Tag Archives: Bulgaria

“Of the past let us make a crime…”: Anti-Populism and the Politics of Memory in Bulgarian Liberalism


Notes from the LeftEast editors: this article is published in cooperation with Bilten.Org where it appeared in Serbo-Croatian on the 12/16/2016. Note from the author on the English language publication: In this article I focus on the latest chapter of the ongoing ‘memory wars’ in Bulgarian public and political life. I tease out the demophobic implications of the latest amendment in the 2000 Law that declares Communism a criminal regime. Anti-communism was the staple food of the 1990s democratic opposition: “democracy” was conceived as anti-communist by definition. The more time passes, however, t ..

The Waste Commodity Chains


This article is published in collaboration with the regional portal Bilten. We are habituated to think that polluting things such as garbage normally fall on minorities to deal with in order to keep them as far from us as possible. Thus, conveniently the most “polluting” social classes are tasked with the organization of garbage. For example, in Bulgaria it is the urban Roma work who predominantly for the garbage collection companies. Their symbolic position in social space (as the lowliest and most marginal “caste”) is completed by their inhabiting the physically most marginal spaces in the city and havi ..

The presidential elections in Bulgaria between systemic nationalism and the anti-systemic vote

Title image: Eagle’s bridge in central Sofia. A symbolic site for mass protests and demonstrations since the beginning of the transition. The crossing has seen meetings of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) at the dawn of the transition, of policemen, taxi drivers, ecoactivists… It was one of the basic venues of the civic protests in 2013-14. It was here that the concert-meeting of Slavi’s Show took place, in a last-ditch effort to mobilize support for their referendum before the presidential elections. The event received numerous negative responses, because it was thought to have gathered the country’s nationalists.

November 13th of this year saw the second round of presidential elections in Bulgaria. With an overwhelming majority, General Rumen Radev became Bulgaria’s fifth elected president. the outcome of the presidential elections in Bulgaria came to light. We take this opportunity to analyze the political assumptions surrounding the election results. There are multiple ways to interpret the electoral outcomes. First, as a victory of Russia over the European Union. Second, as rise of the anti-systemic vote (usually meant as a reaction against GERB [2]). Third, as change in the balance between the now-neoliberal-former ..

Banning the Veil in Bulgaria

A woman wearing a veil in the Bulgarian town of Pazardzhik. Photo credit: BBC News.

Note from the LeftEast editors: this article has been published in collaboration with the Serbo-Croat web portal Bilten. Last April Pazardzhik, a Bulgarian town with a population of about 70,000, banned Muslim women from wearing veils. Pazardzhik was followed by Stara Zagora, and proposals for introducing similar prohibitions were made in over a third of the regional cities. It is dubious if municipalities have the constitutional right to introduce regional regulations on clothing, but, regardless, the bans are widely backed. Rumyana Bachvarova, the Minister of Interior, said she supports it because more vigilanc ..

Bulgaria’s Refugee-Hunters


Note from LeftEast editors: This article is published in collaboration with the regional portalBilten. On the 8th of June, 2016 the ZDF broadcast a news report about a paramilitary group, the self-proclaimed Bulgarian Military Union “Vasil Levski”. The piece was shot during a regular “migrant-hunting” operation of the unit in a forest near the border with Turkey. According to the report, by the middle of June there are about 800 individuals taking part in similar groups in Bulgaria. Vigilante groups have three things in common: they push back migrants across the Turkish border, engage in enforcing unlawfu ..

Sofia: the European Center of Information Outsourcing


Note from LeftEast editors: This article is published in collaboration with the regional portal Bilten. Slogans about the “knowledge economy”, “innovation”, “entrepreneurship”, “creativity”, and the “post-industrial” and “information” society are widespread in the EU, and Bulgaria makes no exception. Information technologies are posed as the universal solution to all social ills, a panaceia able to fix everything from lack of economic growth, consumption deficits and ineffective public services to election frauds and corruption. Throughout the last decade, Bulgarian governments of all stri ..

Landgrabs and the EU


Note from the LeftEast editors: this article has been published in collaboration with the Serbo-Croat web portal Bilten.Org In the past few years, particularly after the 2007-8 world food price crisis, there has been a lot of attention to the global expansion of large-scale acquisitions of farmland, or what is usually referred to as land grabs. The investors range from transnational corporations and high-class individual investors to governments. A data set produced by GRAIN, an international NGO that has done influential research on land grabs, documents over 400 cases of large-scale land grabs, covering nearly ..

VIDEO: Jock Palfreeman about Bulgarian Prisons and the Prisoners’ Association (Interview)


Note from the LeftEast editors: This is an interview with Jock Palfreeman, an Australian citizen and prisoner in Blugaria, who is the founder of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association. In 2007 Jock was convicted for the murder of Bulgarian Andrei Monov although claimed that he was trying to help two Roma people that were attacked by a group of fifteen football hooligans. Many details about this night remained unclear to this day. The main witnesses–the two Roma–have disappeared. The surveillance camera footage that could show what happened this night has vanished without a trace. And even if Jo ..

A Nation of Masters?: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Bulgarian Memory Wars

“Death to Turkey” and “Turkey is Not Europe.” Graffiti in Pernik, Bulgaria 2012.

We are grateful to Bilten, where this article will appear in BCS. — “Common sites of memory are not sites of common memory”, prof. Lilyana Deyanova (Obektiv, October 2012) — A few years ago, the Bulgarian sociologist Andrei Raitchev observed that with the establishment of a broad consensus among all parties on the necessity for liberal pro-market reforms, the only scope left for political antagonisms properly so-called, is the past. If the future is irreversibly locked for liberal democracy, then parties can project and act out their differences on the terrain of conflicting interpretati ..

A Lesson in Self-Immolation (Film Review)


Note from the LeftEast editors: a Bulgarian version of this text first appeared on the pages of Kultura weekly newspaper. Christina Grozeva and Peter Valchanov’s The Lesson (2014) is probably the first feature film that explains the Bulgarian winter of discontent in 2013. It tells the story of a “normal” week in the life Nadezhda (Margarita Gosheva), a Bulgarian school teacher from a small town. While she tries to punish one of her students who committed theft in a morally instructive way, life teaches the instructor a much more serious moral lesson. The Lesson is based on a true story from 2010, sensation ..