphoria and suppresses pain and is reportedly widely used by Syrian rebels.

The US Army is planning to station about 150 tanks and armored vehicles to NATO countries, including Bulgaria, next year, a US general has said.

“I’m going to look at options that would include distributing this equipment in smaller sets, company-size or battalion-size, perhaps in the Baltics, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, places like that,” Ben Hodges, who heads NATO's Allied Land Command, was quoted by the Enquirer as saying.

Troops might also be deployed for several months to carry out joint drills in these countries.

In a phone interview Hodges explained nearly 50 armored vehicles were already in place and another 100 M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles would be "pre-positioned" in Germany and possibly elsewhere.

He added the equipment sent to Eastern Europe would "stay behind" after the joint exercises.

The move is part of the so-called "Operation Atlantic Resolve", a US gesture of support for allies in Eastern Europe in the light of what the alliance has described as possible aggression from Russia.


Orhan Ismailov, an ethnic Turk who has been appointed Deputy Minister of Defense, could disclose secret information to the Turkish intelligence, a nationalist leader has said.

Orhan Ismailov owes his "heady career" to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Valeri Simeonov, who co-chairs the nationalist coalition Patriotic Front, told the Bulgarian National Television.

Last Wednesday Simeonov placed a one-week ultimatum saying Prime Minister Boyko Borisov should decide within that time whether to replace Ismailov, adding the PF could withdraw its support from the cabinet if the "controversial deputy" is in.

So far Borisov has declined to make the reshuffle demanded by the nationalists.

Later on Wednesday Simeonov flew into anger after the host of the Bulgarian National Radio's morning broadcast asked him why the PF was rejecting Ismailov only because of his name.

"We will never be against any Turkish name," he made clear, adding Ismailov's political biography was rather dubious.

Just aged 23 Ismailov was appointed "by the DPS" to the "Commission for Control on Information," Simeonov said, perhaps referring to the State Commission on Information Security (DKSI) of which he was Deputy Chair between 2003 and 2007.

"Then he was sent to another commission. Even if he were [Albert] Einstein he would not have had such capabilities."

He also cited as an evidence the fact that Korman Ismailov from the Freedom and Dignity People's Party (NPSD, part of co-ruling Reformist Bloc) who raised the deputy's candidacy, had studied in the Turkish city of Konya where Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had supervised his Master's thesis. However, Davutoglu has never taught there.

Simeonov and Krasimir Karakachanov, the other PF co-head, are set to meet Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev later on Wednesday.

Karakachanov later denied any ultimatum had been placed and asserted that the Patriots were still firmly behind the government.

 

Tensions have escalated again in Ferguson, over the past hours, with protesters marching there and also in a number of US cities.

This was the second night of protests after a court ruling sparked unrest across Ferguson, where Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson in August.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the number of National Guard troops deployed to Ferguson, a suburban St Louis city, to preserve peace. Some 2200 National Guard officers had been deployed earlier this week.

Monday night saw the arrests of 80 people over alleged burglary and trespassing.

Ferguson's population is mostly black (67.4% as of the 2010 census), but mainly white police officers are in charge of patrolling.

Many in the city's African-American community have demanded that the officer be charged with murder, but the grand jury decided not to press state criminal charges against him.

Some protesters carried signs reading "Black Lives Matter", and many chanted "Hands up, don't shoot".

According to some witness accounts from the site of the incident, Brown's hands were raised when he was shot dead.

In the cities of New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere smaller crowds also took to the streets in protest.

US President Barack Obama stressed he could not comment on concrete cases that are within the competence of local judiciary officials, but added there was clearly "a sense" among "many communities of color" that "laws are not being enforced uniformly or fairly".

In his words, however, there is "no excuse" for rioting.

Meanwhile Wilson gave his first public comments since the tragic event in August, telling ABC News he had feared for his life and could not have reacted differently. He also said he was convinced he had done his job "right".

A second vote whether to update this year's state budget is scheduled for Wednesday.

The new budget, prepared after the one drafted by the previous elected government registered a BGN 1 B shortfall in its income statement. Additional expenditure is also urgently needed to tackle the aftermath of the crisis at Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), with deposits worth BGN 3 B due to be paid starting 4 December.

Earlier this week the temporary Budget Committee in Parliament approved the draft legislation on a second reading.

A new cap on the deficit (3.7 percent of GDP) and public debt (BGN 4.5 B additionally) will be introduced, with the ruling coalition arguing the move is inevitable despite the threat of an excessive deficit procedure which could be triggered by the EU Commission.

