Posts Tagged ‘“This is Bulgaria”’

Seven Bulgarian Scandals

30 June, 2009

June 30 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s Socialist-led government has been plagued by high-level corruption scandals during its four years in power, prompting the European Union to freeze millions of euros in aid for the bloc’s poorest member.

Brussels criticised Sofia for failing to cut links between virtually all political parties and “rings of companies”, a phrase used by Ahmed Dogan — the kingmaker in the ruling coalition and leader of the ethnic Turkish MRF — to explain how parties are funded.

Last year, Transparency International rated Bulgaria the most corrupt EU nation. Despite numerous pledges, Sofia has not convicted a single senior official of graft and has sent to jail only one crime boss since the end of communism in 1989.

Suspected criminals have received temporary immunity from prosecution after registering to run for parliament.

The agriculture and environment ministries, both controlled by the MRF, and the construction and the economy ministries, controlled by the Socialists, have been allegedly involved in some of the most notorious schemes in the past few years.

Here are the main scandals:


What I’m Reading

16 October, 2008

From The New York Times: “Mob Muscles Its Way Into Politics in Bulgaria

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Politics is played to the death in Bulgaria, where the lives of politicians can be as cheap as spent bullets and murky business groups wage a murderous struggle for their cut of everything from real estate deals to millions in European aid.


“Other countries have the mafia,” said Atanas Atanasov, a member of Parliament and a former counterintelligence chief who is a magnet for leaked documents exposing corruption. “In Bulgaria, the mafia has the country.”

By almost any measure, Bulgaria is the most corrupt country in the 27-member European Union. Since it joined last year, it has emerged as a cautionary tale for Western nations confronting the stark reality and heavy costs of drawing fragile post-Communist nations into their orbit, away from Russia’s influence.

It is important to remember that corruption isn’t isolated to any one country or region. Every country deals with corruption at some level or another. That being said, having an (more) honest judicial system and bureaucracy is something we Americans and other Westerner take for granted. True, the US has be rocked by several scandals over the recent years (no-bid contracts, signing statements, political intimidation, etc), the average citizen is rarely involved. In the cases I cited above, those all have occurred in the halls of power. I would be very hard pressed to find one of friends who was forced to bride doctors to get a blood transfusion or a prosecutor to take legal action. In Bulgaria, this is a daily occurrence.


This is Bulgaria…

8 October, 2008

This is a reponse I get a lot to a lot of things. It’s mostly used as answer to something I question something about this country. This ranging from talking about corruption to why water leaks from my kitchen ceicling when it rains. “Jimmy…this is Bulgaria and we think it’s normal…”. They may not agree with it but they have lived with these situations for most of thier life and usually can’t imgaine it any different. For the most part (with the exception of my kitchen) these have been pretty abstract. That is, until yesterday afternoon and the inspiration for this entry.

Regular readers know my backpack was lost/stolen in June. The bus company and driver were clearly at fault but couldn’t afford to replace my things. It wasn’t a problem since most of them were insured and the insurance company paid for them. I decided not to take the company to court since they couldn’t repay me and I felt fortunate enough to have been able to have owned them in the first place. The bus company was told I wouldn’t be filing a claim against them and were grateful. I considered the incident over, and moved on. But this being Bulgaria, the strangest things can happen.