Bulgaria politics

And it's goodbye from him

Bulgaria’s battered and unloved government formally resigned on July 24, its reputation shaken by its policies and alleged murky business links – and, more recently, a banking crisis. With snap elections looming in October, a caretaker government will now seek to steady the ship and repair relations with the European Union. The election is expected to usher in the nominally rightist opposition with the hope it will take a more reform-minded and western-looking approach. Continue reading »

Controversial Bulgarian tycoon Tzvetan Vassilev blamed Sofia’s state prosecution service and media attacks for sparking a run on his Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB) as shareholders declined to rescue the country’s fourth largest lender, raising the prospect of nationalisation.

Speaking to beyondbrics, Vassilev said the run on KTB last week was “triggered by absurd speculations of certain factions of the Bulgarian prosecution service, which were blown out of proportion by Bulgarian media”. The run came after a controversial MP, Delyan Peevski, accused Vassilev of ordering his assassination, following which the state prosecutor detained three of Vassilev’s associates. Continue reading »

Bulgaria’s central bank on Friday froze the operations of the Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), suspended its directors and put the country’s fourth largest lender under special supervision following a bank run that had raised risks of insolvency.

Tsvetan Vassilev, KTB’s largest shareholder and one of Bulgaria’s wealthiest and most influential figures, said in a statement to the FT late on Friday that “the events that have been taking place since last week are the visible part of a carefully prepared and planned scenario aimed at destabilizing Corporate Commercial Bank”.

Vassilev did not say who he believed was behind the alleged attempt to destabilise KTB, but he did say that “more than 20 per cent of the financial institution’s assets were withdrawn in less than a week”. This, he added, would “have made any bank collapse within two or three days” but KTB had been able to withstand it, proving its “outstanding management”. Continue reading »

Bulgaria will hold an early election in the autumn, with the beleaguered government set to step down after barely a year in power characterised by street protests, accusations of links to nefarious business interests and strong criticism from the European Union.

President Rosen Plevneliev said on Tuesday that the country’s leading political parties had agreed to an election between September 28 and October 12. It comes after a junior coalition partner withdrew from the government led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which suffered a damaging defeat in the European elections. Continue reading »

Ask people to name one famous Bulgarian and the answer would probably not be Vasil Levski, freedom fighter and the country’s foremost hero. Nor would it be Tsar Simeon, who ruled over the Bulgarian empire that famously touched three seas.

 

No – the Bulgarian name most likely to glitter in the popular imagination is Hristo Stoichkov, a volatile and brilliant association football forward who fired the national team to a historic fourth place at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, leading the tournament’s top scorers chart along the way. Continue reading »

The government besieged, protesters and police packing the streets, an ongoing air of uncertainty over the country’s future – name the country. Not Turkey, or Egypt, but Bulgaria. But while demonstrators rage against the newly-appointed prime minister, the Balkan country has received a remarkably upbeat report from the International Monetary Fund, which praised the country’s economic stability and policies.

At the end of a regular staff visit on July 3, Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria issued a statement that may give a fledgling, fragile and beleaguered government some succour. Continue reading »

Five hundred years of Ottoman rule, 45 years of Communism and the past two decades of democracy tainted by corruption and economic failure have given Bulgarians a substantial dose of disrespect for their rulers. The latest government, which tiptoed over the line into office in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, presides over a country that is as sceptical – even cynical – as ever. It also faces a sluggish, if stable, economy with the EU’s lowest incomes. Continue reading »

Stanishev (left), Borisov (right)

“Too many grannies mean an unfed child” is the Bulgarian equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.

There are lots of fussy Balkan grannies competing in Sunday’s election – and they are likely to squabble for sometime afterwards about who gets to look after the feeble Bulgarian economy. Continue reading »

Bulgaria took a step into the political unknown on Thursday as parliament confirmed the resignation of the government. A caretaker administration will probably be formed following constitutional niceties, and hotly-contested early elections are expected within three months.

On Thursday, parliamentarians from the ruling GERB party voted to accept their own government’s offer to quit, announced on television the previous day by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Continue reading »

Bulgaria’s parliament accepted the resignation on Thursday of right-of-centre Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government, which stepped down after a series of nationwide protests over high energy prices turned violent. Continue reading »

By Otilia Simkova, Europe analyst, Eurasia Group

Bulgaria faces snap elections after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s 20 February resignation spurred by ten days of protests against electricity bills, which in January averaged €100. That is a significant portion of monthly income in a country where average monthly wages are just €387 and the average pension is just €150. Despite Borisov’s decision to step down, protestors will not be appeased and are likely to turn the heat up on the energy sector. Continue reading »

The Bulgarian government resigned on Wednesday, throwing the country into political uncertainty and compounding concerns about the faltering economy.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced the move on morning television, after days of street protests, including bloody clashes between police and demonstrators outside parliament on Tuesday night. Borisov said: “Every drop of blood is a shame for us.”

A snap election and change of government are now on the cards. Continue reading »

It’s a spectacular video that has been watched across the world. During a party conference, a man leaps onto the stage and draws a gun at the leader’s head at point-blank range; the gun misfires and the speaker manages to knock it away; the gunman is dragged across the stage and subjected to a savage beating by besuited delegates.

But what does it tell us about Bulgaria’s reputation – and reality? Continue reading »

President Rosen Plevneliev sees Bulgaria as an island of stability within a troubled continent. The country has a low budget deficit and limited government debt in comparison with fellow EU members. Despite prolonged stagnation, it has required no bailout, unlike nearby Serbia, Romania and Greece.

But a new FT Special Report finds that beneath this stability lie problems around the state of democracy, organised crime and structural economic reform. Continue reading »

Pre-election machinations may be behind a decision by Bulgaria’s parliament this week to hold a referendum on a nuclear power plant.

The referendum, to be held in January, follows the government’s March decision to cancel the development of the Danube-side Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), in which Bulgaria had already invested 1.4bn levs ($925m), with one reactor already completed. Continue reading »