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355. No demand for panel buildings in Bulgaria's capital - real estate agency report

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-23

Prices of new apartments in some areas of Sofia have dropped so dramatically, that they have pushed apartments in panel-blocks out of the market, according to real estate agency Yavlena.

A recent research by Yavlena, quoted by Investor.bg, showed that in some areas of Bulgaria's capital real estate is offered for sale mostly by those who urgently need money, while buyers are those who urgently need a home. The only exceptions, according to Yavlena, were people who had money to invest in real estate and who manage to close deals at prices up to 20 per cent below those of early 2008.

In one of the most sought-after parts of the city, the southern boroughs, final sales prices are generally only up to five per cent below asking price and were still in the 1050 to 1250 euro a sq m range, Yavlena said.

In the city centre, where prices in early 2008 could reach 3000 to 6000 euro a sq m, prices were currently around 2000 euro a sq m and rarely was the final sales price different from the asking price, Yavlena said.

In Studentski Grad (Student Town) prices for two-room apartments did not change much, while in the Iztok borough they went down from a little more than 100 000 euro in early 2008 to between 75 and 95 000 in early 2009.

Outside Sofia, in Veliko Tarnovo demand for more expensive housing had increased, while the average price a sq m had gone down slightly, Yavlena said. In villages around Veliko Tarnovo, newly built houses had mostly been bought up by Russians, Yavlena said.

In Bourgas, sales were also down, while the average sales price a sq m had gone down from 802 euro in early 2008 to 703 euro a sq m in early 2009, Yavlena said.

354. Austrias WBG to build biomass plant in Ihtiman

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-22

Austrian company WBG has tested its 4 million euro biomass power plant, which will heat public and private buildings in the town of Ihtiman near Sofia, Ilko Yotsev, managerial agent of the firms Bulgarian unit, told Bulgarian daily Dnevnik.

The facility would have a rated capacity of 3 MW that may be expanded to 10 MW and run on 10,000 tonnes of wood waste a year.

The investor has deployed an eight-kilometer heating distribution network and installed a cutting-edge plant room control technology.

Heating would reach the first consumers within ten days from testing completion, according to Yotsev.

Tariffs were estimated to be some 30 per cent lower than those of Bulgarias conventional gas-fired heating utilities.

The company planned to have 20 MW of biomass energy capacities across the country to help reduce its dependence on gas supplies, Yotsev said.

The new plant was operated by local firm Bio Energy.

353. Zift to open the Days of Bulgarian Cinema in Prague

News BG: 2009-01-21

The movie "Zift" by Yavor Gardev will open the Days of Bulgarian Cinema in the Czech Republic tonight at 8.30 p.m. in the central Prague cinema "Svetozor".

Before the official opening at 6.45 p.m., the documentary "The black and white movies translator" by Teddy Moskov and the short movie "Hidden" by Stefan Valdobrev.

The organizer of the event is the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Prague, the Ministry of Culture press-centre announced.

The Bulgarian programme will continue until January 22. The viewers will be able to select between the most successful movies from Bulgaria in the recent years. The vent will include the special guest appearances of Yavor Gardev and Stefan Valdobrev.

Bulgraian cinema will also be repsresented by "Sewers" by Lyudmil Todorv, "Investigation" by Iglika Trifonova, and "Passage Number 8" by Boris Despodov.

352. Thousands of visitors since the opening of Picasso exhibition in Sofia

News BG: 2009-01-20

Only a month after the official opening of the "I don't seek. I find: Pablo Picasso", 71 originals works by Picasso, 11 ceramics copies and 24 photographs, taken by Lucien Clerg, were seen by more than 20 000 people according to the National Gallery of Foreign Art's statistics.

The bad weather and the various holidays did not stop art lovers to enjoy Pablo Picasso's original works. The 81 pieces, gathered at one place for the first time, will be exhibited in Bulgaria until March 15.

The collection belongs to some of the most precious collections of Picasso in Mallaga, Barcelona and Madrid.

Organizers of the "I don't seek. I find" exhibition are "Barouh and Partners" with the financial support of M-Tel.

Only during the first month, the free service "Audioguide" which gives details on a particular work, has registered over 5254 calls.

A separate premise with posters for all current exhibitions of Picasso throughout the world is opened in the gallery.

The "I don't seek. I find" exhibition will be in the National Gallery for Foreign Arts, Sofia until March 15.

351. Squat for culture

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-19

There is this one simple, golden rule for whenever you find yourself at the receiving end of sarcasm and ridicule - at least for those of us who do not have the sense of humor to gracefully deal with the situation; whatever you do, do not react. Keep you head up, if necessary laugh about it, but above all, let it slide.