The bill has seen some amendments since first unveiled by the Council of Ministers. It now includes the proposal of Deputy PM and Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin (ABV) to grant a Christmas bonus to every pensioner, with BGN 50 M set aside to that end.

France's President Francois Hollande has announed the delivery of a Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia is now suspended until further notice.

Paris has cited the ongoing unrest in Ukraine's east as a reason.

"The President of the Republic considers that the situation in eastern Ukraine still does not permit the delivery of the first BPC (helicopter carrying and command vessel)," TV station France 24 quotes a statement from the French President's office.

Paris initially postponed the move, with the delivery of the Vladivostok first planned for early in November. However, until Tuesday the deal had not been formally suspended.

In 2011 a deal was sealed envisaging the supply of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia, with a price tag of EUR 1.2 B.

There have been no comments as to whether the second ship, the Sevastopol, is also to suffer delays.

Sevastopol's delivery is currently scheduled for next year.

France has been increasingly under pressure in the past months, with a number of other EU member states trying to talk President Hollande into putting the deal on hold as a punitive measure against Russia.

The decision also comes against the background of EU sanctions imposed on Moscow this summer.

Earlier in November French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned Russia had not "met" the conditions for the delivery.

Russia, for its part, is determined to observe the terms of its contract, with Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov saying, "we are going to wait patiently."

Borisov also warned France would be facing penalties if it failed to fulfill its obligations.

Two Bulgarian and two local banks have been chosen to provide a bridge loan worth EUR 1.3 B, two sources have told Reuters.

The country has picked Citi, HSBC and local units of Societe Generale and Unicredit, the sources, reportedly familiar with the process, are quoted as saying on the condition of anonymity.

According to their estimates the four banks have been chosen to provide EUR 1.3 B.

This is exactly the sum (equal to BGN 2.54 B) that the Finance Ministry reported last week to be the total sum of offers received on a bridge loan that Bulgaria needs to amend the budget, without elaborating.

This time the Finance Ministry has declined to comment on the banks' names, the information continues.

Sofia needs a total of BGN 4.5 B (EUR 2.3 B) to deal with a billion-worth budget cap for this year and also with the aftermath of a decision to declare Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB) insolvent.

The fresh borrowing will boost Bulgaria's public debt to 28.4 percent of GDP compared to 18 percent in 2013.

Parliament allowed the country last week to negotiate on a foreign loan of up to BGN 3 B to cover the gap at the Bulgarian Deposit Insurance Fund (in charge of repaying deposits at KTB from December 4) and to tackle the shortfall in the income statement.

Turkey has begun preliminary talks with US-based Westinghouse Electric Company on the construction of a third nuclear plant in the country.

The news was announced in a Westinghouse statement.

Turkish state-owned Electricity Generation company (EÜAS) will be in charge of the talks which are due to go on for six months, Hürriyet Daily News quoted Turkish energy officials as saying.

Westinghouse said in its statement that, alongside development and construction, the project involves all live-cyle activities, including operations, nuclear fuel, maintenance, engineering, plant services and decommissioning.

Projects for two other NPP are to be carried out in Turkey. Construction of the first of them, the deal for which was sealed with Russia's Rosatom in 2011, is to kick off next year in the southern province of Mersin. The other one, envisaged to be in Sinop on the Black Sea coast, has been awarded to a Japanese-French consortium.

The Maritsa Iztok-2 Thermal Power Plant (TPP) is topping by far a European list of the continent's most pollutive industrial facilities, a report published Tuesday shows.

This is one position up compared to 2009, when Bulgaria's biggest TPP was second.

The ranking is about the size of pollution costs the heavy industry carries to citizens.

At the same time Bulgaria ranks seventh among European countries in terms of nominal value of overall pollution costs.

The total cost Europe's society pays for air pollution from Europe's largest industrial facilities amounted to up to EUR 189 B in 2012 alone.

According to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), half of the above-mentioned sum is generated by just a percent (147) of the 14 325 plants assessed between 2008 and 2012.

A report titled "Costs of air pollution from European industrial facilities - an updated assessment" provides an evaluation of harmful impacts caused by air pollution.

Twenty-six of the thirty facilities named individually within the report are power-generating facilities. Most of them are located either in Germany or in Eastern Europe.

Of these thirty, three facilities are in Bulgaria.

