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News from Bulgaria / Feb 19, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



19 February, 1996











    Sofia, February 16 (BTA) - The Penitentiary Administration, prison chiefs, officials of the Prosecutor General's Office, the National Investigative Service and the Interior Ministry today discussed at a national conference issues of criminal justice. The forum was opened by Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov, and the keynote report was made by his deputy Lyuben Kornezov.

    Chervenyakov emphasized the importance of a clear-cut strategy in the fight against crime, and the need for a new philosophy of criminal justice, in line with international standards.

    Deputy Justice Minister Kornezov said soaring crime was the most serious problem facing the justice system. He referred to diarchy in the nation, with a legitimate constitutional government on the one hand, and a shadow government, in some cases more efficient, on the other. The minister cited as one reason for this state of Affairs distortions of the idea of separation of power, which rendered institutions helpless and often set them against each other.

    The report also discussed the dire financial straits of prisons, overcrowded with people awaiting trial. Another problem is the fact regional prisons have been reduced to 12, from 30. Homosexuality in jails has risen by 71%. To emerge from the present crisis, the authorities need to focus on law improvement, according to Kornezov. According to him, it is high time Parliament addressed the issue of capital punishment (on which there is a moratorium), and passed a new execution of punishments law.


    Sofia, February 17 (BTA) - "Not the Bulgarian or the Turk, but democracy is in danger," said Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), at a 6,000-strong national rally on Saturday in the southern Bulgarian town of Kurdjali which has a large Turkish population. Demonstrators protested against a district court ruling invalidating the local elections held late in 1995 on grounds of voting irregularities. Rasim Musa was elected mayor of Kurdjali on the MRF list.

    Dogan warned the demonstrators that one must not play with fire because it spares no one. "The rally shows the strength of the MRF electorate, but it is also a warning to the incumbents and to our enemies," said Ahmed Dogan, ending his speech with the words "power is never given, it must be taken".

    In protest at the court ruling, the MPs of the MRF boycotted Parliament's sittings this week. At a meeting on Wednesday with diplomats from Lebanon, Morocco, Kuwait, Turkey, Egypt and Libya, Dogan urged that the issue of human rights in Bulgaria should not be dropped from the agenda of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    Speakers at the rally said the elections had been voided by order of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party. They called the court ruling a signal for a new forcible assimilation campaign against the Bulgarian Turks, BTA's local correspondent reported. Playing the ethnic card and turning Kurdjali once again into the bone of contention is a easy way to divert the attention of the Bulgarian nation from unresolved vital issues, speakers said. The MRF is in favour of unity and democracy, as it has proved many times; it will stand up for these principles in the future because it defends the rights and freedoms of an ethnic community which is part of this nation, it was said at the rally.

    Last week President Zhelyu Zhelev discussed the invalidation of the election results at separate meetings with MRF leaders, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Socialist leaders. Videnov promised new, fair elections in Kurdjali, while Zhelev expressed concern over the possibility for political confrontation and tension to grow into ethnic confrontation and tension in the run-up to the elections.

    The rally was held in a calm atmosphere, with no public order violations during and after it, BTA's local correspondent reported. The rally was attended by leaders of the following opposition formations: Union of Democratic Forces, Popular Union, Radical Democratic Party and Union of the Victims of Repressions.


    Sofia, February 18 (BTA) - Balkancar-Record of Plovdiv is launching a new line of Evropa M1 motor trucks with a lifting capacity between 1,000 and 2,000 kg. Being small and manoeuvrable, they will fill a slot that no industrial truck can claim. In 1995 the company made 1,300 motor cars. Its 1996 output is projected at 1,200.

    Pelmash based in Pelovo (Northern Bulgaria) will supply equipment worth 500,000 Deutsche marks to the glass works near Nis (Yugoslavia), Managing Director Kroum Kounchev said. It has contracted to build glass-curing tunnel furnaces with a capacity of 70 tonnes per hour for the Nis works.

    Danish experts will draw up a project for reusing heat gases at the lead and zinc plant in Kurdjali (Southern Bulgaria), intended to cut down outlays on fuel. The experts will arrive in Kurdjali in April or May and will prepare the project free of charge.

    The Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian oil company (AMBO) is continuing its work on a project for a pipeline carrying crude oil from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. The 907 km pipeline will link Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan with the Black Sea port of Bourgas and the Albanian port of Vlora on the Adriatic. The project, which is part of the West-East corridor, will boost the three countries' economies, according to AMBO.

    A mushroom-growing factory in the Danubian city of Rousse will supply the Russian army with tinned mushrooms and meat worth 60 million leva in 1996. Ukraine will receive 80 per cent of the exports, Director Dimiter Obreshkov told BTA.

    The factory with an annual capacity of 130 tonnes will export tinned food worth 24 million leva to Germany.

    Vidachim of Vidin (Northwestern Bulgaria) has trebled its output of car tyres and polyamide fibres. According to projections, its 1996 output will total 6,000 million leva.

    Bulgarian Sauvignon Blanc of the 1995 vintage won the Golden Rhyton at the Vinaria '96 Fair in Plovdiv, Vinex Preslav's Managing Director Tsanko Stanchev told BTA. The company won prizes for 12 of its 18 white wines entered for blind tasting.

    The Wine Diplomatic Club in Istanbul were pleasantly surprised at the quality of Bulgarian wine, said Bulgarian Consul General Kiril Momchilov after Vinegrower's Day, February 14.

