Sofia, October 13 (BTA)
Multiple publications, including 24 Chassa, Troud and Monitor write that the Supreme Court of Cassation Monday quashed a judgment of the Sofia Appellate Court which recognized the State as the owner of the Tsarska Bistritsa residence. The Supreme Court ruled against the State in its long-standing dispute with the former king and prime minister of Bulgaria between 2001 and 2005, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and his sister Maria-Luisa Chrobok, stating that the residence was paid for by their grandfather, King Ferdinand I, with his own money. This is the first property case in which the court has ruled in favour of the heirs to the royal family. The State has won three property cases. Two more disputes – for the Vrana palace and for forestland in Mount Rila – are still pending.
Telegraf and Monitor report that before Monday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva met with Saudi Aarabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. The meeting was initiated by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Talks at the informal breakfast centred around cooperation, human rights, regional and international issues, security in the Gulf and the situation in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, normalizing relations with Israel and some arabic countries, Turkey’s regional role, Saudi Arabia G20 Presidency and the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Douma writes about an international conference on media freedom in Bulgaria, hosted by BSP for Bulgaria MEP Elena Yoncheva. During the conference, Yoncheva listed the known problems with the media environment – strong political and economic dependence, alarming spread of fake news, damaging the prestige of political opponents, and others. She recalled some of the measures that she believes will help journalism in Bulgaria and in the EU, including the introduction of European standards to increase the transparency and real ownership of the media. The daily’s main focus was on arguments by Pavel Szalay, who said that after a meeting with representatives of the organization Reporters Without Borders, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov promised to take action and that Reporters Without Borders has made proposals to improve the media situation in Bulgaria, but that there has been no feedback for six months, and contact attempts have failed. (The organization focuses on clarifying media ownership, more clarity in the distribution of subsidies and more). 24 Chassa also writes in detail about the conference, noting that no one raised the most important question: ”why was Bulgaria the only country which did not support its media during the coronavirus crisis?”.
Telegraf writes that between 7,000 and 10,000 elderly people are still working 10 years after becoming pensioners. Troud takes an in-depth look at the subject, writing that the number of people, who cannot make the required years of work experience to qualify for a pension, is increasing and that three times more people choose to retire early and receive a reduced pension, according to National Social Security Institute data. The daily quotes former social minister Ivaylo Kalfin, who said that the changes to the pension system implemented since 2017 are demotivating people from participating, including the arbitrary pension ceiling which is currently tied to the maximum social security contribution. He argued that the system could be updated with the money that is currently used to give 50 leva bonus a month to pensioners until March. 24 Chassa is initiating a debate between the present and nine former social ministers on the pension situation and its reforms. Readers are encouraged to send in questions and ideas before the debate and over 200 people did so in the first day. Their main ideas include removing the pension ceiling and increasing all pensions equally, not just the lowest ones as the government is currently considering.
24 Chassa focuses on the COVID-19 development on a several page spread, noting that hospitalized patients have reached 1,205, increasing by 300 in only a week. The daily quotes a professor who predicts between 900 and 1,200 infected a day if measures are not increased. 24 Chassa also reports that according to National Statistical Institute data, 19 753 sick leave days have been issued for quarantine due to COVID-19 from March 13. Over 45,000 people have been quarantined in that period. The daily publishes a full page interview with Chief Health Inspector Angel Kunchev, which focuses on the increase of coronaviris cases, regions with most (Blagoevgrad, Smolyan, Kiystendil and Dobrich) and least infections (Lovech, Vtartsa, Haskovo and Veliko Tarnovo) based on population size, the capabilities of the healthcare system to handle the increasing infections, winter sport and tourism season (no new restrictive measures will be taken because skiing poses little risk as it is practiced outside, but gatherings afterwards can be dangerous), protective measures and COVID-19 test supply.
Sofia Zoo is taking more measures to protect its animals from infection, Troud writes. The monkeys in the establishment can only be observed from the outside of their respective buildings, and entrance inside is not allowed, with the exception of the Monkeys 2 enclosure. That is because the buildings do not allow for two way movement, as per Health Ministry requirements. No animals have been infected so far, but visitors have to adhere to strict rules.
