Libya’s Release of 6 Prisoners Raises Criticism

Jul 15th, 2007

Libya’s Release of 6 Prisoners Raises Criticism

July 25, 2007 Libya’s Release of 6 Prisoners Raises Criticism By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER and ELAINE SCIOLINO SOFIA, Bulgaria, July 24 — After more than eight years in a Libyan prison, convicted of deliberately infecting children with the virus that causes AIDS, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor stepped off a French presidential plane to freedom here on Tuesday. The charge had been widely dismissed abroad as absurd. The Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had accused the six medical workers, who were said to have been tortured, of acting on the orders of American and Israeli intelligence agencies to destabilize the Libyan state.

Jul 9th, 2007

Poland’s conservative family values

Matthew Brunwasser reports on Poland’s “League of Polish Families.” The group is moving the Catholic country further to the right. That’s making many Europeans uncomfortable. But it’s also winning friends in the United States.

Looter describes ‘beginner’s luck’

May 22nd, 2007

Looter describes ‘beginner’s luck’

SOFIA — Naiden Blagnev, a dealer in agricultural products in the central Bulgarian village of Lisichevo, 25 kilometers from Pazardjik, described in an interview how he came upon a set of 12th-century dishes that Bulgaria contends were smuggled out of the country. In late 2000, he said, he and a friend bought an American-made Minelab metal detector for 1,400 levs, or about $800, from Boyko Tsvetanov “to use in our spare time, since we didn’t have much work.”

Bulgarian relics spark an international scuffle

May 22nd, 2007

Bulgarian relics spark an international scuffle

SOFIA — A self-described Bulgarian looter has ignited an international controversy by admitting that he dug up an ancient treasure – a set of rare 12th-century silver dishes – and accusing Christie’s of trying to resell one of the dishes in London for far more than he ever got for it. The case has developed into Bulgaria’s first high-profile effort to recover allegedly plundered antiquities, with prosecutors seeking the return of not just the dish that Christie’s was trying to sell, but also nine dishes that Sofia maintains are from the same set and now in the possession of three Greek museums.

Romania, a Poor Land, Imports Poorer Workers

Apr 11th, 2007

Romania, a Poor Land, Imports Poorer Workers

April 11, 2007 Romania, a Poor Land, Imports Poorer Workers By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER BACAU, Romania — To get around the chronic labor shortages hampering this traditional textile center and in other industries across Romania, Sorin Nicolescu, who runs a clothing factory, came up with an original solution: import 800 workers from China.   “The explanation is very simple,” said Mr. Nicolescu, general manager of a Swiss concern, the Wear Company. “We don’t have any Romanian workers because they have all left to work” in Western and Central Europe. Foreign investors have been attracted to Romania, a poor Balkan country, because of its low wages and, since Jan. 1, its membership in the European Union. At the same time, those low wages and freedom of movement through Europe, which is now easier, have been fueling a wave of emigration that threatens to slow an economic boom in recent years in Romania. “This was happening before we joined the E.U.,” said Ana Murariu, a production manager at Wear. “Now it’s even worse.” Romania, a nation of 21.6 million (and declining 0.2 percent annually), received 9 billion euros, or about $12 billion, in foreign direct investment last year. That helped the economy grow last year as much as 7 percent, with an unemployment rate in January of 5.4 percent — well below the European Union average. But with monthly wages averaging around $375 after taxes, roughly two million people, or [...]

Crusading justice minister is excluded from Romania cabinet

Apr 3rd, 2007

Crusading justice minister is excluded from Romania cabinet

  BUCHAREST — Monica Macovei, the Romanian justice minister who has lost her job in a cabinet shuffle, made fighting corruption her mission and appointed a crew of tough and independent prosecutors to help carry it out.   They did so with spirit, investigating and indicting lawmakers, government ministers and even a former prime minister, as Romania tried to prove to a skeptical European Commission that it had the political will to clean up its judicial system. They made friends in Brussels, but enemies at home.

Ivo Papasov

Feb 19th, 2007

Ivo Papasov

Reporter Matthew Brunwasser profiles Bulgarian clarinet master Ivo Papasov. Papasov was probably the first to blend American jazz with Balkan folk music…but it took the fall of Communism for much of his homeland to be able to hear it.

Jan 15th, 2007

EU far-right report

Correspondent Matthew Brunwasser reports on a new far-right political group that’s been formed in the European Parliament.

Newest EU citizens wonder what it will mean

Jan 2nd, 2007

Newest EU citizens wonder what it will mean

BUCHAREST — For the past four years, at a fictional bar called La Europa, Romanian villagers have discussed, argued and wisecracked about their future in the European Union, trying to come to terms with European standards like the length and curvature specifications for cucumbers. Their adventures are broadcast into Romanian living rooms from the Bucharest set of a popular Sunday sitcom, “The Winding Road to Europe.”

Dec 29th, 2006

Leper colony report

Leprosy is now a curable infection and isolating the afflicted in leper colonies is fast becoming history. Correspondent Matthew Brunwasser takes us to Europe’s last leper colony in Tichilesti, Romania, which houses 20 people with the disease.