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News from Bulgaria / Feb 20, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



20 February, 1996










    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - Today Bulgaria solemnly marked the 123rd anniversary of the hanging of its national hero, revolutionary Vassil Levski (1837-1873), who sacrificed himself in the struggle against Turkish domination.

    This morning Bulgarian Patriarch Maksim held a memorial service at the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Later on in the morning MPs, politicians many citizens and schoolchildren gathered in front of the monument to Vassil Levski in the centre of Sofia. President Zhelyu Zhelev, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov were also there. The rally was addressed by Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski and Prof. Ivan Lalov, Rector of the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia.

    Levski, whose real name is Vassil Ivanov Kounchev, was born to the family of a poor craftsman in the sub-Balkan Range town of Karlovo. His father died young and his mother sent him to a monastery where he later became monk. He was swept by the revolutionary wave gaining momentum in Bulgaria at that time. "I dedicated myself to the Fatherland already in 1861, pledging to serve it till my death guided by the people's will," Levski wrote later. In 1862 he took part in Belgrade in the First Bulgarian Legion, set up to organize Bulgaria's liberation from Turkish rule. Upon his return to Bulgaria he was arrested by the Turkish authorities and later he worked as a teacher. In 1867 he went to Romania to join the armed detachments sent to Bulgaria. After the disintegration of his detachment he went to Belgrade again to join the Second Bulgarian Legion which, however, also failed to fulfill its purpose of liberating Bulgaria. This was the time when Levski reconsidered the then revolutionary strategy for liberating Bulgaria. According to him, revolutionary activity should be concentrated inside the country and should involve the entire nation without counting on support from foreign forces. Levski sought to establish a secret Revolutionary Committee to prepare a nationwide uprising. In 1868 Levski made his first tour of the country. By his death in 1873 he had toured the country almost three times. His courage became legendary. He was arrested following a betrayal in his organization. Levski behaved with dignity in court and did not give away any of his associates. He was sentenced to death by hanging. With Levski's death Bulgaria's national revolutionary movement of the 19th century lost its remarkable ideologist, organizer and leader. His ideas and his lifework are in harmony with the great historical tasks which the Bulgarian National Revival set before the Bulgarian people.

    Today's speeches in front of the Monument to Vassil Levski highlighted the "democratic republic (people's rule)" and "equality of all nations - Bulgarians, Turks, Jews and Armenians" advocated by this great Bulgarian revolutionary. It was pointed out that Levski's words: "It is up to our own joint effort to make Bulgaria one of Europe's leading nations" are still topical today.


    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - The first phototypesetting of documents left by revolutionary Vassil Levski will be published some time soon. It is expected on the book market for the 125th anniversary of Levski's death. However, the publishing will cost some 2 million leva and they have not yet been made available, said Prof. Stefan Doinov, Head of the Central Archives Administration.

    The book will be a follow-up of the "Chronicle Of Vassil Levski" published in 1987. It includes everything known to have been written by the hand of Levski - notes, letters and other documents of the 1868- 73 period. Among them are Levski's letters to revolutionaries Georgi Rakovski, Lyuben Karavelov, Filip Totyu, Panayot Hitov and Ivan Kurshovski. The last of the them is a draft of a letter to the Lovech revolutionary committee dated December 12, 1972. There are also the court protocols of the 1873 trial against him, bearing his signature. The protocols were found accidentally in a wagon with waste paper. The key pieces in the collection of documents are the 1871 draft statutes of the Bulgarian central revolutionary committee, Levski's uncompleted autobiography and personal diary and little known notes from the time he spent as a student in Stara Zagora, Prof. Doinov said.

    The book will contain a detailed list of the documents and notes about their discovery and safekeeping. They will be reprinted in their original form; data will be provided about their shape and size.

