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The British government on Monday gave Northern Ireland's squabbling parties extra time to reach a deal to end their stalemate and form a power-sharing executive, after a deadline to do so expired, AFP reported.

"We now have a short window of opportunity," Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire said in Belfast, adding that the parties had "a short few weeks".

''New early elections in Bulgaria during this or the next year would have serious political consequences'', commented political scientist Prof Antoniy Galabov, according to Focus News.

“The first opportunity for such a scenario to happen without it having a devastating effect for the country is during the autumn of next year, and this is so not only because of Bulgaria’s EU presidency, but mostly because of the agenda of the Bulgarian society itself,” Professor Antoniy Galabov commented.

According to him, it currently important to achieve a reasonable framework for a coalition agreement, a format in which the governing of the country could increase its efficiency. 

He also said that coalition agreement is especially important during the current 5-party parliament, as it would outline the zones of disagreement, but also the borders of this majority

45 citizens of third countries were detained at the Bulgarian border between 24 and 27 March 2017, the press centre of Chief Directorate Border Police announced.

The situation at the state border of the Republic of Bulgaria is for the period from 06:00 Bulgarian time on March 24 until 06:00 Bulgarian time on March 27, 2017. 8 persons attempting to enter the country on the Bulgarian-Turkish green borders were caught.

A total of 37 people were detained while attempting to illegally leave the country, out of which 36 at the green border (33 on the Bulgarian-Serbian, and 3 on the Bulgarian-Turkish border), and 1 person at a border checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Serbian border.

Due to imposed coercive measures and fake documents, 20 foreign nationals were prohibited from entering the country at border checkpoints, while 23 Bulgarian citizens, 1 EU citizen, and 1 foreign national were prohibited to leave the country

Voting of Turkish citizens abroad in the referendum for constitutional amendments on April 16 started on Monday.

Voting sections have been opened at Turkey’s border cross checkpoints and in Europe, at airports and ports.

A voting section has also been opened at Kapıkule at the border with Bulgaria. The first voters have already exercised their right to vote, reported the Turkish Central Election Commission.

Voting sections for Turkish citizens abroad have been opened at a total of 31 border cross checkpoints. The voting sections are open 24 hours and will finish operating at the end of the election day.

It is expected that a lot of Turkish citizens from European countries will use their leave not in the summer but in April in order to vote in the referendum due to which intense traffic is expected at the borders with Bulgaria.

According to the Central Election Commission, there are about 3 million Turkish voters abroad. Sections will be opened at diplomatic mission in 57 countries including Bulgaria.

A few hours after the first official results from the snap parliamentary elections became known, TV show host Slavi Trifonov threatened the new Parliament with protests unless, in two weeks, it starts working on amendments to the Electoral Code related to the referendum initiated by his team on mandatory voting, a majoritarian system and reduction of party subsidies.

“If, in two weeks, you do not start working on this issue, at the beginning of the third week, I will come to the building of Parliament in order to seek my civil rights,” wrote Trifonov in an open letter circulated to the media.

The referendum was held on November 6, together with the first round of the presidential elections, but it did not collect a sufficient number of votes in order to become compulsory.

Some of the parties, including the winner of the snap elections GERB, stated, however, that the opinion of nearly 3.5 million citizens who participated in the referendum must be respected and the Electoral Code must be amended.

Corruption, social inequality, xenophobia and hatred of foreigners on the one hand and, on the other hand, pressure, rudeness and obstacles against Turks with dual citizenship who wanted to go to Bulgaria in order to vote there, wrote the online edition Haberler and added that there was tension, discontent and scandals due to the insufficient number of voting sections in Turkey.

A policy of obstacles and obstruction, commented Hürriyet on the reduction of the number of voting sections for voters in Turkey from 141 in the past to 35 now.

“The most difficult vote for Bulgarian Turks,” read the headline of Doğan agency, stating that several names were erased from the lists on purpose in order to prevent these people from voting.

“DPS lost its monopoly on the votes of Turks,” read another Doğan headline, which writes that, for the first time, DPS drops from being a significant political force from third place to fourth according to unofficial results.

The Anadolu State Agency points out the requirement for a Cyrillic alphabet as the reason for the discontent and the long queues.

“CEC’s order, which came at the last minute, for filling in the declarations in Cyrillic is the main reason for the long queues, the discount and people fainting while waiting to vote,” reported Dunya.

The headline itself read: “The Incredible Trick with the Cyrillic Alphabet”.

Milliyet newspaper notes that DPS’ rival – DOST has not crossed the 4% threshold and remains out of Parliament according to unofficial results.

It is being claimed that a lot of obstacles were placed in the way of the coalition which runs in elections for the first time, added Milliyet.

 

President Donald Trump has handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill for USD 375 B owed by Germany to NATO, reported Sunday Times, cited by TASS.

A minister in the government told the newspaper that, at the recent meeting between the two leaders in the White House, Merkel was strongly surprised to learn that Germany owes this amount to the alliance for the guarantees it gives for Germany’s security.

Trump insists that every NATO member-state fulfil its obligation and set aside at least 2% of GDP for defence.

If Germany fulfils this requirement now, it will spend more than Russia for military purposes.

At present, Germany allocates 1.2% of GDP for defence, or EUR 37 B. At 2% of GDP, defence expenses will exceed EUR 60 B.

 

At nearly 100% of processed protocols from voting sections, five political parties will enter the 44th Parliament, while GEB is again the leading political force.

After the Central Election Commission (CEC) announces the official results of the snap elections for parliamentary deputies, the deadline for which is March 30, it is President Rumen Radev’s move.

Before he hands the first exploratory mandate for the forming of a government, a new Parliament must be constituted and there must be consultations at the Presidency with the formations represented in Parliament.

For now, it is expected that GERB will hold talks with other parties on the governing coalition. During the election campaign, BSP and DPS were described as impossible partners.

After the end of the elections, BSP announced that they will not participate in a government of Boyko Borisov, but they will try to form their own cabinet if GERB does not succeed.
On Monday, Volya’s leader Veselin Mareshki demanded ministerial posts.

