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Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election

Jul 6th, 2009

Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election

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.

Kosovo Ex-Prime Minister Arrested on War Crimes

Jun 25th, 2009

Kosovo Ex-Prime Minister Arrested on War Crimes

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.

Memo From Pravda: In Eastern Europe, Lives Languish in Mental Facilities

Jan 5th, 2009

Memo From Pravda: In Eastern Europe, Lives Languish in Mental Facilities

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.

A Bulgarian care center for disabled children excels

Nov 29th, 2008

A Bulgarian care center for disabled children excels

VARNA, Bulgaria — State institutions in Eastern Europe devoted to the care of children and the disadvantaged are most often the subject of negative news stories in Western media. So after the British Broadcasting Corp. aired an upsetting documentary last year about conditions at a home for mentally impaired orphans, advocates for the disabled were relieved they could focus attention on good practices and all point to Karin Dom, a nonprofit day care center for children with mental and physical disabilities.

Macedonia dispute has an Asian flavor

Oct 1st, 2008

Macedonia dispute has an Asian flavor

SKOPJE, Macedonia — It is one of Europe’s most bizarre – and stubborn – international disputes, and certainly the only one that invokes an argument about Asian tribes stretching back to Alexander the Great.

A Book Peels Back Some Layers of a Cold War Mystery

Sep 11th, 2008

A Book Peels Back Some Layers of a Cold War Mystery

September 11, 2009 Sofia Journal A Book Peels Back Some Layers of a Cold War Mystery By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria — It was one of the legends of the cold war: a Bulgarian dissident writer, Georgi Markov, dying in a London hospital of a mysterious fever after being injected with a poison pellet from a specially adapted umbrella as he walked to work across Waterloo Bridge.     A prominent novelist in his native land when he defected to the West in 1969, Mr. Markov had become a journalist at the BBC’s Bulgarian service and an unflinching critic of Communist rule and Bulgaria’s longtime leader, Todor Zhivkov.

Nuclear ambitions fan controversy in Bulgaria

Oct 30th, 2007

Nuclear ambitions fan controversy in Bulgaria

SOFIA — As governments around the world struggle to secure energy supplies, cut carbon emissions and adapt to rising oil prices, Bulgaria has adopted an ambitious solution: Construct a new nuclear power plant, the country’s second, near the northern town of Belene, across the Danube from Romania.

A Ride to the Afterlife

Oct 1st, 2007

A Ride to the Afterlife

story by MATTHEW BRUNWASSER published in Archaeology Magazine Vol 60 Issue 5 STANDING OVER AN EXCAVATED PIT in a lush field between rusting grain silos and an aging dairy, archaeologist Veselin Ignatov explains, in helpfully unscientific language, the difference between two Thracian chariots he has just uncovered. “This one is a Mercedes,” he says, as we look over the remains of a chariot and horses buried in Bulgaria sometime between the first and third centuries A.D. “The other one,” he says, indicating a pit 10 yards away, “is more economy class.”

Doctor Recounts Imprisonment in Libya

Aug 2nd, 2007

Doctor Recounts Imprisonment in Libya

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria, Aug. 1 — In the yard of the Bulgarian presidential residence, on the foothills of Vitosha Mountain, Ashraf al-Hazouz on Tuesday recounted his years of imprisonment and torture in Libya and aired his grievances: the beatings, the electrical charges all over his body, the injection that he was told carried the virus that causes AIDS.

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.