    Levski's documentary heritage exceeds 200 archive items, Kirila Vuzvuzova, a Levski researcher, says in "The State Archives Journal". Levski's archive contains 153 documents, written or signed by him personally. Most date back to 1871-1872. These are notes, letters and organizational and programme documents.

    Only two documents contain data about Levski's personal life. These are a short incomplete autobiography in verse, and his private diary.

    Levski's documentary heritage, which is his personal archive, is the archive of the Central Revolutionary Committee in Bulgaria, Vuzvuzova says.


    Sofia, February 19 (Ekaterina Kazassova of BTA) Belarussian Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir is starting a two-day official visit here on Tuesday at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Zhan Videnov. Besides talks between the two heads of government, Chigir's schedule includes meetings with President Zhelyu Zhelev and Parliament Chairman Blagovest Sendov.

    Ten documents are expected to be signed during the visit: six intergovernmental and four interdepartmental agreements, including one on reciprocal investment protection, a new trade agreement, two agribusiness accords, agreements on air transport and cooperation in tourism.

    Two-way trade totalled 40 million dollars in 1995, double the 1994 level but considerably less than in previous years. Trade contracted fivefold compared to 1991 when Bulgaria was Belarus's second biggest trading partner, accounting for 12.8 per cent of total trade. Bulgaria imports Belarus tractors, BelAZ trucks, truck tyres, and exports to Belarus medicines, batteries, wine, tinned food, fruit and vegetables.

    Chigir's visit here is the first by a Belarussian prime minister since 1991 when Bulgaria recognized that country's independence. In January 1992 the two countries signed a protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations. A year later, then parliament chairman and head of state Stanislav Shushkevich visited Sofia.

    Mikhail Chigir will be accompanied by managers of the biggest Belarussian enterprises including the military-industrial complex. Ways to boost joint ventures and to set up new ones will be discussed. Region-to-region business contacts will also be on the agenda. Of 1,500 joint ventures in Bulgaria some 30 are Bulgarian-Belarussian. Last month the Belarus Scientific Industrial Association and the Bulgarian Industrial Association signed a cooperation agreement envisaging the setting up of joint ventures and a joint stock exchange. There are plans to launch the production of tractors in Karlovo jointly with the Minsk-based tractor plant and to build a tractor repair works. The two countries may bid jointly for loans and investment from the international financial institutions.

    The signing of the air transport agreement will clear the way for a regular service between the two capitals. Balkan Airlines, the Bulgarian flag carrier, will provide a service twice a week between Sofia and Minsk. Charter flights will be provided from Minsk and Grodno to Varna and Bourgas in the summer. In 1995, 8,500 Belarus tourists holidayed in Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts. In the 80s up to 60,000 Belarussian holidaymakers came to Bulgaria every year.


    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - The World Bank is ready to support structural reform in Bulgaria, "Continent" writes, quoting Sofia-based World Bank officials. An agreement has been reached with the Government on major economic policy measures in 1996, the paper writes. The bank is categorically in favour of putting money-losing state-run enterprises into liquidation, "Continent" reports. The problems of banks should be addressed primarily by their managements and owners, who should cut down costs and change lending policies, World Bank experts believe. According to them, the State Savings Bank, which concentrates the largest amount of personal savings, should be extra careful when lending, as it may put the money of small investors at risk.

    The deadline for registration of voucher books may be extended by a month, "Troud" writes, quoting yesterday's statement by the head of the Centre for Mass Privatization Kalin Mitrev. In an interview for "Continent", Mitrev says he expects 60% of eligible persons to receive their voucher books by the end of February.

    The price of enterprises on the mass privatization list has risen 4.5 to 4.7 times since 1991, the paper reports, quoting the President of the Bulgarian Industrial Association Bozhidar Danev. Specialists identify as a major setback the lack of clarity about who owns the land on which major facilities of the national economy were built.

    The Black Sea resorts Golden Sands and Sunny Beach will be restructured ahead of privatization, "Continent" reports. According to experts, this would require additional funds and put an extra burden on the public.