Troud writes that the criteria based on which general practitioners will refer patients to a PCR test are not ready and there is no consensus on the sabject. Doctors are against restrictions on such referrals and are demanding a separate PCR test budget. They also worry about how they will issue referrals, since it is not advisable for patients exhibiting symptoms to visit their office. The implementation of online referrals is being discussed. The daily also quotes Pirogov head Dr. Asen Baltov, who argued in favour of mandatory masks in all indoor spaces and noted that half of Bulgarians are not observing the anti-epidemic measures and believe that COVID-19 is a conspiracy theory.
Troud frontpages a photo of the funeral of former foreign minister General Liuben Gotsev, titled ”General Gotsev Sent Off by the Engineers of the Transition”. The funeral was attended by former SIC head Mladen ”Madzho” Mihalev , who was sighted at a public event for the first time in years, as well as politicians, MPs, bankers, former secret service employees, etc. 24 Chassa and Monitor also mention General Gotsev’s funeral.
Douma reports on its front page that Sofia municipality has lost hundreds of thousands of leva from a private company that has been using its property for years. The mayor’s office has not yet found a way to agree on a way for compensation. The DIT Group company has created a large sports complex on municipal land, which includes the Dragalevtsi stadium. Initially, 3 hectares were given by the municipality for free use to the United Sports Club Levski-Dragalevtsi association. A few months later, however, it entered into an agreement with DIT, although it has no right to sublet the property or have joint ventures with another organization in any form. Since 2009, the private company has been profiting from its activities on property that is privately owned by the municipality.
Douma and Troud write that police officers are prepared to protest if negotiations for raising their salaries are unsuccessful. Their union is outraged that the officers have remained out of the list of departments which are to receive a 30 per cent salary increase from August 1. According to the union, this government decision proves that the high praise given in the public space for police work from the beginning of the pandemic to the present day has been insincere.
Monitor writes about a number of environment-related matters, including a Sofia municipality initiative to exchange old solid fuel heaters for new eco-friendly alternatives for free, with over 5,432 households applying, most in Kremokovtsi, Pancharevo and Novi Iskar. The municipality has resources to exchange 15,000 old heating devices by 2023. The daily also reports that due to complaints by residents, the regional environment and water inspectorate in Plovdiv has ordered the bio electricity plant in the village of Troud to cease activity until it proves that it has taken all anti-pollution measures. Another article notes that stray dogs are kept in cages at the Samokov waste disposal cite until a vet clinic can process and microchip them. Many deem Samokov municipality’s approach to stray dogs unacceptable, but they claim that it is the only possible option due to lack of volunteers and vet capacity. The dogs are reportedly kept at the junk yard because it has 24 hour surveillance and stay there no longer than 48 hours.
Troud publishes a photo of a celebration marking 151 years since the founding of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), which was held at its Prof. Marin Drinov Hall. Guests included BAS Chair Julian Revalski, Akad. Nikola Sabotinov, Prof. Stanislav Stoilov and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova. The daily quotes BAS Chair Revalski, who noted in his speech that the BAS is working tirelessly 7 days a week to support the country in the battle against coronavirus.
24 Chassa writes that ever since there has been no requirement for a PCR test for Bulgarians coming back from Turkey, many have been traveling to Edirne to shop. The Turkish lira drop is making shopping there very cost effective for everything from Turkish delight to furniture. The daily publishes a lengthy piece detailing the travel and shopping experience.
Telegraf writes that on Wednesday the many Bulgarian churches named after St. Petka will mark their holiday. On the occasion, the relics of St. Petka are being transferred to the Sofia St. Petka church in Orlandovtsi. Relics from St. Ekaterina will also be transferred. The daily also writes that the first Bulgarian spiritual centre for social rehabilitation and integration of children will be baptized personally by Patriarch Neophyte. He and Social Minister Denitsa Sacheva will officially open the centre on Tuesday in Elin Pelin.