domenica, 1 Ottobre, 2023
domenica, 1 Ottobre, 2023
Home Bulgaria Remix Media Review: September 1

Media Review: September 1

by Petya Petrova
10 minuti di lettura

NEW POLITICAL SEASON  At the start of the new political season TV outlets invited analysts for predictions on how it will play out. 

Speaking on the morning programme of bTV, Anton Kutev, former spokesperson of the caretake cabinet, said he expected GERB leader Boyko Borissov to topple the ruling coalition between GERB and Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria.

“I doubt the government will last 200 days. Reforms must be made quickly, and so far not even one has been declared. The alliance between the ruling parties is cracking from within,” he added.    He said the fact that the Interior Ministry Chief Secretary is appointed by the President is a change from the governance of GERB. “In 2014, Borissov was prime minister. The bill was submitted by GERB MPs,” Kutev said.  He pointed out that the only thing the government has taken as a consistent policy is the changes in the Interior Ministry.    “I would not say that President Rumen Radev has ambitions to participate in the local elections. Many people will want to be associated with Radev,” Kutev said.   He said Radev has no mechanism to support anyone. “I don’t think he’s headed for a political project. At the moment he is president and he is implementing his powers,” Kutev was adamant.

***  Speaking on Bulgarian National Television, social analyst Andrey Raychev said that the ruling coalition looks more stable. Political scientist and former MEP Svetoslav Malinov said that there are opportunities for positive development, but whether they will be realized, remains to be seen.     This government and this political attitude was born with the war in Ukraine and will go away with it, Raychev believes. He recalled that in Europe 100% of people support Ukraine, compared with 60% of Bulgarians.    According to Malinov, at the moment there is a calming down and getting used to the idea that there is a working parliament. He said that it is not so easy to scale “for” and “against” Ukraine.    According to Raychev, this government depends entirely on Boyko Borissov. According to him, unlike other nationalist parties Vazrazhdane are smart. They are aware that they do not have a single ally. They are trying to recreate something which is happening in Europe.     Malinov said that the president is like a leader or an honorary chairman of Vazrahdane and that he will become more and more hysterical in his reactions.


24 Chasa writes that a new way to curb President Rumen Radev’s ability to influence politics was proposed by MP Yavor Bozhankov of Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria. He is introducing special legal changes to curb the president’s powers, thus avoiding the cumbersome procedure for amending the constitution.  The president should have no say in the appointment of the Interior Ministry’s chief secretary and the heads of the security services, as well as lose his three representatives on the central bank’s board and his quotas in the Council for Electronic Media and the commission for protection against discrimination, Yavor Bozhankov’s draft envisages. It further restricts the president’s rights to appoint the defence chief and ambassadors by introducing a ban on such appointments during the administration of a caretaker cabinet.    Bozhankov announced his proposals a day after Rumen Radev refused to sign a decree removing Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Petar Todorov, who later resigned. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov demanded the removal of Petar Todorov from his post and announced that there was a dual power in the Interior Ministry.    Late on Wednesday evening, Bozhankov announced his idea to curb Rumen Radev’s powers via Facebook. He explained that this is a personal initiative, and he will discuss it with his colleagues from Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and with the other groups. And Bozhankov explained to “24 hours” that the issue has been discussed for a long time in the ranks of his group.  “Radev went too far, but it also happened because the law allows it. The question is what we will do so that no one can abuse power in the future”, Bozhankov said and gave the example of “attempts to seize power far beyond the presidential institution – mass appointments of military personnel to state bodies through a caretaker cabinet”. 

 The CC-DB and GERB on Thursday declined official comment. 

So far, the ruling coalition has only discussed ideas to amend the Constitution to change the status of the caretaker government and allow the president to appoint only the prime minister, and to do so by choosing between three people in high positions in the state – the heads of Parliament, the central bank and the Constitutional Court.  For months, the CC-DB has periodically raised the issue of impeaching the president but has taken no concrete action because of fear that this would give Radev political leverage, as Bozhankov himself explained. With the same argument Kiril Petkov explained that such a procedure should not be launched before the local elections in leaked recording of a party meeting.    And since the impeachment is apparently on the chopping block for now, and the constitutional amendments take a long time to move forward, Bozhankov is introducing legislative changes against Radev, which could be adopted by the end of September, if the majority is willing.

Rumen Radev himself remained silent on Thursday, but Vice President Iliana Iotova explained that such changes have never brought good results to the people who propose them.   “It should not matter who president is. During the caretaker cabinets, flaws that no one had previously identified were revealed, because no one had abused tnem.”    Bozhankov told 24 Chasa that he will seek support from the parliamentary groups that declare their strong support for Bulgaria’s European path. 


