Sofia

NATO chief vows support for allies along Russian border

Anders Fogh RasmussenSofia, April 12 - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Friday pledged to strengthen the shield along the border with Russia, and urged allies to increase their military budgets.

"We are taking legitimate steps to reinforce our support to Allies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea," Xinhua quoted Rasmussen, who paid a day-long visit to Bulgaria, as saying in a joint press conference with the country's Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin.

NATO has stepped up practical and political support to Ukraine, to bolster its defense capacity within the framework of their partnership, he said.

Bulgaria closes schools to curb flu outbreak

Bulgaria closes schools to curb flu outbreakSofia  - Bulgarian health authorities said Friday that they ordered schools to remain closed Monday in order to try to curb the spread of swine flu.

As the number of the infected continued to rise quickly, the government also said hospitals were to delay any scheduled operations and declared a state of emergency in Sofia and 14 other regions.

Health Minister Bozhidar Nanev estimated that some 100,000 of 7.6 million Bulgarians have become infected with the H1N1 strain of influenza. So far, six patients have succumbed to complications stemming from swine flu.

Bulgarian gang hides heroin in pickled cabbage

Bulgarian gang hides heroin in pickled cabbage Sofia - Bulgarian police in Plovdiv had to dig into plastic barrels of pickled cabbage to find 50 kilos of heroin hidden at the bottom of the containers, reports said Thursday.

Eight people were arrested in connection with the 110 packets of heroin hidden in the barrels of cabbage, traditionally prepared and sold in the autumn throughout the Balkans, the BTA news agency said.

As the south-eastern tip Europe on the border with Turkey and Asia, Bulgaria is the gateway for underground groups smuggling narcotics and chemicals in both directions.

RWE withdraws from Bulgarian nuclear plant project

RWE withdraws from Bulgarian nuclear plant projectSofia/Essen - German utility giant RWE confirmed Wednesday that it had bowed out of a project to build a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

RWE said the cancellation of the contract would cost it "in low double-digit millions" of euros and does not mean the end of the Belene project.

In Bulgaria, the executive of the Bulgarian Energy Holding, Galina Tosheva, said the "two main reasons" for RWE's withdrawal were financial and organizational uncertainties.

Five Bulgarian schools closed because of swine flu

Five Bulgarian schools closed because of swine flu Sofia - Five schools in Bulgaria were shut down because of swine flu, the Bulgarian Health Ministry said Wednesday.

Four schools in Tryavna in central Bulgaria and one school in the country's southeast were closed after a large number of children called in sick.

Media report meanwhile said a 32-year-old man succumbed to the H1N1 virus in Sofia. He is Bulgaria's second victim of the new virus. (dpa)

Bulgaria police bust sale of newborn babies in Greece

Bulgaria police bust sale of newborn babies in GreeceSofia  - Bulgarian police reported Thursday that they had broken up a scheme for selling Bulgarian babies in Greece.

The system operated by transporting pregnant women to Greece, where they gave birth to children, who were then sold.

The interior ministry in Sofia said the gang had organized up to five such trips per year since 2006.

The women were paid 5,000 euros (7,500 dollars) for their babies. The Bulgarian couple, who allegedly organized the business took a 3,000-euro cut, have been arrested.

Bulgarian customs seize 28 kg of heroin at border

Bulgarian customs seize 28 kg of heroin at borderSofia  - Bulgarian customs agents Friday seized a shipment of 28 kilograms of heroin on the border with Serbia, the Interior Ministry said.

The drugs, with a street value of 1.7 million euros (2.4 million dollars), were found stashed beneath the front seats of a car belonging to a Bulgarian who once previously, in
2000, had been arrested for smuggling heroin.

Bulgaria lies on one of the chief routes for drug smuggling between the Balkans and western Europe. Last year the country seized about one tonne of heroin.(dpa)

Stanishev set to remain Socialist leader despite election disaster

Stanishev set to remain Socialist leader despite election disaster Sofia - Bulgaria's Socialists on Sunday are to hold their first party congress since a catastrophic defeat in parliamentary elections swept them out of power, but there is no leadership change in sight.

The Socialist-led government ushered Bulgaria into the European Union in 2007, but was so plagued by corruption scandals that it won only 40 of 240 seats in the July elections - fewer mandates than in any poll since since the fall of Communism two decades ago.

First swine flu death in Bulgaria

First swine flu death in Bulgaria Sofia - Bulgarian health authorities on Wednesday reported the country's first death from swine flu, after a 30-year old man succumbed to the illness.

The man from the town of Samokov, 50 kilometres south of Sofia, showed symptoms of the flu on September 19 and was transferred to a clinic in the capital on September 23. His condition, complicated by pneumonia, then deteriorated.

Not including the fatality, there are 78 registered cases of H1N1 in Bulgaria. According to official statements, all of these patients are doing well. (dpa)

New UNESCO head promises reforms to cut bureaucracy

New UNESCO head promises reforms to cut bureaucracy Sofia  - Bulgarian diplomat Irina Bokova, the new head of the United Nations culture, science and education agency UNESCO, said on Wednesday that the body "needs reforms" and sent a conciliatory message to the Arab world after defeating an Egyptian favoured for the post.

The 57-year old career diplomat on Tuesday became the first woman to lead UNESCO after winning a hard-fought campaign against controversial Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny.

