Hundreds of thousands without heating in the Balkans

Bulgaria MapBelgrade/Sofia - Gas shortages triggered by the Russia- Ukraine row over payments have left tens of thousands of families in Serbia and Bulgaria without the ability to heat their homes at a time of freezing cold.

While most Serbian plants have switched or were in the process of switching from natural gas to oil, some - as in the cities of Novi Sad and Pancevo, servicing some
120,000 people - have shut down as gas supplies were exhausted, reports said.

Bulgaria presses EU for permission to restart old reactors

Bulgaria MapSofia - Hit hard by the Russia-Ukraine gas row, Bulgaria on Tuesday stepped up the pressure for permission to re-start its old nuclear reactors, shut down in 2006 amid European safety concerns.

"We must prepare without delay to re-start the third reactor at Kosloduy," President Georgi Parvanov said. Bulgaria shut down two 440-megawatt, Soviet-era reactors shortly before it joined the European Union in 2007, meeting Brussels' demands.

Two even older reactors were turned off in 2002.

Parvanov said the accession contract with the EU allows Bulgaria to revive the two newer reactors in case of a crisis.

Russia-Ukraine gas row hits the Balkans hard

Russia-Ukraine gas row hits the Balkans hard Sofia - The row between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas deliveries hit the Balkans hard Tuesday, with Bulgaria and Croatia reporting a total supply stoppage and Romania a two-thirds drop.

The Bulgarian supplier Bulgargaz said delivery was terminated at Ukraine's border with Romania in the early morning, which also affected the transit of gas to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.

The Bulgarian government was in an emergency session to discuss the crisis, as supplies may last only a few days.

Russian gas supply to Balkans terminated

Russian gas supply to Balkans terminatedSofia - The flow of Russian gas supply was terminated at the Ukrainian-Romanian border Tuesday morning, cutting off supply to Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, the Bulgarian supplier Bulgargaz said.

Bulgaria, which covers more than 90 per cent of its needs in gas from Russia, has reserves for a few days, it said.

The Bulgarian energy authorities have already held an urgent meeting and Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev scheduled an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the situation. (dpa)

Bulgarian skating champion jailed for deadly drunk-driving crash

Maxim StaviskiSofia - Former ice-skating world champion Maxim Staviiski is to spend 2.5 years in prison after an appeals court Monday overturned a lighter, suspended sentence handed to him for a deadly traffic accident he caused 16 months ago.

The court in the Black Sea port of Burgas said Staviiski must serve time for driving his massive jeep into another car in August 2007, killing a 24-year old man and gravely injuring an 18-year old girl, who remains in a coma and in a hospital in Israel.

Europe’s most ancient civilization discovered in Bulgaria

BulgariaSofia (Bulgaria), Dec 31 : A team of archaeologists has found the most ancient civilization in Europe, near Yunatsite village, Pazardzhik District, in Bulgaria.

In 2008, a joint Bulgarian-Greek team had excavated the layers of a tomb that date back from the Halcolite age.

After finding the skeleton of a young woman, they have now found the fortifying system that includes a big 5m wide wall that has surpassed the settlement, according to a report by Focus News Agency.

Bulgarian police in second protest for more pay

Sofia - Police officers in Bulgaria on Sunday staged a second demonstration in a week for higher pay and better gear.

More than 500 officers gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in Sofia alone.

Heeding a call via the internet to "drink water," they carried bottles of mineral water.

Some officers displayed their worn boots to highlight their demand for better winter clothing.

Similar protests took place in other cities, such as Pleven and Silistra in the north, as well as Haskovo and Smoljan in the south.

Their demands follow a first protest that saw Christmas pay of 280 dollars being pledged.

German RWE signs 1.8-billion-dollar Bulgarian nuclear deal

RWE LogoSofia - German energy giant RWE launched a joint venture Friday with the Bulgarian NEK to develop the Balkan country's second nuclear power plant.

The Essen-based company would invest 1.275 billion euros (1.84 billion dollars) for a 49-per-cent stake in the venture, the government in Sofia said.

The project with RWE would have an "enormous" impact for Bulgaria in context of the global financial crisis, Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev said after the contract was signed.

Bulgaria appointed RWE as the strategic partner in the development of the plant at Belene on the Danube.

Christmas for Bulgaria because of corruption

No Christmas for Bulgaria because of corruptionSofia  - Bulgarian officials complained how the European Union stole their Christmas when it cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies because of fraud, but instead of putting thieves in prison, they blamed the global financial crisis.

After repeated warnings to its poorest member-state that subsidies aimed at improving the life of Bulgarians were being drained as a result of fraud, the EU in July suspended the payment of 486 million euros for various projects and demanded action from Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev's cabinet.

At least one dead in Balkan storms

Bulgaria MapSofia/Skopje - Severe storms killed at least one person Thursday night as they whipped through Macedonia and Bulgaria.

The storms came after a bout of unseasonably warm weather that included the warmest-ever December day on record in Bulgaria, local media reported Friday.

At least one elderly woman died and another was missing Friday, following storms and flash floods in Macedonia late Thursday, reports said in Skopje.