Short of assessing whether the emissions of a given facility are consistent with its legal requirements to operate, the report focuses on damage costs to health and the environment.

Bulgaria has been given the thumbs up to spend BGN 83 M co-financed by the European Commission on the construction of Sofia Tech Park, officials say.

Tuesday's approval from the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Competition comes after the money had remained frozen for months.

The move will enable Bulgaria's Economy Ministry to receive advanced payment which is to cover current costs.

First sods on Sofia Tech Park are now expected in December, with President Rosen Plevneliev to carry out the ceremony.

Contracts under the Sofia Tech Park project were signed as early as May this year.

Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski described the Commission's decision as positive.

"The procedure is a message to businesses that the scientific and technological park will become reality and we are waiting for the interest in the project to grow," Lukarski told reporters.

National financing of the project amounts to approximately BGN 15 M.

Climbing-wall manufacturer Walltopia, a world leader, has declared it will be the first private investor into Sofia Tech Park and is also expected to start construction of its Collider Activity Centre next month.

Sofia Tech Park is expected to be complete by end-2015 or the first weeks of 2016.

Global search giant Google is the best-known brand in Bulgaria, a yearly Top 20 ranking shows.

While the first five brands are international (Coca-Cola, Nescafe, OMV and Adidas come after Google), the sixth position is occupied by the Bulgarian private national channel bTV.

The 2014 ranking is also the first time when there are five Bulgarian brands in the shortlist, according to Superbrands, a global organization represented in eighty countries and dedicated to promoting those brands which dominate on a national market.

Alongside bTV, mineral water producer Devin, private TV channel NOVA, website Abv.bg and restaurant chain HAPPY are the other Bulgarian brands in the Top 20, ranking 7th, 11th, 12th and 17th respectively.

Bulgaria has been a Superbrands member since 2005.

More than 80 people have been arrested in the St Louis county, US, over burglary and trespassing in the last hours after a court ruling sparked unrest across the region.

Sixty-one of those detained were in Ferguson, where the teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson in August.

About a dozen buildings have burned down after being set ablaze by protesters, USA Today reports.

Wilson is presently on paid leave. Brown's family gave voice to their shock and anger at the court ruling not to take legal action against the officer.

Ferguson's population is mostly black (67.4% as of the 2010 census), but mainly white police officers are in charge of patrolling.

Many in the city's African-American community have demanded that the officer be charged with murder.

Calls have also been supported by thousands of people across the US, with protesters marching in a number of venues to vent their anger at the ruling.

But US President Barack Obama urged citizens late on Monday to accept the court's decision.  

Social Minister and Deputy PM for social policy Ivaylo Kalfin has announced he will join trade unions' calls and insist on increasing the minimum wage by BGN 40.

Kalfin declared Tuesday he considered freezing of minimum income to be dangerous for the economy.

In his words, he and his colleagues at the Council of Ministers were working to produce within days a final decision on how much the retirement age is to grow next year.

He described as a "bad decision" main ruling party GERB's idea to freeze the minimum wage.

"Fifteen months of deflation in Bulgaria means sluggish consumption and sluggish internal market. There is no way for all this not to reflect on the entire economy. One of the ways to tackle it is to push the income [up], and moreover the lowest income," the Bulgarian National Radio quoted Kalfin as saying.

On Monday one of the two biggest Bulgarian trade unions KNSB also demanded a hike in the minimum wage.

Employers, alongside the Finance Minister, however maintain such a move could hinder Bulgaria's fragile growth.

There are 255 000 depositors whose money in Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB) is guaranteed under the law, newly-appointed Deposits Insurance Fund Chairman Radoslav Milenkov has said.

Earlier this week the DIF officially announced the names of all nine banks which are to repay KTB deposits of up to BGN 196 000 within the next five years.

Milenkov told the Bulgarian National Radio that the total sum to be reimbursed to asset holders was roughly BGN 3.6 B.

He voiced his regret that KTB customers will be able to access their money only on workdays due to "technical reasons", despite the initial intention to have the banks open for that purpose on Saturday and Sunday at least during the first few weeks.

Milenkov called on depositors not to line up in huge queues rushing to the banks immediately after repayment starts December 4.

Withdrawal of the deposits will be levied, with BGN 3 paid for sums of up to BGN 3000, with the charge growing for bigger amounts.

First transactions to other financial companies (different from KTB, including the bank where the customer is having access to his/her money) will be free for any sum of up to BGN 10 000 and will cost BGN 12  for a sum going beyond.

The exchange rate used to repay deposits held in a currency other than BGN will be calculated as of December 4, regardless of when the customer chooses to operate with his money.

Depositors who have additional questions can use the DIF's website to find out more information or directly visit the FAQ page.

 

 

The promotion agency of reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko K2 has filed a lawsuit against Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev because of his allegations that the Ukrainian might be using drugs.

Pulev announced this at a meeting with Bulgarian media in Sofia earlier today.

In the months leading to their November 15 match, Pulev protested being subjected to rigorous drug testing, while Klitschko had been spared from it.

The Bulgarian repeatedly called his opponent to be tested on an equal footing, but the Ukrainian refused, leading to Pulev's accusations.

According to the Bulgarian, the lawsuit had been filed before the match, as part of the strategy to distract his attention.

This is one of the reasons for which Pulev continues to hold Klitschko in low regard.

The notorious case of 'Filip Zlatanov's notebook' is resulting in pressure being applied on the Prosecutor's Office from all sides, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said on Tuesday.

Tsatsarov's comments follow an evening of protests in front of the Sofia City Court building over the standstill to which the months-long case has been brought after the book, considered a key evidence, surprisingly disappeared earlier in November.

The notebook disappeared at a key stage of the trial in November and topped the news agenda in Bulgaria, with politicians whose names were mentioned in the notebook denying involvement.

Recent discussions have mainly referred to the initials "D.P." and many alleged controversial Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) Delyan Peevski was behind them. However, Tsatsarov explained on Tuesday they "do not belong to a certain person, but are rather representative of a certain type of governance and a mechanism currently in action."

In mid-July 2013, Bulgaria's prosecuting authority pressed charges of malfeasance in office against the ex-Chair of the Commission on Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest (CPACI), with Deputy Chief Prosecutor Borislav Sarafov citing excerpts from a "very interesting notebook" seized from Zlatanov's desk, indicating that he had received instructions about the progress of certain cases.

"Zlatanov complied with the instructions – to strike, to postpone, to delay, and even to conceal cases," Sarafov stated then, adding that the people mentioned in the notebook included Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, as well as E.D., MP of GERB, I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts.

The people behind the initials are believed to be Iskra Fidosova, formerly a leading figure in center-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and former Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Boyko Borisov, GERB leader and former Prime Minister, GERB Deputy Chairman and former Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and GERB MP Emil Dimitrov.

Borisov and Tsvetanov firmly denied involvement. But as for Fidosova, the scandal prompted her resignation as a lawmaker.

Zlatanov adamantly rejected reports that the notes in his infamous personal notebook were instructions for his work, adding that they had been his own ideas and remarks.

Asked to shed light on the scheme involving I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts. contained in his notebook, he said that he could not remember whom he had had in mind, adding that he had simply "jotted something down at a certain moment."

Zlatanov was removed from office in October 2013 and sentenced to 3.5 years of imprisonment. Zlatanov was charged with violating official duties, thereby eroding public trust in the activities of the CPACI as an independent authority.

According to the indictment, Zlatanov committed illegal activities in the probes against Rosen Plevneliev, his former advisor and former Deputy Chair of the Financial Supervision Committee Dimana Rankova, and former chief auditor of the Bulgarian National Audit Office Lidia Buneva.


In mid-July 2013, Bulgaria's prosecuting authority pressed charges of malfeasance in office against the Chair of CPACI, with Deputy Chief Prosecutor Borislav Sarafov citing excerpts from a "very interesting notebook" seized from Zlatanov's desk, indicating that he had received instructions about the progress of certain cases.

"Zlatanov complied with the instructions – to strike, to postpone, to delay, and even to conceal cases," Sarafov stated then, adding that the people mentioned in the notebook included Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, as well as E.D., MP of GERB, I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts.

The people behind the initials are believed to be Iskra Fidosova, a leading figure in center-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and former Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Boyko Borisov, GERB leader and former Prime Minister, GERB Deputy Chairman and former Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and GERB MP Emil Dimitrov.

Borisov and Tsvetanov firmly denied involvement.

The scandal led to Fidosova's resignation as lawmaker.

Zlatanov adamantly rejected reports that the notes in his infamous personal notebook were instructions for his work, adding that they had been his own ideas and remarks.

Asked to shed light on the scheme involving I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts. contained in his notebook, he said that he could not remember whom he had had in mind, adding that he had simply "jotted something down at a certain moment."

Zlatanov was removed from office in October 2013.

The Sofia City Court made clear that Zlatanov's notebook had not been part of the evidence.

Zlatanov was charged with violating official duties, thereby eroding public trust in the activities of the CPACI as an independent authority.

According to the indictment, Zlatanov committed illegal activities in the probes against Rosen Plevneliev, his former advisor and former Deputy Chair of the Financial Supervision Committee Dimana Rankova, and former chief auditor of the Bulgarian National Audit Office Lidia Buneva.

- See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/159489/Ex+Conflict+of+Interest+Commission+Chief+To+Spend+3.5+Years+in+Prison#sthash.384H0QlS.dpuf

In mid-July 2013, Bulgaria's prosecuting authority pressed charges of malfeasance in office against the Chair of CPACI, with Deputy Chief Prosecutor Borislav Sarafov citing excerpts from a "very interesting notebook" seized from Zlatanov's desk, indicating that he had received instructions about the progress of certain cases.

"Zlatanov complied with the instructions – to strike, to postpone, to delay, and even to conceal cases," Sarafov stated then, adding that the people mentioned in the notebook included Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, as well as E.D., MP of GERB, I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts.

The people behind the initials are believed to be Iskra Fidosova, a leading figure in center-right party Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and former Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Boyko Borisov, GERB leader and former Prime Minister, GERB Deputy Chairman and former Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and GERB MP Emil Dimitrov.

Borisov and Tsvetanov firmly denied involvement.

The scandal led to Fidosova's resignation as lawmaker.

Zlatanov adamantly rejected reports that the notes in his infamous personal notebook were instructions for his work, adding that they had been his own ideas and remarks.

Asked to shed light on the scheme involving I.F., B.B., and Ts. Ts. contained in his notebook, he said that he could not remember whom he had had in mind, adding that he had simply "jotted something down at a certain moment."

Zlatanov was removed from office in October 2013.

The Sofia City Court made clear that Zlatanov's notebook had not been part of the evidence.

Zlatanov was charged with violating official duties, thereby eroding public trust in the activities of the CPACI as an independent authority.

According to the indictment, Zlatanov committed illegal activities in the probes against Rosen Plevneliev, his former advisor and former Deputy Chair of the Financial Supervision Committee Dimana Rankova, and former chief auditor of the Bulgarian National Audit Office Lidia Buneva.

- See more at: http://www.novinite.com/articles/159489/Ex+Conflict+of+Interest+Commission+Chief+To+Spend+3.5+Years+in+Prison#sthash.384H0QlS.dpuf

Ukraine's Minister of Energy Yuriy Prodan announced on Monday that Russia had suspended coal supplies to Ukraine.

This is to bring additional harm to the energy policy of the country, which is already experiencing serious problems with the supply of coal due to the conflict in the Donbass region, where most of the coal reserves lie.

Earlier on November 12, Prodan said that the country will have to rely on Russian coal during the winter as the supplies from Eastern Ukraine have been disrupted by the ongoing conflict.

According to information received from DTEK and state-run Tsentrenergo coal supplies from Russia have been suspended.

Ukraine's largest private energy company DTEK said that the suspension of supplies was completely unexpected.

DTEK released a statement, in which it revealed that the company has not received official information on the delay of supplies, and was working towards establishing the reasons and circumstances of the present situation.

DTEK, owned by Ukrainian magnate Rinat Akhmetov, stated it has imported 1.3 million tonnes of coal since the beginning of August from Russia.

In order to meet its electricity needs, Ukraine has to import around 1 million tonnes of coal monthly.

The Ukrainian state has signed a contract to import coal from South Africa, but earlier this month the supplier halted the shipments due to the political instability in the country.

Coal is vital to Ukrainian economy, as the thermal power plants that provide around 40% of the country's electricity, run on it.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it has found that liquidity support granted by Bulgaria to First Investment Bank (FIB) was in line with EU state aid rules.

Bulgaria granted a five-month state deposit of BGN 1.2 B (EUR 600 M) to FIB following a bank run in June as part of a Bulgarian liquidity scheme approved by the Commission. The maturity of the deposit will expire on Friday.

Bulgaria has now applied for an extension of the state deposit of BGN 900 M by a maximum of 18 months, until 28 May 2016. Part of the deposit will be repaid within 12 months.

