Whenever they hear criticism, the Bulgarian politicians blame spiteful journalists or the evil West
Issue 20, May 2008
by Evgenii Dainov; photography by BTA, Anthony Georgieff
Lately, there has been too much state blather regarding the “anti-Bulgarian campaigns carried out by certain circles in the West”. Since the BBC made a documentary about the abandoned, that is dying by the dozen, children in the Mogilino social care home this has been an incessant refrain of the high-ranking officials in this country.
The situation became intoxicating when the president, who is meant to be the exponent of the nation's conscience and morals, joined in.
“An anti-Bulgarian campaign,” he blurted out without having taken the trouble to go and see the situation for himself. This is completely intolerable. Had he asked me (I've known him for 25 years), I would have shown him around these “homes” and “special schools”. After all, as he is perfectly aware, I was the chairman of the board of trustees of such a school in the village where I've lived for 10 years. At least nobody died, many of the children went on to vocational schools, and are today independent artisans.
However, there is not a smidgen of such facts in the national debate. To the contrary, everything is replete with retro pathos worthy of Leonid Brezhnev's era. Remember him, the guy with the bushy eyebrows?
A young interpreter at the European Parliament asked me recently: “I don't remember the Cold War, but isn't this the kind of language they used back then?” I felt sorry for her - she has to interpret the Bulgarian MEPs' gibberish - but there was nothing optimistic I could tell her.
Yes, my dear, this is the kind of language they used - and still use to this day. The “Anti-Bulgarian campaign” soap opera comprises several major episodes.
In 1978 the State Security of the People's Republic of Bulgaria murdered émigré writer Georgi Markov in London as a present for Todor Zhivkov's birthday. For the purpose, it used a new weapon subsequently dubbed the “Bulgarian umbrella”. When Scotland Yard brought this to light, the government's resounding response was: “A vicious anti-Bulgarian campaign.”
Three years later, after a sumptuous sojourn in Bulgaria, notorious Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Ağca riddled the Pope with bullets in St Peter's Square in the Vatican. When Ağca's connections with the Bulgarian secret services became known, it was again “an unparalleled anti-Bulgarian campaign.”
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers