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Bulgarian report Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-11-08 10:30:23
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Patriarch Maxim, Orthodox leader of Bulgaria, dies at 98

Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, who weathered a revolt over his Communist-era ties to lead his country’s Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years, died here on Tuesday. He was 98. The cause was heart failure, the Holy Synod said in a statement.  Orthodox Christianity is Bulgaria’s dominant religion, followed by more than 80 percent of the country’s 7.4 million people. Patriarch Maxim’s tenure as the church’s leader bridged the country’s transition from Communism, and he withstood efforts to oust him by the new democratic government and by rebel priests who saw him as a Communist ally.  Born Marin Naidenov Minkov on Oct. 29, 1914, he graduated from the Sofia Seminary in 1935 and entered Sofia University’s theology department in 1938, before rising through the church ranks to be named patriarch on July 4, 1971.

After the collapse of Communism in 1989, Bulgaria’s new democratic government sought to replace Communist-appointed figureheads, including the patriarch. The church split between supporters of Patriarch Maxim and breakaway clergymen, who tried to oust him and then formed their own synod.  The division plunged the church into turmoil, with church buildings being occupied, priests breaking into fistfights on church steps, and water cannons and tear gas being turned on rebel bishops to clear the main St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia. For more than a decade the two synods existed side by side. The schism ended in 2010, when the head of the alternative synod called for healing and the synod was dissolved.

Patriarch Maxim was hailed for meeting with Pope John Paul II during the pontiff’s visit to Sofia in 2002, a trip seen as warming the frosty relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican. The Holy Synod of 13 senior clergy members will choose an interim patriarch until a larger Church Council is held within four months to pick Patriarch Maxim’s successor, church officials said.


Bulgaria's history museum is going to exhibit a "vampire" skeleton

Bulgaria's history museum is going to exhibit a "vampire" skeleton next week after uncovering the 700-year-old remains of two men stabbed through the chest with iron rods.

Archaeologists, dug up a monastery located around the Black Sea city of Sozopol, discovered the skeletons which were buried in a pagan ritual. It is claimed that the pagan ritual was meant to keep men from transforming into vampires.

"This was a pagan belief widespread in the Bulgarian lands in the 12th to 14th centuries. People were very superstitious then," National History Museum head Bozhidar Dimitrov informed.
"Throughout the country we have found over 100 such 'vampire' burials of mainly noblemen from the Middle Ages who were branded bloodsucking immortals."


Bulgaria PM Postpones Plans to Build National Stadium

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has rejected earlier plans to build a new national stadium, saying that it is not the right time. In an interview for private TV station TV7, Borisov was adamant that Bulgaria needed no new stadium given that football matches were attended by 80 to 100 fans. He said that it would make no sense to spend 40-50 or even 100 million leva on a stadium that would stay empty, citing the new national stadium in Bucharest as a negative example. Borisov insisted that the Arena Armeetz multifunctional sports hall in Sofia was a different case.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister said that Arena Armeetz hosted a number of races and concerts and managed to attract a substantial audience. Sofia's Arena Armeetz, which seats up to 12 000 visitors for sports events and up to 18 000 visitors for concerts was inaugurated in end-July 2011. Borisov told TV7 that a number of sports halls in cities like Plovdiv, Ruse, Botevgrad, Ruse, and Yambol were being built or repaired.

One year ago, Sports Minister Svilen Neykov announced that Bulgaria's new national stadium would be built in Sofia's Vrazhdebna residential district. In May 2011, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said that the government was ready to spend BGN 140 M on a new national stadium or on the repair of the existing one, without specifying where the money would come from. The idea for the construction of a new national stadium was first brought up in the autumn of 2009, when Neykov said that the government planned to start the construction of a new national stadium that would meet international standards for hosting football matches after the completion of the sports arena.


Bulgaria's far right demands ban of ethnic Turkish party

Bulgaria's far-right party "Ataka" has started a petition among the Members of Parliament in order to ask the Constitutional Court to declare the ethnic Turkish party DPS ("Movement for Rights and Freedoms") unconstitutional. The reason for Ataka's motion is Monday's statement of Bulgarian ethnic Turkish leader Ahmed Dogan who likened the Balkan War of 1912-1913 in which Bulgarian, Serbian, Greek, and Montenegrin forces liberated much of the Balkans from the Ottoman Empire to the so called Revival Process (or Regeneration Process) – the assimilation campaign against Bulgarian Turks undertaken by the Bulgarian Communist Party regime in the late 1980s.

Ataka leader Volen Siderov called upon the media to boycott the statements of the DPS party, and promised to appeal to all but DPS MPs as well as the President and the Ombudsman in order to table a petition to the Bulgarian Constitutional Court for the ban of the ethnic Turkish party. The nationalists argue that under Bulgaria's Constitution political parties based on religions or ethnicities are illegal. "It is now clear that DPS is not just an ethnically- and religiously-based parties but it is also involved in seditious activities. With his statement that the Balkan War is "war for ethnic cleansing and other forms that we later defined as variations of the Revival Process", Ahmed Dogan proved that for him the Liberation of Bulgaria from the domination, yoke of the Ottoman Empire was not a positive thing," Siderov declared.

According to the leader of Ataka, the head of the DPS party expresses the point of view of the Ottoman Empire, and later of Turkey, which "is today absolutely indisputably conducting a neo-Ottomanist policy." Siderov urged the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister, and Parliament Chair to react immediately to Dogan's statement. Dogan's statement comes just weeks after Bulgaria marked the 100 year since the start of its victorious war against the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the Second Bulgarian Empire in the late 14th centuries and ruled the Bulgarian lands and people for almost 500 years – a period widely seen as shameful and denigrating by the Bulgarians, and known as Ottoman or Turkish Yoke.

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