The Commission said in a statement it has found that the liquidity support for Bulgaria's third-largest bank was related to "the liquidity crisis that occurred in Bulgaria in June and July 2014, and was not due to a structural problem of the bank."

"Full repayment of the deposit now could destabilise both the bank and the Bulgarian financial system," the EU executive body explained.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, commented: "I believe that today's decision will strengthen public confidence in First Investment Bank. The bank presented a sound restructuring plan and a list of commitments, which will restore its liquidity and ensure its long-term viability without unduly distorting competition."

The United Nations refugee agency has launched an anti-xenophobia media campaign calling on Bulgarians to "see refugees through different eyes".

"The idea for this campaign, the most ambitious we have ever launched here, is to encourage people to see refugees for who they are – regular people who have fled horrific violence and persecution," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in Bulgaria Roland-François Weil said on unhcr.org.

The campaign featuring a TV spot, a social media spot and posters, is "trying to refocus the debate away from numbers of refugees and supposed threats, and rally moderate voices to be heard in the public debate," said Weil.

The Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will not demand the resignation of Deputy Defence Minister Orhan Ismailov, despite the ultimatum declared by the Patriotic Front (PF) for withdrawing their support for the coalition government.

In an interview for daily Presa, Borisov said that he is not going to succumb to the pressure of the Patriots and will not allow anyone to threaten the ethnic peace in the country.

The Prime Minister stated that the only thing worse than the lack of government was the presence of an ethnic conflict in the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of coalition policy Rumyana Bachvarova is to announce Borisov's position to the leadership of the PF.

It became clear yesterday that the scheduled meeting between Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and co-chairman of the PF Valeri Simeonov was postponed due to Simeonov's other commitments.

At the meeting Simeonov was to present to the Defence Minister the motives behind the demand for Ismailov's resignation.

Last week, the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), one of the parties constituting the PF, protested the appointment of Orhan Ismailov to the position of Deputy Minister of Defence.

NFSB accused Ismailov of his affiliation with the pro-Turkish Freedom and Dignity's People Party (NPSD), one of the parties constituting the Reformist Bloc (RB).

NFSB demanded the resignation of Ismailov, otherwise threatening to withdraw their support for the coalition government of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) and the RB.

However both representatives of the RB and the Defence Minister himself expressed their support for Ismailov, claiming that he should be judged solely on his professional merits, accusing NFSB of xenophobia.

The co-chairmen of the PF Valeri Simeonov and Krasimir Karakachanov were not content with Borisov's decision, having expected an official statement from the Prime Minister himself or one of his representative.

Simeonov assured that his personal position remained unchanged, namely withdrawal of support for the government and the governance programme.

In case the Patriots withdraw their support, Borisov will remain with the backing of 118 members of parliament (84 from GERB, 23 from the RB, and 11 from the Alternative for Bulgarian Revival).

In such scenario the government will rely on floating majority and thematic coalitions, its first serious test being the vote on the 2015 budget.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Democratic Centre, numbering 14 members of parliament, announced its readiness to support the coalition government.

Their only wish was for some of their priorities to be included in the governance programme.

Bulgaria's Prosecutor's Office and the National Security Agency (DANS) are conducting a special operation against radical ideologies in four Bulgarian cities, said the prosecution on its website.

The operation is part of an investigation for “propagation of fascist or other anti-democratic ideology or forceful change of the public and state order, provided in the Constitution” and “propagation of war”. Both violations, according to Bulgaria's Penal Code, are punishable by imprisonment or a fine.

Since the morning of November 25, gendarmerie and DANS officers searched 40 premises in Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Smolyan and Haskovo and seized “multiple evidence”, the statement says.

“Additional information will be given when it does not jeopardise the operation,” the statement said.

According to unofficial information of the Bulgarian-language media, the operation is against supporters of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation in Bulgaria.

As reported earlier on Tuesday, gendarmerie, police and DANS officers raided the Iztok Roma quarter in Pazardzhik, blocked and searched the mosque there and took away in a police car the local imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, who has a jail sentence for propagating anti-democratic ideology.

Bulgaria's traffic police will not pull over motorists for speeding and all contacts between drivers and police on the road will be filmed.

This are the two main measures against traffic police corruption, presented by Bulgaria's Interior Minister Veselin Vuchkov at a press conference on Tuesday in Sofia.

If necessary, in the future the motorists will be pulled over only by specially trained police officers and the contacts and exchanges between police and motorists will be filmed by a second police team, present at the scene.