A story in Capital Weekly focuses on the unsuccessful attempts of the executive to solve drug shortages. There is no health minister who has not tried to solve the problem of shortages of certain medicines in Bulgaria over the last ten years. These attempts are usually unsuccessful because the government acts in a rush following information about a lack of important medicines at a particular time.   This situation has not escaped new Health Minister Hristo Hinkov. He released for public discussion amendments to the drugs act drafted by the caretaker government, and the parliamentary healthcare committee forced him to provide it with a list of missing (and “found” during the week) drugs.    This, of course, does not solve the main overlooked problem. Even in non-inflationary times, heavy price regulation of medicines is leading to more and more of them being dropped from the list of medicines covered by the Health Ministry, the National Health Insurance Fund and hospitals. Neither government wants to revisit the issue of drug prices, which for producers are the lowest in the EU, for fear that it is an unpopular measure. 

The other very important question, which no one raises, is whether illegal trade in expensive medicines has taken place in Bulgarian hospitals and on what scale.  The state has all the tools to trace the path of medicines, but there are still no publicly known results of the checks on these cases and why it has not done so, so far.  Instead, other non-working measures are being proposed.  

Prof. Hristo Hinkov explained that one of the main reasons for the shortage of medicines is re-export. Annually, about 300 medicines are struck from the list of medicines covered by the National Health Insurance fund, hospitals and the Health Ministry. Some of the products are missing for production and logistical reasons. Some stop import and production. The reasons are mostly that Bulgaria is a small market for pharmaceutical companies. 


In a Bulgarian National Radion interview on Thursday, former Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Petar Todorov said that two days before businessman Vasil Bojkov returned to Bulgaria, the Interior Ministry knew about it. As early as August 23 there was information that Bojkov intended to go home voluntarily.  

Asked whether the Interior Ministry had information that the businessman would return voluntarily or that he had been extradited, the former Chief Secretary said, “We had information that a trip was coming in two days. What we know at the moment is that he returned voluntarily.”

He added that Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov had asked him to step down from his post after a visit by a political leader. However, Stoyanov was initially willing to work with Todorov. Bulgaria’s migrant centres are full nearly 45% over capacity, Todorov added.    

AFTERMATH OF LIGHTHNING TRAGEDY IN RUSE quotes experts as saying that 99% of stadiums in Bulgaria are not protected from lightning. On Wednesday a lightning struck two 11-year-old boys at a stadium in the city of Ruse, killing one.   Sports facilities and stadiums in Bulgaria do not meet European criteria for lightning protection.  Rules are set out in an ordinance, but there appears to be no organization to check for compliance.    Some 80% of old buildings and nearly 100% of sports facilities in the country do not meet the lightning protection standard, experts say. It was drafted in 2010 as a regulation of the Ministry of Regional Development. However, even then, no state structure was set up to monitor the implementation of these rules. Thus, the responsibility is entirely in the hands of the owner or user.

 Hristomir Ivanov was part of a group of experts that wrote the lightning protection regulation. According to him, if the stadium in Ruse, where the two children were struck, had complied with the rules, the incident would not have happened. “Some 99% of stadiums are not protected, including the Vasil Levsski National Stadium,” he said on Nova TV. Experts are calling for a mass inspection of public buildings. 


Quoting Associated Press, 24 Chasa writes that former US President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday and sought to sever his case from other defendants who are accused along with him of illegally trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. 

Trump and 18 others were charged earlier this month in a 41-count indictment that outlines an alleged scheme to subvert the will of Georgia voters who had chosen Democrat Joe Biden over the Republican incumbent in the presidential election. 

*** Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia is ready to increase its gas supplies to Turkiye and implement agreements between the two countries on setting up a gas hub for sales to other countries, 24 Chasa reports. Lavrov spoke at a press conference after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan in Moscow.

“For our part, we reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to all agreements on increasing natural gas exports, including through the implementation of the initiative of the heads of our states to create a single gas distribution hub in Turkiye,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said that after several phone conversations and face-to-face meetings, and another informal summit is planned for the near future between the presidents of Russia and Turkiye to discuss all aspects of bilateral partnership.   

*** writes that from September 1, Paris becomes the first European capital to completely ban scooters. The three operators, Lime, Tier and Dott, will lose their authorization to occupy public space after an unprecedented vote in early April. The “no” vote won by almost 90 per cent, but only 7.46 per cent (103,000) of people on the electoral roll turned out to vote. The three companies operated some 15,000 scooters.


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