In Bulgaria, daytime temperatures on Thursday shot above 20 degrees. It was warmest in Veliko Tarnovo, in central Bulgaria, with an incredible 28.6 degrees celsius.

P.M.: Bulgaria in first capitalist crisis

SOFIA, Bulgaria, Dec. 5 - Bulgaria is experiencing its first economic crisis as a capitalist country, Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev said Thursday.

Stanishev suggested that Bulgaria's problems are actually less severe than those of other members of the European Union, the Sofia News Agency reported. He said, for example, that the banking system is not in the kind of crisis that other countries face as a result of the collapse of the credit bubble.

But the country is not immune to the difficulties facing its economic partners, he added.

Bulgaria should not contribute to EU recovery plan, official says

Bulgaria should not contribute to EU recovery plan, official says Sofia  - Bulgaria should not take part in financing the European Union's emergency economic recovery package, a top official said Friday in Sofia.

"It is out of place to finance the European economy with Bulgarian money," the head of the parliamentary budget and finance committee, Rumen Ovcharov, told the private Nova television.

Bulgaria squanders millions as EU corruption clampdown continues

BulgariaBrussels - Bulgaria has missed the chance to claim 220 million euros (280 million dollars) in European Union funds because of ongoing corruption problems, the first time an EU state has ever suffered such a loss, officials in Brussels said Tuesday.

The EU's executive, the European Commission, has decided that Bulgaria's authorities still cannot be trusted with the money, and it is therefore "too late" for the country to award the funds to contractors before a November 30 deadline, commission enlargement spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy told journalists.

Corruption-plagued Bulgaria convicts two officials for graft

Sofia, BulgariaSofia - A Sofia court late Monday sentenced two officials from the Bulgarian road agency for corruption, providing a legal epilogue to one of the scandals which deprived the poorest European Union member state of development funds in 2008.

The court sentenced Lybomir Lilev, the man who was in charge of distributing EU funds, and his subordinate Ivan Vladimirov for demanding a bribe to implement a project.

Bulgarian premier re-elected as head of Socialist party

Sofia  - Bulgarian Premier Sergei Stanishev has been re- elected as chairman of the governing Socialist party, the country's election commission said Sunday.

The commission said that Stanishev won 809 votes from among the 853 delegates at the party's congress, confirming him to another term as head of Bulgaria's oldest and largest political party.

Stanishev, 42, has headed the Socialist party since 2001. He proclaimed his goal of leading the party to victory again in national and Europan parliament elections in 2009.

Bulgaria must start convicting corrupt officials, EU warns

BulgariaSofia  - The chief executive of the European Union's anti- fraud watchdog OLAF warned Bulgaria Thursday that it must begin convicting corrupt officials, or risk losing the battle against organized crime.

OLAF director Franz-Hermann Bruener met Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev, Deputy Premier in Charge of EU Funds Management Meglena Kuneva and other officials and press to review the results in probes into embezzlement of development aid sent by Brussels.

Serbia thump Bulgaria as Wales win in Denmark

Hamburg  - Serbia demolished Bulgaria 6-1 in an international friendly in Belgrade Wednesday and could even afford the luxury of missing two penalties as Savo Milosevic bade farewell to the national side.

Serbia's Milosevic netted twice and missed two early spot kicks in his 102nd and final appearance for his country before being substituted by Dragan Mrdja. Milan Jovanovic also scored a brace while Blagoy Georgiev got on the scoresheet for the disappointing Bulgarians.

Craig Bellamy scored the only goal of the game to give Wales a 1-0 victory away to Denmark in Copenhagen, firing in a low shot from 20 metres after 77 minutes.

Bulgaria seizes 70-kilo heroin shipment

Bulgaria seizes 70-kilo heroin shipmentSofia - Bulgarian police seized a 70-kilo shipment of heroin and arrested a German national carrying it, the authorities in Sofia said Monday.

The man with two packets of the drug in a bunker of his car was arrested in Ruse, a town with the only bridge linking Bulgaria with Romania across the Danube.

Bulgaria straddles the key routes of international trafficking in narcotics, chemicals for drug-production and people. It incinerated 19 tons of various drugs over the past eight years.

Head of Roman emperor’s statue discovered in a package

Sofia (Bulgaria), Nov 17: The marble head of a statue of a Roman emperor was delivered in the National History Museum (NHM) in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, from “Sofia Airport – Customs”.

The head, most probably representing Octavian August, was found in a package sent from Haskovo to Western Europe.

It was part of a sculpture or a bust of the famous Roman emperor who conquered Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

According to NHM’s director Bozhidar Dimitrov, this is a piece of art with excellent qualities and the work of a master, probably dating back from I c. A. C.

“Findings of such a magnitude arrive once every 25 years”, said Dimitrov. (ANI)

Quakes jolt Bulgarian capital

Quakes jolt Bulgarian capitalSofia - Officials in Sofia ordered checks on buildings Sunday after two small earthquakes jolted the Bulgarian capital overnight, causing minor damage but no casualties. 

Some 2,000 worried residents called an emergency number for advice after the quakes measuring 4 and 3.5 on the Richter scale struck on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. 

The capital lies in an area at risk from earth tremors. Many buildings in the city have been converted to restaurants and business premises in recent years, raising fears about their safety. 

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