“The public should not think that from today they can do whatever they want on the road,” Vuchkov told the media. “The traffic violations will be controlled by the speed cameras – 25 stationary and 148 mobile – and the tickets will be automatically issued and sent. The implementation of the speed cameras will solve 80% of the corruption among the traffic police.”

Another measure will be the installation of GPS tracking devices and microphones in all traffic police patrol cars.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini called for a restart in the relationship between the West and Russia.

In an interview for Austrian daily Kurier, Mogherini explained that Russia has a close relationship with the European Union (EU) and is very important in terms of the common European geography, history, culture, economy and energy policy.

Because of the above reasons, the High Representative stated that a restart in the relationship was needed.

Mogherini pointed out that Russia is a strategic country, but not a strategic partner at the moment.

Therefore, it will be of mutual benefit if the strategic partnership with Russia was reestablished.

According to the chief EU diplomat, the behaviour of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis was not that pertaining to a partner.

Mogherini expressed her opinion that Russia bears responsibility for security in the Eastern Ukraine.

The High Representative urged Russia not to view NATO with hostility and at the same time called the Alliance to treat Russia as a possible partner.

Mogherini concluded by saying that a return to the times of the Cold War was unthinkable.

Bulgaria's Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov expects a negative annual report on justice and internal affairs of the European Commission on Bulgaria.

Ivanov told the BNT public broadcaster breakfast show, that most likely the EC will conclude that Bulgaria “has lost direction in the judiciary reform and loses the trust of its international partners.”

Ivanov also said the report will most likely affect Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen area.

“We must bring back the trust that the country has a clear plan and direction and the responsibility is of all institutions,” Ivanov said.

In his words, it was necessary not only to change the laws, but to change the attitude of the institutions.

The State Agency for National Security (DANS) is carrying out an operation in the Roma quarter Iztok of Pazardzhik with the support of the Interior Ministry and under the supervision of the prosecution.

Official notice on the operation is lacking and no further information can be obtained from DANS.

According to the website of regional daily Maritsa, the operation is against suspected supporters of Islamic State (IS). The BNT public broadcaster also reported that the operation is against reported IS supporters.

The information for an anti-terrorist operation was also announced on private station bTV.

The Pazardzhik police said for dnevnik.bg that they have deployed forces in order to guard the operation of other institutions.

The quarter woke up surrounded by gendarmerie and children have not been allowed into schools. Reportedly, the mosque in Iztok is being searched. 

"Arrests will be made during the operation in Pazardzhik," Malina Aleksandrova, head of the public communications department of DANS told the BGNES wire service. She, however, refused to divulge any details, as the operation is still going on. 

According to Mediapool.bg, during the operation was arrested the local imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, who has an jail sentence for propagating anti-democratic ideology

Other media report that several other people, including a woman, wearing a burka, were also arrested.

 

Bulgaria's Interior Ministry will present on Tuesday new rules for the work of police officers, aiming to combat corruption, especially among traffic police.

The new rules will minimise the direct contact between the traffic police and the motorists. One of the ideas is to film each interaction between the police and the drivers.

The other is the return of the automated traffic cameras on the roads. They were outlawed by court last year.

The project was prompted by last week's leaking of video footage of a traffic police officer allegedly taking bribes in Sofia.

Violent protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday after demonstrators learned there would be no criminal indictment of police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Demonstrators taunted police, shattered windows and set fire to two St. Louis County police cars, looted and set ablzae businesses. Scattered, intermittent gunfire was also reported. Scores of police officers, armed with riot gear, dispersed a crowd of about 300 with volleys of tear gas, pepper spray and bean bags.

There were no official reports of arrests or injuries.

Monday's violence - reminiscent of the unrest that rocked this St. Louis suburb for several days following Brown's death last summer - came despite efforts by Brown's family, civil rights activists local and state authorities and President Obama to tamp down chaos and anger in the wake of the grand jury's findings. "There's never an excuse for violence,'' said Obama.

According to media reports, there were protests against the court decision and police violence in other US cities as well.

Bulgaria's Finance Ministry will present a report on the draft budget for 2015 and forecasts for 2016-2017 to the parliamentary budget committee.

The deadline for presenting the report expired on October 31, but due to the early elections, it was postponed.

According to media reports, the draft budget includes 1% GDP growth, deficit below 3% of Bulgaria's GDP and inflation between 1.1 and 1.8%.

Also on Tuesday Parliament will discuss the 2014 budget update at second reading.








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