    Under a headline "[Trade Minister] Paparizov Ends Lamb Quota War", "Continent" reports a three-hour meeting last Saturday between Ministry of Trade officials and managers of over 40 companies bidding to export lamb to European Union nations. Lamb exports are now at standstill, and 1.3 million lambs are a heavy burden on producers, the paper says.

    Eighty per cent of the quota will be assigned to traditional producers, according to a final decision of the Ministry approved by all concerned parties. The division between "old" and "new" exporters was at the core of a dispute between exporters and the Trade Ministry in the last few weeks, the paper says. The EU quota breaks down as follows: 1,125 t of lamb exports are duty-free, the duty on 640 t is 4%, and the duty on 3,023 t of live animals is also 4%.

    "For the first time, agricultural cooperatives will have a share in the business," the Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Atanas Paparizov says in an interview for "Zemya". According to him, only exporters who have sealed contracts with reliable partners will be able to export to the EU. The risk is too high for other traders, following the introduction of money guarantees. "We tried to avert the possibility of one or two exporters monopolizing the market, as well as undercutting by accidental exporters," the minister said, asked if it was possible for the decision to create loopholes for uncontrolled exports. He expressed concern about plunging exports to other than EU nations in the last few years. "We have lost markets in Arab countries, and our task is to recapture them," the minister said.


    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Consumers' Federation (BCF) together with the Greek Consumers' Federation and the Regional Consumers' Centre in Northern Gaul, France, started implementing a joint project on the protection of the Balkan countries consumers from dishonest merchants and producers, Pavel Kurlev, BCF Executive Secretary said at a news conference today.

    The 85,000 Ecu worth project is financed under the PHARE program. Of these 12,000 Ecu are designed for the purchase of equipment for detection of low-quality products on the market. Under the project an information system, comprising five pilot points in the country's largest cities, will keep consumers in touch with the BCF regional branches. The Bulgarian Federation projects to open a specialized bureau in Sofia for free consultancy on juristic issues. Another goal of the project is to increase control over dangerous and low-quality goods on Bulgarian market.

    As of March 15 a hot line for consumers will be opened in Sofia, Kurlev said. It will provide full information for the best bargains for consumers. In the future BCF plans to introduce such lines in all cities where it has regional branches.

    The Federation management also stakes on the activation of contacts with the National Pricing Committee at the Council of Ministers. Thus BCF hopes to enhance control over unregulated pricing. National Pricing Committee experts envisage to hire chartered accounters, economists, financial inspectors and technical experts of BCF to make checks in Sofia and the larger cities.

    Today's news conference was prompted by the one-day international seminar on: "Consumers' Protection: Legislation, Operation and Financing", which was also held today. The Greek and French experts familiarized their Bulgarian colleagues with their experience in organizing consumers' safety nets. The sides discussed the prospects for international cooperation in control over imported goods.

    The Bulgarian Consumers' Federation was established back in 1990 in Sofia. At present it has 21 regional branches nationwide. 500 volunteers of BCF maintain contacts with most of the state hygiene epidemiology inspectorates which make primary inspections on consumers' complaints.