President Radev can wait for GERB’s consultations or he can invite formations represented in Parliament to a meeting at the Presidency in order to agree on a date for the constituting of a new Parliament.

Also, after CEC announces the official results, the head of state can sign a decree on the first meeting of the 44th Parliament and, only after that, start consultations with parties on the handing of exploratory mandates for the forming of a government.

The Constitution does not set a deadline for Rumen Radev to hand the first mandate to GERB. The candidate for PM nominated by the parliamentary group of Borisov’s party, however, must return the mandate either fulfilled or unfulfilled within seven days after receiving it.

Should the exploratory mandate be returned unfulfilled, the candidate for PM of BSP will receive the second mandate. The deadline for executing it or returning it is seven days as well.

If the second mandate is also unsuccessful, the president may hand a third one to a political force of his choice.

 

Only one of the parties which do not enter Parliament – Vazrazhdane (Revival) has a result of over 1% (1.08%) and will receive a party subsidy according to data of the Central Election Commission at 98.50% processed protocols.

All the rest which received subsidies until now participate in coalitions and will have to part with real estate provided for them by the state as well.

Coalitions have the right to a subsidy and real estate only if they enter Parliament. The list of losers includes SDS, DSB and DBG, which were part of the Reformist Bloc, and ABV which were in Parliament.

Movement 21 and Glas Naroden had more than 1% in the last elections but now they are part of coalitions.

The chairman of Vazrazhdane is the municipal councillor in Varna and director of the regional History Museum in Dobrich Kostadin Kostadinov.

He was Deputy Chairman of VMRO.

Volya’s leader Veselin Mareshki has stated at a special press conference on Monday that he would not simply support a government but he would participate in such a government with ministerial positions.

Mareshki underlined that he would not play the role of the Patriotic Front in the last Parliament when the party supported the government but did not participate in the cabinet with personalities.

The arguments of the Varna businessman were that he wants to take responsibility for his actions.

“We either enter and take part or we will be the corrective, the spotlight which will illuminate whether others who had different promises continue to keep these.”
According to Mareshki, the party would hold negotiations on the future cabinet only if an agreement is reached that its two priorities will be adhered to – a stable and strong government and measures against the demographic crisis.

When asked which ministry would satisfy him, Mareshki answered – the PM’s one.

Mareshki said that he has always participated in races in his life that he knows he will win.

“Everyone knows that, sooner or later, I will be number 1,” stated Mareshki and added that the results from these elections are merely the first step in the direction of this aim. And this is merely the first step because it is very important who is counting the votes.

Mareshki said that the lawyers of the party are drafting an appeal against the future decision of CEC via which the official results of the vote on Sunday will be announced.

The reason is that they have doubts that about 100,000 ballots for Volya have been annulled after having been cast

 

The candidate for president of France Marine Le Pen has stated that the European Union will die and that globalists will be defeated.

At an election meeting in Lille, she accused her rivals in the elections – Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon of betrayal because of their political platforms in support of the EU and market economy.

The presidential elections in France will set the beginning of the next phase of the global rebellion of people after Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump in the USA, predicted Le Pen.

The Central Election commission published at 12:45 hrs on March 27 the results from 99.98% of protocols from section electoral commissions processed by regional electoral commissions.

According to CEC, parties, coalitions and independent candidates have the following results:

GERB – 32.66%

BSP – 27.19%

United Patriots – NFSB, Ataka, VMRO – 8.99%

DPS – 9.07%

Volya – 4.15%

The rest of the participants have results lower than the required 4% threshold.

Radan Kanev has resigned as leader of the coalition New Republic. He will do the same as leader of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) later on Monday afternoon.

The politician stated that he is resigning not only because of New Republic’s weak result but also so that the right-wing may get united in the near future. Kanev pointed out that he considers himself to be an obstacle to such unification.

The leader of New Republic stated that he regrets the fact that they did not unite with Yes, Bulgaria because, if this had been the case, their result would have been much better even than the mathematical sum of the result which the two formations received in the elections.

Kanev believes that the next government will have political comfort but he is sceptical about them passing radical reforms.

 

Albania’s government has made public the files of the sinister Directorate of State Security Sigurimi from the time ofthe communist dictator Enver Hoxha, reported BGNES.

There are millions of documents collected in tens of thousands of files of people persecuted by the regime.

During the rule of Hoxha, over 100,000 people were arrested and thrown into camps.

Official data points to over 100,000 political prisoners and 6,000 people killed. The authorities in Tirana are making public Sigurimi’s files 25 years after the fall of the communist regime.

“This evil has to be uprooted from Albanian society. This is how appendicitis is removed. This is a severe but beneficial surgical intervention,” stated Albanian writer Ismail Kadare.

The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha ruled Albania from 1945 until his death in 1985 and turned the country in the most isolated country in the world.

 

The Central Elections Commission has announced the results from the elections according to regions with processed protocols on the spot at nearly 100%, reported BGNES.

BSP won in six regions – Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo, Dobrich, Montana, Pleven, Yambol.

DPS won in Targovishte, Razgrad and Kardzhali.

GERB won in the remaining 21 regions.

Abroad, at 100% processed protocols, GERB won 24.45%, DOST – 17.49%, BSP – 12.54%, DPS – 12.05%, the Greens – 10.19%, the United Patriots – 7.11%.

 

Bulgaria’s centre-right party won yesterday’s parliamentary elections, winning a victory over an opposition which is trying to direct the country, a member of the EU, towards a rapprochement with Russia. Politicians who are worried by Russian influence in Eastern Europe applauded the unofficial results as a rejection of this view, wrote The Wall Street Journal.

Bulgaria’s elections were followed closely in order to gain an idea as to what extent public opinion in Eastern Europe views favourably the normalisation of ties with Russia which has had sanctions imposed on it due to the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, noted the daily and reminded readers of the cultural and historical ties between Bulgaria and Russia.

The Wall Street Journal points out that, lately, political shifts of layers are being observed in Bulgaria and notes that yesterday’s elections were the third elections in the last four years. Parties which want closer ties with the EU were fragmented, while nationalists, angered by the influx of migrants through Bulgaria on their way to wealthier European countries, multiplied their seats in Parliament.

Politicians who declared themselves for a less aggressive position on the issue of Russia marked an ascent, in particular President Rumen Radev.

A victory for the Socialists who supported Radev for president would mean a huge geopolitical change for Europe. Bulgaria is turning into a more and more strategic country for the EU because of its border with Turkey, along which there is now a fence, so that migrants are prevented from entering Europe illegally. In January next year, Bulgaria will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, emphasised the newspaper, cited by BTA.

In spite of being defeated, however, the Socialists made the ruling party GERB assume a stance closer to Russia. During the campaign, GERB’s leaders promised on several occasions an improvement in relations with both Washington and Moscow, wrote The Wall Street Journal.

The twenty largest European banks declare a quarter of their profits in tax haven zones, preferring Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Ireland, reported BGNES.

This was shown in a survey of the British non-governmental organisation Oxfam, published on Monday and cited by AFP.

These banks “declare 26% of their profits in tax havens, or EUR 25 B in 2015, but only 12% of their turnover and 7% of their employees,” which is “a flagrant omission”, according to Oxfam.

The same financial institutions declare “a total of EUR 628 M in tax havens where they do not have a single employee.”

This “abuse of tax havens” could allow banks to “move their profits artificially in order to reduce their taxes, facilitate tax evasion for their clients and circumvent their stipulated obligations,” added Oxfam.

The international non-governmental organisation Amnesty International has called on Turkey’s government to stop its repressions against the media and to release jailed journalists in the country, reported Voice of America, cited by Focus agency.

“At the moment, Turkey is jailing more journalists than any other country. One-third of all jailed journalists in the world are being held in Turkey,” stated an announcement by the organisation.

“These repressions must end. Journalists must be allowed to do their job because journalism is not a crime,” added Amnesty International.

 

The Central Election commission published data at 10:00 hrs on March 27 with 98.50% of the protocols of section electoral commissions having been processed by regional electoral commissions.

According to CEC data, parties, coalitions and independent candidates have the following results:

GERB – 32.64%

BSP – 27.12%

United Patriots – NFSB, Ataka, VMRO - 9.06%

DPS – 9.04%

Volya – 4.15%

The rest of the participants have results lower than the 4% threshold. 

91 pre-trial proceedings for violations of the voting rights of citizens have been initiated in the country during the snap elections for the 44th Parliament, announced the Prosecutor’s Office.

The greatest number of pre-trial proceedings have been initiated in Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia and Varna.

Nine signals have been submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the National Audit Office. Nearly 800 files have been created.

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GERB shows a result of 24.50% of the votes of Bulgarians outside the country.

The second position is for DOST – 17.38%, followed by the BSP – 12.76%, The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) with 11.98%.

Yes, Bulgaria receives the support of 10.04% of Bulgarian nationals abroad, while the result of the United Patriots is 7.18%.

These are the figures from 98.65 percent of section protocols from the vote abroad.

The leader of Volya ("Will") Veselin Mareshki announced for Nova TV that  firstly they would have talks with the "United patriots" and then will have  talks with GERB. He added that currently the real governance seems to be in the right political spectrum. In his words Volya is ready to support GERB, but only under certain conditions.

''So far I have not heard  anybody from the political parties. We will wait for the results and then we will expect a call from them. If it is depending on us, we will place conditions that are good for the country'', said Mareshki

The European Union urged Russia "to release without delay" what it said in a statement were "peaceful demonstrators" detained a day earlier during nationwide protests against corruption, AFP reported. 

On Sunday Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been arrested at an anti-corruption protest he organised in the capital, Moscow, BBC reports.

Thousands of people joined rallies nationwide, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.

At least 500 other protesters were detained in the capital and across the country.

Most of the marches were illegal, organised without official permission.

The Bulgarian Actors Union is organizing on Monday its annual ceremony for bestowing the "IKAR" awards on the occasion of the International Day of Theater.

The ceremony, which in 2017 is dedicated to several anniversaries this time will be held under the dome of the circus "Balkan" in the new park "Vuzrajdane", announced the organizers of the event.

120 years Bulgarian circus art, 95 years of the Bulgarian Actors Union, and celebrating the 95th birthday of the actress Stoyanka Mutafova - these are the three main anniversaries to be honored with this year's "IKAR".

The awards include best director, leading male and female role, supporting roles, overall contribution, director's debut, actor's debut, puppets' mastership, music, theater marketing and management, and others.

The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962.

The Central Electoral Commission announces that according to the results from the processed 89.73% of the protocols from the section election commissions, the new Bulgarian parliament will consist of 5 political forces.

GERB won 32.58% of the votes.

Coalition "BSP for Bulgaria" - 26.82%.

Coalition "United Patriots - NFSB, attack and VMRO" - 9,17%.

DPS - 8.93%, and the party "Will" - 4.11%.

Below the 4% threshold to enter parliament are Coalition "Yes, Bulgaria" (Greens DEOS) with 3.06%.

Coalition "Reformist bloc - People's Voice" with 3.02%, quite by 3.00%, "New Republic" 2.59 %.

The former prime minister of Bulgaria verged on retaking power Sunday as his center-right party held a narrow lead in a contested election, a sign that Bulgarians still see their future lying with the EU, according to New York Times.

While official results were not expected until Monday, it appeared that the former leader, Boyko Borisov, would form a new government in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member, probably in a coalition with an alliance of smaller right-wing nationalist parties.

The Socialists, who had advocated stronger ties with Russia and had vowed to block a renewal of European Union sanctions against the Kremlin, could not convince enough voters that they were the better alternative and conceded defeat.

The result appeared to be a disappointment for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has sought to exploit divisions in the European Union to strengthen Russia’s influence — particularly in a country like Bulgaria, which was one of the Soviet Union’s closest allies.

''Bulgarians chose to play it safe and bring Gerb back to power, betting on their future in the European Union,” said Genoveva Petrova, the executive director of Alpha Research, a Sofia-based pollster. “The Socialists failed to convince people that they could be an agent of change.”

He pledged to quickly start talks to create a coalition government, but did not elaborate about the potential partners before the official election results.

The co-chairman of the Coalition “United Patriots – NFSB, VMRO and Ataka” – Valeri Simeonov voiced dissatisfaction with the results the formation obtains and admitted that he expected them to be higher, according to BNR.

Meanwhile the politician said he is satisfied with the fact that through the protest actions along the border with Turkey, the Patriots succeeded to prevent quite a number of buses of voters to enter Bulgaria from Turkey. However, he refused to comment whether these protests have increased or reduced the election results of the formation.

We are ready to negotiate with all Bulgarian parties, because life itself and the expectations of the people impose the need of unification. We are people of dialogue and we are capable of reaching consensus. We enter all kinds of negotiations with good will, Simeonov further pointed out.

The upcoming talks between Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday are extremely important for Serbia, the Serbian premier told the Radio Television of Serbia public broadcaster, TASS agency reports.

"The meeting with the Russian president is of exceptional political, economic and any other significance for Serbia. Frequent meetings with the Russian leaders show that we have good relations and are developing them. We try to find new models, new ways, new regime to establish advanced forms of cooperation," said Vucic for whom Monday’s meeting with the Russian leader will be the tenth one.

Our hope that the Reformist Bloc and Glas Naroden will be part of the next Parliament is real. We have reached a point where 100 votes could take out or hold our political union in Parliament, stated the spokesperson of the Bloc to BNR.

Obviously, we have not learned our lessons; the right-wing has to start again to formulate its aims in a different way:

“Because if we enter Parliament with 11 deputies, as opposed to 30, as we could have done if all of us were together, this will categorically put us in a weaker position. The fabric of the right-wing, the true reformist community must be rearranged and preserved. The division along ambition lines – ‘mine, other people’s, or still other people’s led to this result,” said Moskov.



 

We from DPS hope that GERB have learned their lessons from their two unfinished mandates because, in the last few years, we had three cabinets which resigned and we had to hold snap elections three times, stated DPS leader Mustafa Karadayi at a briefing of the party commenting on the election results.

“In our opinion, we have made an estimate of these processes several times – the problem in the formula for creating a majority in Parliament. From the current point of view, we would confirm that it is very important now to have stability and security in Bulgaria.”

“DPS has always defended and will always defend the independence of the Bulgarian political system and the participants in that system. We can make further comments when we discuss other topics. We are not at a press conference for elections,” said Karadayi.

BSP’s leader Korneliya Ninova has made a statement to the media at the headquarters of the party at 20 Positano St.

It was announced beforehand that she will not answer any questions. Her argument is the same as Boyko Borisov’s – there are no official results yet.

Ninova confirmed that her party will not take part in negotiations with GERB on a governing coalition, if it is invited, because the programmes of the two political parties are too different and there is no ground for common actions.

At the same time, she pointed out that if the party ranking first after the snap elections does not manage to form a cabinet and the government mandate is handed to BSP, the left-wing party is ready to make an attempt to form a government.

The coalition United Patriots and Reformist Bloc – Glas Naroden will not speak out on Sunday evening.

Their press conferences will be held on Monday.

Of all parties expected to enter Parliament, only DPS have to make a statement

The leader of Volya, Varna businessman Veselin Mareshki has announced that they will enter negotiations for the forming of a government with that political party or those parties which will include the priorities of the movement – the fight against cartels and the fulfilment of the potential of young people in Bulgaria, stated Mareshki on bTV.

Later on, on Nova TV, Mareshki said that they will support a GERB government and that their representatives could help in the Economy Ministry.

Mareshki denied the option of becoming a minister of any kind.

Minutes later, on BNT, Mareshki said only that they are willing to hold negotiations.

“Regardless of whether we are in the government, which would mean that someone has accepted our basic tenets, or not, we will be the spotlight that will illuminate all vicious practices.”

“There are no people among us that can be scared or bought. You will be witnesses to the wisdom and beauty which we will introduce to Parliament.”

According to him, the campaign cost him BGN 200,000 – 300,000 and was “the most simple campaign in the history of Bulgaria”, while Volya was the party most attacked by slanderous news.

For a long time, we have had a dignified opponent. For a long time, it has been difficult for us in elections, stated former PM Boyko Borisov and congratulated the chairwoman of BSP Korneliya Ninova on “a serious manly battle”

“The result at this moment is categorical. A few months ago, there were doubts and appeals for ‘Resignation’ in Parliament. We did the moral thing. We resigned and we counted ourselves. The result confirmed that GERB should be the leading party in government. The result shows that GERB has to form a government, taking into account all the mistakes and the unreasonable compromises that we have made. Any other decision will take us back to the time of Oresharski.

The situation is so complicated that, as of tomorrow, it has to be done in such a way that the nation becomes united. And I will make all the efforts.”

In calm talks, I hope that a new government is quickly formed, expressed hope Borisov and promised consultations on the new cabinet as soon as possible.

Bulgarians are voting for snap, contentious parliamentary elections which are a test of their loyalty to their partners in the European Union, reported Reuters.

Contenders leading in popularity promise to continue Euro Atlantc policy or improve relations with Russia – even at the price of disappointing leading countries in the EU and creating another problem in Europe after Brexit.

The change in the government in Sofia may come several months before the country assumes the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, 2018.

“If Bulgaria begins to refuse to participate in several integration policies of the EU by pointing out specific interests and privileged relations with Russia, this will not only push it to Europe’s periphery but into another orbit altogether,” stated Boryana Dimitrova, a sociologist with Alpha Research.

Commenting on the latest forecast of the sociological agency, she said that forming the new Parliament will be very, very difficult.

While reminding that the country is the poorest member of the EU and with widespread corruption ten years after joining the bloc, Reuters adds that Bulgaria remains a popular destination for hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists. Not only tourism but energy are strongly dependent on Russia, adds the agency.

Leading parties propose sticking to fiscal discipline or a quick increase in wages and pensions via increasing public spending.

But, given the fact that none of them can win independently in order to govern by itself, they will have to look for coalition partners, including parties encouraging xenophobia and nationalism, added Reuters.


Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been arrested at an anti-corruption rally organised in Russia’s capital Moscow, reported BBC.