Sofia synagogue celebrates centenary as Jews rediscover heritage

Sofia synagogue celebrates centenary as Jews rediscover heritageSofia  - Two decades ago, Jews could not have traditional Jewish weddings in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, because there was no mikwa, the place for ritualistic purifying baths of women and men. So Jews who wanted to marry according to tradition mostly travelled abroad for their ceremony.

But today, the freshly renovated, magnificent synagogue has all it needs, including the mikwa, so it can serve as the hub of the invigorated Jewish community in Sofia and Bulgaria.

Bulgaria queries release of British football fan

Bulgaria queries release of British football fanSofia  - Bulgaria's ambassador to London has queried Britain's decision to release and pardon a British football fan convicted of the murder of a Bulgarian football fan, media in Sofia reported Thursday.

Michael Shields, 22, was released on Wednesday, four years in to a 10-year sentence for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian national following a Liverpool FC game.

Shields has always denied the charge. He was transferred from a Bulgarian jail to a British prison in 2006.

New Bulgarian government to replace EU commissioner Kuneva

New Bulgarian government to replace EU commissioner KunevaSofia  - The new Bulgarian government does not plan to nominate European Union Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva for another term, Deputy Premier Tsvetan Tsvetanov said Wednesday in Sofia.

The government plans to "make its own nomination - and it will not be Meglena Kuneva," Tsvetanov, who is also interior minister, told the Bulgarian radio.

Kuneva became Bulgaria's first-ever EU commissioner when the previous, Socialist-led government nominated her on the country's accession to EU in 2007.

EU set to unfreeze aid for Bulgaria, minister says

EU set to unfreeze aid for Bulgaria, minister says Sofia - The European Union is set to unblock 140 million euros (200 million dollars) from aid programmes for Bulgaria suspended since last year over widespread corruption in the Balkan country, Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov said Monday.

Naydenov met the EU Farming Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in Brussels and said later that the EU Commission - the EU's executive arm - was to announce the decision to unblock the funds on Thursday, Bulgarian state radio reported.

Madonna leaves damaged pitch for Bulgaria-Montengro match

Madonna leaves damaged pitch for Bulgaria-Montengro match Sofia - Bulgaria's coach lashed out Thursday, two days ahead of a crunch World Cup qualifier against Montenegro, over the condition of the pitch at the match venue, the Vasil Levski stadium.

The grass has been badly damaged by tens of thousands of fans at the pop-queen Madonna's concert and cannot be recovered despite an intense watering and fertilizing programme, officials said.

Archaeologists discover relics of medieval saint in Bulgarian fortress

Archaeologists discover relics of medieval saint in Bulgarian fortressSofia (Bulgaria), September 3 : A team of archaeologists has discovered the relics of a medieval saint at the fortress of Perperikon in the Rhodoppe Mountains in Bulgaria.

According to Sofia News Agency, the remains of human bones were found inside one of two bronze crosses as the archaeologists were excavating two churches.

One of the crosses is larger and has an life-like image of the crucified Jesus Christ on its front, and an image of Virgin Mary praying on its back. It is dated back to 10-11th century.

Austrian instead of Turkish firms to build dam in Bulgaria

BulgariaSofia  - The Bulgarian government on Wednesday agreed to replace a Turkish company with an Austrian consortium to finally build a much-delayed power plant.

Bulgaria originally signed the contract for the 500-million-euro (715-million-dollar) hydroelectric plant in southern Bulgaria with Turkey's Ceylan conglomerate in 1998.

But the project for the 178-megawatt Gorna Arda plant never got off the ground, amidst unresolved financial issues.

Now Ceylan is set to sell its 30-per-cent stake in the project to a consortium of the Austrian energy and construction companies EVN and Alpine Bau, paving the way for the construction to go ahead.

Bulgaria seizes 80 kilos of heroin, arrests Serb driver

Bulgaria seizes 80 kilos of heroin, arrests Serb driver Sofia  - Bulgarian police said Wednesday they had seized 80 kilos of heroin hidden in a lorry arriving from Turkey, and arrested the Serbian driver.

Customs officials at the Kapitan Andreevo crossing found the narcotics hidden under the sleeping bunk of the lorry Tuesday evening, according to a police statement.

While the catch - estimated to have a street value of some 4 million dollars - was sizable, it is not unusual in Bulgaria, which is the gateway of drug smugglers travelling from Asia to Europe.

Unique 10th century Byzantine seal discovered in Bulgaria

Unique 10th century Byzantine seal discovered in BulgariaSofia (Bulgaria), August 24 : Archaeologists in Bulgaria have discovered a unique medieval Byzantine seal at the site of the Princely Monastery near the Eastern city of Varna, dating back to the 10th century.

According to a report by the Sofia News Agency, the seal is dated back to the 10th century and belonged to the Byzantine dignitary Antonius, who was an imperial protospatario in Constantinople.

Bulgaria seizes almost 100 kilos of heroin en route to Europe

Bulgaria seizes almost 100 kilos of heroin en route to Europe Sofia  - Bulgarian customs officials have seized almost 100 kilos of heroin in two shipments from Turkey, it was announced in Sofia Saturday.

A package of 73 kilos was found in a mini-bus owned by a Romanian citizen and an additional 24.4 kilos was seized from a bus on a regular line from Istanbul to destinations in Bulgaria. No other details were given.

Syndicate content