Nov 11th, 2009
By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER Published: November 10, 2009 SOFIA — The silence on the streets of the Bulgarian capital this week speaks volumes about this nation’s deep ambivalence about democracy. Although Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of the removal of Bulgaria’s Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, and the start of democratic changes here, the day went uncelebrated, even as Germany cleaned up from celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To explain the amnesia of Bulgarians about their Communist past, and apathy about their democratic present, Bulgarian commentators are using a biblical metaphor: Like the Israelites, the Bulgarians will have to wander the desert for 40 years to be cleansed of the sins of Communism.
Oct 29th, 2009
Relationship breakdown October 29, 2009 — Istanbul Writer: Matthew Brunwasser There are good reasons to condemn Israel for its incursion into Gaza last December: some 1,400 Palestinians were killed as Israel got tough on Hamas a month before parliamentary elections. But Turkey’s diplomatic response has snowballed to enormous proportions – leaving Turkey-watchers wondering whether Gaza wasn’t just a convenient excuse for the Islamist government in Ankara to shed a historical ally it really considered distasteful all along.
Oct 23rd, 2009
A wave of Arab tourism is washing over Istanbul – and it’s all because of racy Turkish soap operas. Last season Noor, the most popular, was watched by 85 million people across the Arab world. Monocle sets off to the Bosphorous to join the guided tour for avid viewers wishing to live the dream.
Oct 14th, 2009
Taking offence, Turkish style Offending Turkishness and common sense October 14, 2009 — Istanbul Writer: Matthew Brunwasser Turkey is schizophrenic about human rights. The country has made important steps towards protecting minority rights at home and reducing conflict in the region. But at the same time it continues to brutally silence critics – unable to tolerate either political opposition or those who challenge the myths of the Turkish nation.
Jul 6th, 2009
July 6, 2009 Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria — Mayor Boyko Borisov of Sofia, a burly former black-belt bodyguard with a penchant for tough talk, cigars and leather jackets, led his center-right opposition party to a larger-than-expected election victory on Sunday over Bulgaria’s governing Socialist-led coalition, which was weakened by a severely deteriorating economy and voter fatigue with chronic corruption.
Jun 25th, 2009
June 25, 2009 By DAN BILEFSKY and MATTHEW BRUNWASSER PRAGUE — The former prime minister of Kosovo, Agim Ceku, a former rebel commander wanted in Serbia on war crimes charges, has been arrested in Bulgaria, Bulgarian officials announced Wednesday.
Jun 5th, 2009
Not much is known about the walrus since the animals inhabit some of Earth’s most remote places. But researchers are beginning to observe some remarkable things about walrus behavior: not only are they very musical, but they are also very gregarious and sexual. Matthew Brunwasser reports.
Mar 2nd, 2009
Broadcast on NPR – All Things Considered Woody Woodpecker, the screwball cartoon character, is famous for his constant pecking. His creators modeled him on the real-life acorn woodpecker, and for good reason. The residents of Rossmoor, an upscale retirement community east of San Francisco, have for years tried peaceful means to make the pesky birds go away. But now, it’s war.
Jan 30th, 2009
For centuries, captive bears have made money for their gypsy owners by dancing in the streets of Europe. But thanks to the efforts of actress Bridget Bardot and an Austrian animal rights group, the last of the dancing bears have been placed in a cushy retirement home in the mountains of Bulgaria. And, as reporter Matthew Brunwasser reports, that isn’t sitting well with some of the local humans.
Jan 5th, 2009
January 5, 2009 Memo From Pravda In Eastern Europe, Lives Languish in Mental Facilities By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER PRAVDA, Bulgaria — The name of this isolated spot in the lush Danube plains means justice or, in Russian, truth. But little of either seems to have penetrated the home for men with mental disabilities and illnesses here, a bleak establishment reached most easily by a bone-jarring, six-hour ride from Sofia, the capital. In the Communist era, this is where authorities hid the mentally ill from public view. Today, the Pravda Social Care Home for Men with Mental Disorders, a small complex of scrappy, two-story buildings, is still a favored destination for city folk to send away relatives with a mental illness or disability — and not worry about hearing from them again, employees and residents here say.