There are anti-corruption protest demonstrations all over Russia on Sunday demanding the resignation of PM Dmitry Medvedev because of corruption accusations. Thousands of people are participating in the protests.

Most of the demonstrations were not permitted by the authorities. In Moscow, a large number of policemen have been deployed in the streets and tens of protesters have been arrested.

TV reports show demonstrators holding banners “Down With Putin”, “Russia Without Putin”, “Putin Is a Thief”


GERB has won the snap parliamentary elections with 5% of the votes ahead of the second largest political formation BSP.

The 44th Parliament will include six formations, while the coalition Reformist Bloc – Glas Naroden is on the verge of the 4% threshold, showed data of sociological agency Alpha Research based on exit poll surveys at voting sections.

The party of former PM Boyko Borisov has won 32.3% of the votes cast on Sunday, while BSP received 28.0% of the votes..

DPS ranks third with 9.7%, followed by the United Patriots with 9.5%, Volya with 5.1%, the coalition Reformist Bloc – Glas Naroden – 4%.

The result of the coalition Reformist Bloc – Glas Naroden is on the verge of statistical error, so it is not clear yet whether it will participate in the new Parliament.
According to the forecast, the coalition Yes, Bulgaria is under the threshold of 4% for entering Parliament with 2.9%, followed by New Republic with 2.6%, the coalition ABV – Movement 21 with 2.4% and DOST – 2.7%, others 0 0.9%.

2.9% of the voters voted “I do not support anyone”.

On the basis of the results received, sociologists forecast the following number of mandates in Parliament:

GERB – 86-88

BSP – 75-77

DPS – 25-27

United Patriots – 25-27

Volya – 13-15

Reformist Bloc – 10-11

Data of Gallup International Balkan shows a Parliament of five formations. According to the agency, the Reformist Bloc does not cross the threshold and only has 3.8% of the votes.

Nearly 75,000 Bulgarians living abroad have voted in the snap elections by 17:00 hrs, announced the Foreign Ministry, cited by focus Agency. Nearly 23,700 voted in Turkey.

In Great Britain, with the second highest number of declarations, over 10,000 people voted.

So far, there are no reports of queues or voting violations there.

 

 

GERB has won the snap parliamentary elections for the 44th Parliament with 32.8% ahead of its main opponent BSP – 28.4%, reported BGNES, citing exit poll data.

The new Parliament will also include the United Patriots – 8.8%, DPS – 7.7%, Volya – 4.6%. The Reformist Bloc is on the verge – 3.8%.

New Republic, DOST, Yes, Bulgaria, ABV and Movement 21 will not enter the new Parliament.

 

 

Five Bulgarians have been injured in a bus crash in Hungary earlier on Sunday morning, reported Focus Agency, citing information of the Foreign Ministry.

According to the embassy in Budapest, the incident occurred at about 05:00 hrs. The bus is owned by a Bulgarian company.

The injured Bulgarian citizens have been admitted to hospital and their condition is not serious.

The Hungarian police are investigating the incident and the reason for the crash. According to initial information, the bus swerved off the road and fell in a ditch.

The incident happened along the M5 highway in the direction of Szeged.

There is no information that another vehicle was involved.

The election process in Bursa is going very slowly and a lot of people there will not be able to vote, stated for BNR Kaloyan Stoev, an observer from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC).

“As a whole, the election process is going very slowly. People are getting upset, at some places, there is no organisation at all as to how they should wait in line. There are crowds; people are literally being pushed out of the rooms. All of this hinders the electoral process tremendously. According to my calculations, about 50 people per hour get to vote which is very few given the huge number of voters. The new requirement of the Central Election Commission for voters who are not listed in the election lists to fill in and sign declarations in the rooms themselves hinders voters and the whole process slows down. Tension is incredible. People have been waiting since 7 am and have still not managed to vote. It appears a lot of people will not be able to exercise their right to vote.”

 

About 6 sanctions will be handed to media for publishing election results before the end of election day at 20:00 hrs on Sunday, announced at a briefing the spokesperson of CEC Alexander Andreev, cited by Focus agency.

The penalty fee is between BGN 2,000 and BGN 5,000, and up to BGN 10,000 if the violation is repeated.

According to Andreev, the latest data shows that 13 816 people have voted in Turkey, 3,256 in the UK, 3,296 in Germany, 1,410 in Greece, 1,672 in Spain and 1,138 in France.

Voting was halted temporarily in one of the voting sections in Bursa after a complaint was filed that there are too many voters there.

According to another signal to CEC, voters from Turkey arrived on a bus in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis with the intention of voting there.

 

The chairman of GERB Boyko Borisov has stated that he is voting for a unified Bulgaria.

“For a stable, predictable, unified Bulgaria because tomorrow we have to be unified as a nation. Today, I will limit myself to wishing everyone success, to exercise our right to vote and, most importantly, for the people to be unified as of tomorrow. This is my dream! Problems at the border and beyond it are so severe so that today can pass and, as of tomorrow, the nation to stand as one man. I think that we, Bulgarians, are like that – when they underestimate us, it is the best. We will talk a lot about Turkey in the next few days, a lot of things have to be done by Europe and by Turkey – compromises must be made as well in order to maintain peace and calm. Such a tone of voice and such actions are fatal for Bulgaria. They are big countries; we are at the border.”

Voting activity stood at 42.74% at 17:00 hrs, announced the Central Election Commission.

So far, voting activity is highest in Sofia Region.

By 17:00 hrs, 2,910, 601 had voted.

CEC has received a total of 67 signals about violations.

Election day ends at 20:00 hrs and it could be extended until 21:00 hrs if there are still voters in front of the voting sections.

6,810,341 Bulgarians have the right to vote.

There are queues and tension during the snap elections in voting sections in Turkey.

In Bursa, where there are traditionally a huge number of people wishing to vote, the eelction process was halted for about ten minutes when voters burst into the building.

About 50 people waiting to vote in front of the school were put on a bus and taken to a different voting location where the queue was smaller.

Earlier on Sunday morning, the policeman who tried to maintain order was toppled to the ground by people trying to get inside, reported Nova TV.

People started queueing up in front of voting sections in Bursa early in the morning. Voting takes place very slowly – about 15 people per hour, reported bTV.