    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - "Mass privatization is the principal form of denationalization in Bulgaria. The Government of the Democratic Left (a coalition of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and the Eco-Glasnost Political Club) attaches paramount importance to it; the pledge to carry it out was one of the commitments the Government assumed a year ago; mass privatization will have crucial importance for Bulgaria's integration with the European structures and the new world," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov told reporters at a news conference after today's meeting of the Council of Ministers. The Government considered the implementation of the decision to apply urgent measures for carrying out mass privatization made in January 1996. Voucher privatization got off ground on January 8 this year. "5.5 percent of 6.7 million eligible Bulgarians have already bought voucher books," Videnov said. "I will take part in mass privatization by all means," the Prime Minister told reporters. "Though higher compared to other Eastern European countries at a similar stage of denationalization, this percentage is not satisfactory," Videnov said. "Today the Cabinet received reports from the leaders of ministries and departments concerned with privatization which provide information about the economic condition of the 1,063 companies subject to mass privatization," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev said. "In accordance with the Accountancy Act, all the enterprises will have their 1995 balance sheets by February 15, 1996; their appraisals will be ready by March 15," Gechev said. "The Centre for Mass Privatization will be presented reports about the units' performance in the last three years, which will be updated at every three months to meet the requirement of investors in mass privatization," he added. Only 25-30 per cent of the legal analyses ascertaining the status of the enterprises fail to meet the requirements, the Deputy Prime Minister said. The legal problems will be settled according to the schedule; technical or subjective problems will not be allowed to undermine the process, Videnov and Gechev said. The enterprises, earmarked for privatization, account for as little as 3 per cent of the aggregate indebtedness of the state-owned companies to the public purse and for 10 per cent of their obligations to the banking system, the Prime Minister said in answer to a question. The Mass Privatization Centre is working to prepare the legal framework for the mass privatization process to present it to the Government and some documents will be ready within a week, Director of the Mass Privatization Centre Kalin Mitrev told the news conference. They will regulate the transfer of property on vouchers and the licensing of investment funds to purchase from the citizens and manage their future portfolios at their request. Some technical amendments to the Mass Privatization Act are also being drafted. The Mass Privatization Centre is preparing to offer to the public varied information about the enterprises on the mass privatization list; it takes care of the awareness campaign and of the coordination between the departments committed to the denationalization. The Centre also holds seminars for employees engaged in the process, which is technically supported by G-24 and the British know-how find, Mr Mitrev said.


    Dobrich, February 19 (BTA) - Todor Todorov MP of the Bulgarian Socialist Party died this morning after what is believed to have been a suicide attempt. Todorov died of heart failure at 3.40 a.m. today, still in coma, BTA was told by the head of the Dobrich district hospital, Dr. Hristo Mirchev. Todorov was found shot in the head in his home in the village of Malina, Northeastern Bulgaria, on February 5. According to Interior Ministry sources, the version suggesting attempted suicide is beyond doubt. Todorov chaired the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Forests and speculations linked the attempted suicide with suspicious circumstances about the grain crisis in this country and the financing of the autumn farming operations. Todorov and his family were often threatened over the phone, with the callers accusing him of the dire straits of the Bulgarian village, "Standart News" wrote on February 5 quoting Peter Komarov, a friend of Todorov and first deputy chief of an Agriculture Ministry department. "He had probably killed himself; it was the grain that ruined him," Todorov's father told the "Troud" daily. Sources close to Todorov reportedly said he suffered from depression before the suicide attempt. His own pistol was found beside him on the scene. Todor Todorov was born in the village of Malina, the Varna region, on February 27, 1949. He graduated in economics and management from the Higher Institute of National Economics in Varna. Todorov taught agricultural policy at Varna's University of Economics. He did research and wrote textbooks in economics and management of agriculture. He was married with three children. A three-member team of the Forensic Medicine Department with the Medical Institute in Varna (Northeastern Bulgaria) found out that the lethal bullet had entered through the right temple and went out of the right part of the head. The medical examination concluded that the fire wounds in the brain were fatal despite the medical treatment. Todor Todorov will be buried in his native village of Malina. Head of the local investigative service in Dobrich Dragostin Baichev was quoted on the National Radio as saying that the results of the forensic examination confirmed the version suggesting suicide attempt. "His life and work will be remembered for the sensitivity, the tolerance and the responsibility with which he stood for the strategy for efficient and lasting solution of the problems of the Bulgarian countryside," read the condolences, cabled by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to the family of the late MP. National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov also cabled his condolences to Todor Todorov's relatives. Obituaries were published on behalf of the Parliament leadership, the Parliamentary group of the Democratic Left and the BSP's Supreme Council.

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