Press – Review – News


Sofia, February 23 (BTA)

COVID-19

Can you have sex immediately after you get vaccinated against COVID-19? Can alcohol drinking reduce the effect of the vaccine, and can you go to a SPA if you were inoculated only recently? These questions are raised in the main story of Troud, which goes on to explain that they came from its readers after the first weekend in which anyone willing could get the jab against the coronavirus using the so-called green lanes, without waiting for the respective phase of the vaccination process while people from the priority groups hesitate.

Virologists and sexologists are adamant that there is no connection between the effect of immunization and normal activities such as sex, visiting a sauna or a swimming pool, or consuming moderate amounts of alcohol. “The immune system functions independently from these activities,” Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kounchev told Nova TV, as quoted by the daily. Reuters is quoted as saying that no reproduction problems have been detected in COVID-vaccinated people.

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US Ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa called on the Bulgarian people not to trust the conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines, MediaPool.bg reports, quoting bTV. The diplomat said: “It is not true that your DNA will change. It is not true that you are being chipped. Vaccination, just like with earlier vaccines, is designed to protect us and is our hope.”

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About 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Bulgaria over the last three days since green lanes were set up for all who want to be immunized, MediaPool.bg reports. Personal physicians joined the vaccination effort on Monday. Twenty-five mobile vaccination teams have been sent to remote communities, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said at a meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The mobile teams will go to places which are off limits to personal physicians.

POLITICS

At least 100,000 Bulgarians who live at an address other than their permanent address have until March 20 to file a request with the respective municipal administration if they want to vote in this other place during the April 4 parliamentary elections, 24 Chassa reports in its main story. It is unclear how many people will choose to vote at their new address. In the run-up to the local elections in 2019, it turned out that 128,000 voters had changed their address. Another 38,000 had returned from abroad and had registered in Bulgaria.

If you have a new permanent address but your name is not included on the updated voters’ list, you need to alert the mayor. University students may cast their ballot in any of the voting sections in the city where their university is situated, the daily says.

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A video titled “Danger Lurks Everywhere” is given prominence on the news website SegaBG.com. It is from the website’s YouTube channel. Strung together, the video captions read as follows:

“Negligence and corruption in Bulgaria kill. We live in a country of ‘checks’ and ‘measures.’ Changes towards more normal living are made after incidents, not until someone dies an absurd death, whether from a wire protruding from a pavement, a lamp falling from the roof of a tunnel, the collapse of an old building, electric current in a fountain, a pothole, an icicle. Danger lurks everywhere.

“A boy was electrocuted on a pavement in downtown Sofia but no one can say when the dangerous cable popped up, and how. As usual, the responsibility is diluted and no one is guilty. The Sofia municipal government has been struggling unsuccessfully against illegal vending booths for years, and yet, one such booth, owned by someone’s crony, is described in the cadastral documents as a ‘building’ and the director of a state-run hospital has done everything to defend the existence of the booth.

“Negligence and lack of control killed a woman in a motorway tunnel four years ago. Again, the measures of the authorities came too late. In 2006, two young women lost their lives due to a lack of control over the repair of an old building at a busy spot in Sofia. Also in 2006, cables in the fountain in Sofia’s Slaveikov Square electrocuted a young man.

“In this part of the world, survival is a matter of luck. If only you had kept your shoes dry on a rainy day! If only you had not looked up – or down – while walking on the street! Responsibility is buried in paperwork and graft. And so until the next incident.”

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Upon learning that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has refused to take questions from journalists for months and has been using his SUV as a kind of studio for communicating with the public via Facebook, Pavol Szalai of the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders asked the Bulgarians, as quoted by SegaBG.com: “Why do you put up with it? Why don’t you react?” Szalai was speaking at a video conference organized by the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament. Another speaker, Karine Barzegar of the French television TV-5 Monde, commented that if the French President behaved like that, he would become the target of a media boycott and would be forced to step down.

One of the moderators at the video conference was Bulgarian journalist and MEP Elena Yoncheva. The event, mottoed: “Media & Artistic Freedom under Attack: Europe Has to Act,” brought together professionals from many European countries. They said the biggest problems are in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Croatia.

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Secondary-school matriculation exams will serve as entrance exams for 41 higher schools for the academic year 2021/2022, the Education and Science Ministry said, as quoted by Troud. This applies to a number of school subjects, including Bulgarian language and literature, mathematics, history and geography. The scoring formula will be determined by the respective higher school. Matriculation exam results will count towards admission to over 20 courses of study at Sofia University and all courses at Sofia’s University of National and World Economy. Medicine and defence will make an exception.

SOFIA-SKOPJE

“How to Get Macedonia to Do It Our Way,” caps an analysis in Douma. The author, Georgi Georgiev, argues that the main flaw of the current Bulgarian government’s policy on the Republic of North Macedonia is that it serves the interests of the United States, not Bulgaria.

He says: “If there is something that really endangers the Bulgarian position on Skopje, it is not so much the failure of the other EU member states to understand the Bulgarian position but the status of the Americans as allies of North Macedonia. Practice shows that the United States has rather strong leverage to influence the Bulgarian political elite. The question is, to what extent the new Democratic administration in the White House will want to increase its role in the so-called Western Balkans, or whether it will leave their future entirely in the hands of Brussels.”

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The appropriation of parts of Bulgarian history and literary heritage by the present-day Establishment in the Republic of North Macedonia has sparked outrage among the Bulgarian public, Troud says in the introduction to an interview with writer Dimiter Tomov. A group of scholars and law experts have embraced Tomov’s idea to sue Skopje for intellectual property theft. He says this can be done by an international public tribunal which will be non-political. The procedure could last between 3 and 5 years.

ECONOMY

The Bulgarian extension of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, for which state-owned Bulgartransgaz has spent 3 billion leva, may never be able to operate at a profit, while Russia’s Gazprom will be the only supplier to send gas through the pipeline, Capital.bg says. The conclusions are based on data from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas.

The data show that for the period from October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2039 Gazprom has booked 100 per cent of the available technical capacity of the pipeline running to Serbia. The capacity has been almost halved compared to what was announced initially. This means that the transit fees will be half of the initially expected sum, because they will be based on the amount of gas transported.

As a result, Gazprom will practically have total control over Bulgaria’s most important gas exit points until the end of 2030. In addition to the pipeline to Serbia, the Russian company has also booked 100 per cent of Bulgaria’s gas exit capacity to Macedonia, Greece (via Koulata) and Turkey (via Strandzha), the website says.

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Bulgarians working in other countries remitted only 339.4 million euro to family members in Bulgaria in the crisis year 2020, Douma says in its main story, citing Bulgarian National Bank data. The sum plummeted by 880 million euro (72 per cent) compared with 2019 – this is money that households in this country could have used for consumption. Unlike in previous years, the money remitted to Bulgaria by expatriates in 2020 was less than the amount of foreign investment, although foreign investment decreased drastically too, by over 50 per cent to 561.7 million euro. The largest amounts of expatriates’ money came from Germany, the United States and Spain.

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Over 700 people give up on second-pension insurance every month and move their bills from the private funds to the National Social Security Institute (NSSI), 24 Chassa reports, citing data from NSSI and the Financial Supervision Commission. The process intensified late last year, when discussions resumed about the phase of paying a second pension. Experts say that uncertainties about what rules will be adopted and exactly by how much the state pension will be reduced are the main reason for people to withdraw from the second (private) pillar of the pension system.

 

BTA





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