It takes time to fill in the declarations stating that the voter is voting with his current address, not his permanent one. According to CEC’s instructions, the declarations are handled manually after the voter signs the declaration in front of members of CEC.

The Chairman of the organisation of Bulgarian outmigrants Bal-Göç Yüksel Özkan called on the people present to remain calm and not give in to provocations.

Özkan expressed his dissatisfaction with CEC’s decision for voting declarations to be filled in in the voting sections in Bulgarian. According to him, this is the reason for the long queues and the serious tension among voters.

“The members of the electoral commissions who arrive from Bulgaria are treating people like bodyguards. I adamantly reject this discriminatory policy. We are shocked by yesterday’s decision for the declarations to be filled in in the rooms where the urns are located. This is unacceptable and worried voters. This caused several arguments and scandals between them and the members of the commissions from Bulgaria.”

Slightly over 100 people had voted in the Consulate in Bursa by noon.

In previous years, over 1,000 people voted on a single election day. Expectations today are for that number not to exceed 500.

The building of the former pop-folk disco Sin City in Sofia is on fire, reported BGNES.

There is dense smoke coming out of the building located at Vazrazhdane Square. There are no reports of injured people.

Traffic in the area has been halted. Only trams are being let through.

There are three firefighter engines at the site.

After January 1, 2016, the pop-folk disco closed down. At the end of 2015, hotelier and owner of the building Krasimir Georgiev shared his intention to build a new, five-star hotel at the site of Sin City.

Voting activity by 13:00 hrs was 25.31%, announced the Central Election Commission (CEC).

The highest voting activity was reported for Sofia Region – 31.37%. The least number of people voted in the 24th constituency in Sofia – about 20%. A total of 1, 723,555 had voted by 13:00 hrs.

Voting activity is about 2% higher, compared to the data for the parliamentary elections in 2014.

44 complaints and signals have been submitted to CEC.

“13 of those are about violations in the organisation of the work of the section electoral commission, violations related to exercising the right to vote, election agitation,” stated CEC’s spokesperson Kameliya Neykova.

Bulgarians abroad continue to vote in 371 voting sections in 70 countries.

Voting activity in Turkey is similar to that during the presidential elections in November 2016. 7,000 have voted in the regions of Bursa, Yalova, Kodzhaeli and Istanbul. This is the latest data on voting activity by 13:00 hrs, announced the Bulgarian General Consulate.

The most votes were registered in sections in Istanbul – 4,000 and over 2,000 people have voted in Bursa.

There is significant voting activity in Dimitrovgrad, Serbia. Not only local people vote in the city populated mostly by ethnic Bulgarians but also visitors on holiday in the region.

There is the usual, high voting activity in Great Britain. According to available data, about 4,000 people had voted by 13:30hrs Bulgarian time in the 58 voting sections in the UK. There are no reports of violations.

There are 13 voting sections in 8 locations in Germany. Despite a record-high number of voting declarations submitted, no additional voting sections were opened due to the refusal of German authorities. Over 300 people had voted by 12:00 hrs in the three sections in the General Consulate in Munich. There are no queues. Voting takes a few minutes.

By 13:00 hrs, over 3,500 people had voted in Spain – 2,230 in Madrid and 1,250 in the 11 sections in the region of Valencia.

Election day is progressing normally in the Czech Republic – there are no queues. Bulgarians can vote at two sections – in Prague and in Brno. By 14:00 hrs local time, more than 430 people had voted in the Czech capital.

There is high voting activity in Cyprus as well. By 13:00 hrs, 1,280 Bulgarians had voted already.


 

The Central Election Committee reports that the voting day in New Zealand and Australia is now over. The average turnout in Bulgaria was 25.31% at 1 pm. The highest level of participation so far has been registered in the Sofia District – 31.37%.

A nationwide poll of the Alfa Research sociological agency at 11:30 am today has shown turnout of 16.7%.

The latter was exactly 17% at the same hour during the previous parliamentary polls in 2014.

About 10,000 people voted abroad by 10 a.m. Sofia time in Sunday's Bulgarian parliamentary elections, Central Election Commission Spokesperson Alexander Andreev reported, quoted by BTA.

Voter turnout in overseas localities is impossible to measure because anyone willing (and eligible) to vote can be added to the voting lists at any time.

A total of 154 Bulgarians cast their ballots in Australia by 5 p.m. local time. Voting is over in New Zealand, where 91 people took part in the process, as many as in the 2014 Bulgarian parliamentary elections, CEC Spokesperson Kamelia Neikova said.

By 10 a.m. Bulgarian time, 992 votes were cast in Germany, 579 in the United Kingdom, 5,044 in Turkey, 197 in France, 241 in Spain, 454 in Cyprus, and 371 in Greece.

Neikova confirmed to BTA that the CEC will not reconsider its requirement for expatriate voters to sign a declaration in the presence of a section election commission member stating that the voter will not vote in another place during the elections.

Scandals and tension marked the beginning of the election day in Turkey. In front of the consulate in Bursa there is lines of people from the early  morning and the process of voting is going very slowly – for about an hour had voted 15 people.

Central Election Commission creates the tension due to its decision that everyone must fill their declaration by themselves but most of the voters in Bursa can not do that because Bulgarian language is not their mother tongue.

According to diplomatic sources the Bulgarian ambassador Nadezhda Neynsky is not in Turkey, and continues to be in Sofia.

The voting process amidst the Bulgarian community in Moldova is going on normally, announced from BNR.

Different talks with people who voted at the three polling stations in the areas with compact Bulgarian population show their expectations that the future Bulgarian parliament would come up with decisions, related mostly to the job opportunities and social options for young people from the diaspora in both Moldova and Bulgaria.

Our compatriots there see this country as not only their motherland, but also as a significant part of the united European community.

The Bulgarians residing abroad may cast their ballot today in a total of 371 polling stations across 70 countries, announced BNR.

There are 101 fewer stations in Turkey, compared to the 2014 election, as their number for states outside the EU now shouldn’t exceed 35, according to the law.