    Fourteen consuls general are members of the club, established two years ago. They meet monthly to taste wines from different countries. The club members agreed that Bulgarian wines rival French and Italian wines.

    An energy centre will be set up in the Lovech region on an initiative of the Energy Policy Department of the National Technical University of Athens. The Bulgarian companies involved in the project are Energoproekt-Sofia with three local companies as subcontractors.

    The project aims at an effective energy policy using environment- friendly products and technologies. The PHARE programme will provide ECU 700,000 in financing and the EBRD will extend an ECU 30 to 50 million soft loan for its implementation. The energy centre will take 32 months to build.


    Sofia, February 18 (BTA) - Important personages, intellectuals and foreign diplomats could be seen at Sofia's Central Military Club, the venue for Bulgaria's first Viennese Ball after World War II, on Saturday night.

    The Ball was organized under the aegis of President Zhelyu Zhelev and Austrian Ambassador Erich Kristen, who did not attend the event. Culture Minister Georgi Kostov gave an address on behalf of the President, saying it was a great pleasure to have a Ball in Sofia only two days after the Ball in Vienna. Thus Sofia regains its place among the world music capitals, Kostov said.

    Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Culture Minister Georgi Kostov, Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski and Deputy Defence Minister Dimiter Mitkov were the political personages who accepted the Austrian Embassy's invitation. Unlike Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and President Zhelev, who were not there to demonstrate their dancing abilities, former trade minister Kiril Tsochev attended the function.

    Ambassador Stefano Rastrelli was at the Ball in his capacity as representative of Italy, the current EU president. Spanish Ambassador Jorge Fuentes danced the first waltz with a girl of Sofia's dancing school.

    About one million leva - the proceeds from cover charges and bills paid by the guests - will be given away to a charity supporting 97 handicapped children living in the village of Radotina near the southwestern town of Blagoevgrad. The Intercontinental prepared the meal.


    Sofia, February 18 (BTA) - "Today we are meeting not only Levski the legend, the martyr and the ideal, but his immortal message too: a free independent Bulgaria, a genuine holy republic," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said at the commemoration of the 123rd death anniversary of Vassil Levski, the architect of the movement for Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule.

    "A democratic genius, Levski handed down to us the highest values of a free civil society. On this basis we are building our common home Bulgaria as part of the future united Europe," Videnov said in Levski's native town of Karlovo (Central Bulgaria). He described Bulgaria as a "home which provides security for all its residents regardless of ethnicity, religion or ideology; a home hospitably open to friends, but impervious to insolent intervention".

    "It is becoming increasingly clear that everything depends on our joint efforts, that our differences are not an obstacle to defending our national interests, that we may join the developed European nations as Levski saw Bulgaria in his dreams and struggle," Videnov said. In conclusion, he stressed that if the Bulgarians are mindful of Levski's ideals when making their choice as citizens, their homage to the most unselfish architect of Bulgarian freedom will become real.

    The event was attended by Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov, MPs and members of the public.


    Sofia, February 18 (BTA) "MRF Wants to Overthrow the Cabinet" runs a front-page headline in "Troud" which covers Saturday's rally staged by the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) in the southern Bulgarian town of Kurdjali which has a large Turkish population. Demonstrators protested a court ruling invalidating the local elections in which an ethnic Turk was elected mayor of the town. The daily says 6,000 to 7,000 people bussed in from other parts of the country called on MRF leader Ahmed Dogan to run for President.

    "Kurdjali declared democratic capital of the Rhodope Mountains" is the subheading of a front-page story in "24 Chassa". It says the 6,000-strong rally called on the Prosecutor General's Office to impeach Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Socialist deputy leader Georgi Purvanov. Forty buses ferried demonstrators from all parts of the country to Kurdjali to support the MRF, says the daily.


    A World Bank mission recommended to the Government that the problems of the banking system should not be allowed to affect the State Savings Bank which holds the bulk of deposits of members of the public, "Troud" says. From February 5 to 16 World Bank experts negotiated the terms of a new agreement with Bulgaria, the daily says. DRUG HAUL

    An Alsatian scented 13.8 kg of drugs in a Belgian-registered car at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border on Saturday evening, "24 Chassa" reports. The find with an estimated value of over one million dollars was being shipped from Turkey to Western Europe. A 33-year-old Italian and a 40-year-old Belgian woman, both unnamed, were being questioned about the haul. The German-trained Alsatian has been at the checkpoint for two years. The daily says this is the first drug find at the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint this year.


    Sofia, February 18 (BTA) - The World Environment Centre will implement a three-year waste reduction programme in Pleven (Northern Bulgaria), financed by the Swiss government.

    The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the International Bank for Investment and Development and eight BCCI regional divisions have set up a privatization fund, said the fund's Managing Director Ganka Kolyovska.

    Socialist MP Todor Todorov's condition has been deteriorating steadily after an apparent suicide attempt two weeks ago, BTA's correspondent reported from Dobrich (Northeastern Bulgaria) quoting hospital sources. Todorov is chairman of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee.

    Japanese sculptors Rotaro Hashimoto and Masaji Asagi told the Humour Centre in Gabrovo (Central Bulgaria) that they had instituted a prize for the best young Bulgarian sculptor which will be awarded at the international biennale of humour and satire held in Gabrovo, BTA's local correspondent reported. The prize consists of a table top sculpture and an undisclosed sum of money.

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