Archive for: Print

As Albania Reckons With Its Communist Past, Critics Say It’s Too Late

Feb 26th, 2017

As Albania Reckons With Its Communist Past, Critics Say It’s Too Late

TIRANA, Albania — When the Rev. Shtjefen Kurti, a 73-year-old Catholic priest, was executed in 1971 for performing a baptism, the Communist authorities didn’t bother to inform his family. Only when his brother tried to take food to him in prison did he learn the priest’s fate. “Don’t come back,” a guard told the brother. “He won’t be needing it anymore.”

A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone

Oct 16th, 2016

A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER BELGRADE, Serbia — The tens of thousands of migrants who have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks need food, water and shelter, just like the millions displaced by war the world over. But there is also one other thing they swear they cannot live without: a smartphone charging station. “Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself,” Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour, Syria, explained as he sat on a broken park bench in Belgrade, staring at his smartphone and plotting his next move into northern Europe.

Steamrolled:  a special investigation into the diplomacy of doing business abroad

Feb 25th, 2015

Steamrolled: a special investigation into the diplomacy of doing business abroad

One of Europe’s poorest countries wanted a road, so U.S. mega-contractor Bechtel sold it a $1.3 billion highway, with the backing of a powerful American ambassador. Funny thing is, the highway is barely being used—and the ambassador is now working for Bechtel. Story by Matthew Brunwasser Photographs by Matthew Lutton

Bloc Party

Feb 25th, 2015

Bloc Party

Chalga music, a blend of Turkish rhythms, Balkan folk, and Europop, has become a polarizing force in the Bulgarian town of Dimitrovgrad, where many residents long for their socialist past

Statue of Memory

Feb 23rd, 2015

Statue of Memory

Bulgaria commemorates a murdered dissident — and takes a symbolic step toward reckoning with its communist past.

Reconnecting Cultures in the Balkans

Aug 1st, 2013

Reconnecting Cultures in the Balkans

In the villages that nestle amid southern Bulgaria’s remote, scenically spectacular, economically underdeveloped Pirin and Rhodope Mountains, Pomaks—Bulgarian Muslims—are reclaiming their name. Marginalized under 45 years of communism, they saw Pomak become “a word you had to feel guilty about,” says Mehmed Boyukli, a leading Pomak analyst. Now, he says, “with the Internet, the term has become acceptable. It has become a symbol of all the cultural heritage we have preserved.”

Protests Trap Bulgarian MPs Inside Parliament

Jul 23rd, 2013

Protests Trap Bulgarian MPs Inside Parliament

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER More than 100 legislators, government ministers, journalists and officials were blockaded inside the Bulgarian Parliament building late Tuesday night and into Wednesday, as the 40th day of largely peaceful street protests in Sofia, the capital, turned confrontational.

After Political Appointment in Bulgaria, Rage Boils Over

Jun 28th, 2013

After Political Appointment in Bulgaria, Rage Boils Over

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria — Delyan Peevski’s mother used to head the national lottery and leads a growing media empire with strong political and economic connections in this small, impoverished and notoriously corrupt Balkan nation. So perhaps it was not surprising that the appointment of Mr. Peevski, 32, to head the powerful State Agency for National Security sparked protests that have been attended by thousands every day over the past two weeks and show no sign of losing steam.

New Bridge Over Danube Helps Dissolve Old Enmities

Jun 14th, 2013

New Bridge Over Danube Helps Dissolve Old Enmities

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER VIDIN, Bulgaria — The European Union hardly basks in popular favor these days. But in this isolated corner of the bloc’s poorest periphery, leaders and locals on Friday celebrated a tangible benefit of membership — a $340 million bridge spanning the Danube that should help strengthen trade and ties between two impoverished members, Romania and Bulgaria.

With Many Despairing, Bulgaria Heads to Polls

May 10th, 2013

With Many Despairing, Bulgaria Heads to Polls

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER VARNA, Bulgaria — Early one morning this past winter, Plamen Goranov, a 36-year-old photographer, stood on the steps of City Hall in this once grand and now crumbling port city on the Black Sea and held up a sign demanding that the mayor and City Council resign. He then took a bottle of gasoline from his backpack, poured it over himself and set himself on fire. He died 11 days later in a hospital.