There are 8 polling stations in Belgium, 58 in Great Britain, 13 in Germany, 15 in France, 38 in Spain, 4 in Serbia, 21 in Greece and 7 in Canada.

The stations in Australia opened 8 hours before the ones in Bulgaria and many of our compatriots there have already cast their ballot

President Rumen Radev stated for the BNR his hope that the new government would be formed quickly, even at the cost of compromises between the political forces, inevitable after all their confrontations and heavy accusations during the campaign.

After casting his ballot the president commented that he had done that with the hope of all Bulgarians for a better, more modern and prosperous country.

Voter turnout in Sunday's early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria was 8.44% as at 10 a.m., the Central Election Commission reported.

A total of 574,657 people had cast their ballots by that time.

Turnout was highest in Smolyan, at 11.37 % (12,092 people), and lowest in Plovdiv, at 4.79%.

During the parliamentary elections in 2014 the election activity at 10 hours was 7.81%.

''Once the border was blocked by the representatives of certain political parties in Bulgaria, the Prime Minister called an emergency meeting at which it was decided unanimously that the law must be respected''. This was announced by the Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, according to Focus News.

Tsatsarov added that a decision was made that the law enforcement could to use all means allowed. "It is good that there were no clashes," said Tsatsarov.

According to him, the blockade of the border can not be tolerated , although people who produce it have certain ideas that deserve respect. According to him, the law allows people with dual citizenship to vote and border crossing can not be blocked.

The interior ministry reports that the election is going on normally and with no excessive events that could endanger the common voting process, according to BNR.

Latest data of the Central Election Committee show that a total of 6,810,336 Bulgarians have the right to vote today.

12,081 poll stations have been opened on this country’s territory. According to the interior ministry, a large number of the stations abroad which lie within the same time zone as Bulgaria are also open and operating.

Nearly all the stations have been opened in Spain till now. The election day has started for 50% of the stations in GB. All the polling stations in Turkey have started working on time.

''Upon taking over the EU Presidency, Bulgaria will continue with even greater energy its commitment to the future common European project. We will work in close cooperation with the other member states and the European institutions and will support any effort that would allow us improve our Union keeping its hitherto achievements," Bulgaria's President Rumen Radev said quoted by his Press Service, according to BTA.

Radev said that the adoption of the Rome Declaration is of key importance for the unfolding of the ongoing discussions on the future of the EU in the next decade and beyond.

"The declaration confirms the unity of the Union and its integrity. It also reflects the common understanding that the EU needs greater efficiency and strengthening of the connection with the citizens, in particular, in the context of the multiple unprecedented and complicated internal and external challenges of the recent years," he added.

The President underscored that the Rome Declaration confirms the EU resolve to face the challenges of the present day without stepping back from its values, commitments and historic achievements and without casting doubt on its founding principles.

Within the European Council in Brussels on March 9 and 10, Bulgaria voiced clearly its support for the EU unity, solidarity and cohesion as key principles of the EU, he continued.

President Radev took part in the ceremony on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome and signed the Rome Declaration along with the rest of the EU leaders.

‘’I voted for change, justice, border and home security’’, said the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Kornelia Ninova, after exercising her right to vote.

Ninova said also that she had voted for every child to be educated and everyone who needs health care to have it, for medium and small businesses to operate without pressure and more Bulgarians to have job with higher incomes.

BSP leader added also that she wants all young people to raise their children in Bulgaria.

She is expecting a high turnout. ’’It is good people to exercise their right to vote’’, commented Kornelia Ninova.

 

''Brexit negotiations are on course to fail unless both Britain and the European Union ditch their winner-takes-all approach to the coming talks'', the former president of the European commission José Manuel Barroso has said.

Barroso also suggested that extremists on both sides of the Channel wanted the UK to break away from the EU entirely.

“I think both sides until now mostly put the issue in terms of a zero-sum game and I think this is not helpful,” he said.

“Of course, Britain not keeping the responsibility of membership cannot expect the privileges of membership, that’s quite clear. Having said that, I think it is possible to come to a constructive agreement that minimises the negative points and offers some way forward. But that requires on both sides strategic thinking and leadership.”

Barroso spoke ahead of the publication of a report on Monday from the organisation that represents British manufacturers, the EEF, saying it would be unacceptable for the British government to come away without a deal.

The number of refugees and migrants in Bulgaria decreased two-fold in the past six months, data of the State Agency for Refugees and Migration Directorate with the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior show, quoted by BNR.

Currently, the migrant accommodation centers in Bulgaria are functioning at 55%-60% of their total capacity. The drastic decrease of the number of refugees and migrants is due to three factors.

Firstly, migration pressure towards Bulgaria has seen significant decrease in the recent months. 607 illegal foreign nationals have been detained in that country since the beginning of 2017, whereas nearly 2,600 illegal migrants were detained in the same period last year.

Secondly, the number of illegal foreign nationals deported back to their home countries has increased significantly, too. 129 illegal migrants were deported from Bulgaria in the past week only.

Thirdly, some migrants who stayed in Bulgaria managed to reach other countries in Central and Western Europe.

Currently, nearly 1,300 Afghani nationals, just over 1,000 Syrians and nearly 600 Iraqi citizens are residing in Bulgaria.

Polls opened in Bulgaria at 7am on March 26 for voting in the country’s ahead-of-term election of a new Parliament.

These will be the country's tenth parliamentary elections since the start of democratic changes in 1989 and the fifth to be held before the legislature has served its full four-year term of office.

About 6.8 million Bulgarians were eligible to cast a ballot within the country and at polling stations in 70 foreign countries, to elect the 240 members of the unicameral legislature, the National Assembly.

The 240 members of the National Assembly are elected by open list proportional representation from 31 multi-member constituencies ranging in size from 4 to 16 seats. The electoral threshold is 4%.

Eighteen parties and nine coalitions are standing in the elections.

The term of the National Assembly is four years.

The elections are being held following Parliament’s acceptance on November 16 2016 of the resignation of the second Boiko Borissov government, which had been in office since November 7 2014. A caretaker cabinet headed by Ognyan Gerdzhikov was given stewardship of the country on January 27 2017.

 

On March 26 Bulgaria switches back to daylight saving time.

Clocks will be adjusted one hour forward at 3 am sharp on Sunday morning. Thus, people will sleep one hour less tonight. According to psychologists, one needs a fortnight to adapt to the new rhythm.

Daylight saving time is the practice of advancing the clocks during the summer months by one hour so that evening daylight lasts an hour longer.

60 years after the signature of the Treaty of Rome the leaders of 27 EU member states, excluding Great Britain, signed today a new declaration emphasizing their commitment to renew European unity, according to BNR.

''The new declaration is of great importance for the future of the European Union'', Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev said. Rumen Radev accentuated on some texts from the new document related to solidarity, cohesion policy, common security and defense.

''This declaration is important for Bulgaria for two main reasons. First, due to Bulgaria’s extremely active and well-grounded position the declaration contains specific texts about solidarity and cohesion policy as factors of steadfast development. Secondly, the declaration aims at strengthening Europe’s common security and defense, rather than protecting the EU external borders only'', President Radev further said.

EU powerhouses France and Germany on Saturday warned Britain to expect no favours from Brussels once negotiations on the terms of Brexit finally get under way next week, writes The Local.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who decided not to attend the bloc's 60th anniversary summit in Rome, is due to formally notify Brussels of Britain's intention to leave on Wednesday, kick starting up to two years of discussions.

"Some things are not for sale," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters, saying Britain would not be granted any concessions which undermined the free movement of goods, people, services and capital within the European single market.

French President Francois Hollande said every effort would be made to ensure the divorce was amicable, but also warned that some pain was inevitable.

"It was Theresa May who chose not be here and it was the British who chose to take another path but we have to maintain good relations. France is very connected to the UK'', said, Hollande reiterated that a country leaving the European Union could not be seen to have benefited from the move.

The number of tourists visiting Bulgaria’s ski resort Pamporovo has increased with over 30% during the current winter season, announced BNR.

The ski season will continue until Easter and will be closed officially with free of charge ski lift services on April 17.

According to the company which manages Pamporovo and Mechi Chal ski zones, the number of Irish, Romanian and Israeli tourists visiting that Bulgarian winter resort has seen a significant increase this year. 

The traffic along the border with Turkey is normal, there is no crowding of buses or cars. This was reported  from the press office of Chief Directorate 'Border Police'.

The activity of the checkpoints was not interrupted during the night in both directions, the traffic is normal.

On the three checkpoints - 'Kapitan Andreevo', 'Malko Tarnovo' and 'Lesovo' there are no blockades.

French anti-terrorism judges have charged two men suspected of involvement in supplying a weapon to the gunman killed at Paris's Orly airport after attacking soldiers, a judicial source said Saturday, AFP reports.

The two suspects, aged 30 and 43, were charged Friday for "association with terrorist criminals" over the March 18 attack, the source said. The younger one was also charged with arms possession in relation to a terrorist plot. They were both held in custody

Bulgarian citizens living abroad who want to cast their ballots at the March 26 early elections, but were not included in the electoral rolls, should fill in the necessary declarations at the polling stations, announced BNR.

 The Central Election Commission has assured that the section election commissions have been instructed to prevent forming of long queues in front of the polling stations. In Germany 13 polling stations in 8 cities were opened only.

However, due to the high number of applications for voting the Bulgarian Elections and Referendums in Germany informal group expects large piling of people in front of the polling stations in that country.

The spokesperson of the Central Election Commission Alexander Andreev told the Bulgarian National Radio that should any problems occur during the elections, CEC is ready to respond to every single case. 

Theresa May is expected to announce within weeks that the UK will reclaim its waters for British fishermen by pulling out of a deal that pre-dates the EU, The Telegraph writes.

The Prime Minister will take Britain out of the 1964 London convention which allows European fishing vessels to access waters six to twelve nautical miles from British shores.

Pulling out of agreement would mean a clean slate for British fisherman after Brexit, although the Government could seek to secure a new deal during the negotiations.

Brexit will spell the end of the hated Common Fisheries Policy and enable the UK to assert control over its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

But Mrs May will also need to serve a notice period of two years to exit the 1964 agreement.

Sources at the Environment Department said that because of the notice period, "there is a logic" to withdrawing at the same time the Government invokes Article 50.

Mrs May has informed the European council that she will trigger Brexit on Wednesday 29 March.

Chair of Special Olympics Bulgaria Tatyana Yancheva voiced to media that the Bulgarian athletes with intellectual difficulties had won at the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 a total of 9 medals, 4 of them gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze ones.

The sport persons of Special Olympics Bulgaria had taken before 5 medals at Nagano 2005, 6 at Idaho 2009 and 12 at PyeongChang 2013, Mrs. Yancheva resumed.

Today we mark the great feast of the Annunciation (Blagoveshtenie), the glory of the gospel that Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary - that she will give birth to the Son of God, the expected Savior of mankind.
The feat is established in the Orthodox Church in the 7th century, but it is celebrated by most basic Christian denominations. It is also marked as the Day of the Mother and of motherhood, of compassion and empathy; it is believed appropriate to show compassion to orphans and poor people.

People  believe that on Blagovets the skies open, just as it did when Archangel Gabriel came down to bring Mary the happy tidings. That is why on this day people look up to the skies, to see again the wonder and extend their wishes for good health and luck.

On Blagovets there should be fish on the table, a festive loaf of bread and honey. This is the name day of all named Blaga, Blago, Blagovest, Blagovesta and Blagoy among others.

It is a day of refection in Bulgaria today before the early Parliamentary elections on March 26.

According to the decrees of the Electoral Code, political propaganda is strictly forbidden on the election silence day and those who violate the law are subject to sanctions.

Candidates from 13 political parties, 9 coalitions and 21 initiative committees are to compete for 240 seats at the next National Assembly. Bulgarians living in 70 other countries worldwide will be able to vote at the early elections.

Over 19,000 applications for voting were filed in Turkey. 5,300 Bulgarians living in Great Britain, 3,000 Bulgarians in Spain, 2,800 Bulgarians in the USA, 2,750 Bulgarians in Germany and 1,418 in Greece filed applications for voting for the forthcoming early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria.








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