Someone forgot to tell Bulgarian state officials.

As if, after the rounds of denial that inevitably follow every single critical EU report about the absence of any progress in Bulgaria's fight against organised crime and corruption it was still necessary, the artwork by Czech artist David Cerny which portrayed Bulgaria as a Turkish toilet, has shown once and for all that Bulgarian officials are truly selected for their inability to deal with criticism and completely and utterly lack any sense of humor.

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the country's policy (or lack thereof) on contemporary culture can not be the least bit surprised by the official reactions.

The Culture Ministry, who, when it was invited to propose a programme to present Bulgaria at Europalia in Brussels several years ago could not come up with anything better than yet another exhibition of Thracian gold and a folk dance group (and this only well past deadline), only seemed to have one concern: make sure it would not be associated with the artwork or the Bulgarian artist who allegedly took part in the project.

The reaction of Bulgarian officials in cases like this can be summed up in three words: deny, deny, deny.

Deny you have had anything to do with it.

Deny its right to exist (in this case demand it to be taken down).

Deny it ever existed in the first place.

Bulgarian daily Dnevnik summarised the position of the Culture Ministry in three brilliant words; "Niamame nishto obshto" (We have had nothing to do with it).

Unfortunately, the same could be said for the ministry's involvement in almost anything that has happened in contemporary art in Bulgaria the past decade or so.

In real life however, I have yet to meet the first Bulgarian who is upset, offended, outraged or even mildly "not amused" by the artwork.

Bulgarian artists meanwhile started an online petition against what they call the censorship of David Cherny, demanding that Bulgaria would immediately retract its demand to have the offending artwork taken down, or in case it has been taken down to have it immediately restored.

In the petition the artists said Bulgaria's demand to take down the artwork amounts to censorship and an infringement on freedom of speech, and was a demonstration of a lack of cultural understanding or even a lack of culture of those who have been elected to run this country

Meanwhile, the young socialists, this time organised in a club that, in a media statement sent out via email with a half-dozen pictures attached, called itself the Discussion Club for Social and Local Policy, and who are always ready to please the powers-that-be in the mother-party, presented already beleaguered Czech ambassador Klepetko, with toilet bowl. If this is the extent of intelligent contribution to a debate on culture we can expect from the next generation in that party, we do have something to worry about.

Balchik mayor Angelov showed he had completely lost contact with reality when he invited Cherny to Bulgaria "so he could see for himself that Bulgaria could be associated with many more pleasant things than a toilet." Maybe Angelov had not gotten on to the fact that it was exactly Cherny's childhood visits to the country that left him with the image of the toilet?

Mister Angelov, when was the last time you saw the inside of a public toilet in this country? And what memory do you think it would take to wipe out that experience?

If any of the officials who are playing upset now, would care half as much next time the culture budget was discussed, artists, cultural institutions and contemporary art in this country would be in a different state.

350. St Atanass Day 18 January

News BG: 2009-01-18

Name day for: Atanas, Atanaska (like our Atanas, night guard at Buy & Sell Bulgarias office, who also has a birthday). Happy Name day Nasko and Many Happy Returns!

On January 18 the Orthodox Church honors St. Atanasii The Great, who lived from 293/ 298 until 373. Atanass Day is a holiday connected with the New Years rites. According to the Christian beliefs St. Atanas is the ruler of snow and ice. Dressed in a silk shirt he ascends the mountain riding his white horse and exclaims: Go away, winter, come again, summer! Thats why this holiday is also known as the Mid-winter. Atanass Day is a holiday of the blacksmiths, ironmongers, cutters and shoeing smiths as well as a holiday of the illnesses. This day is observed to show respect to the pest and other contagious diseases, which are called with the taboo name sweet and honey ones. The winter Day of St. Athanasius is also known as Midwinter or the Pests Day. The second name is connected with the belief that the pest was born at that time. After the Day of St. Athanasius healers went to the villages to exterminate people. Therefore early in the morning each woman would bake a small flat loaf of bread and three small ring-shaped buns. The flat bread is decorated with two dogs, who are keeping the people from the pest.

349. Kavarna City Centre open for business

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-16

Kavarna has a new trade-administrative complex Kavarna City Centre, which started operating from January 2009. It had taken a little more than a year for Planex OOD to reconstruct and modernise the otherwise unappealing, communist-era concrete monster of a building in the centre of the town, and subsequently transform it into a modern steel and aluminium-glass structure, which has now become the new administrative and business centre of Kavarna and the surrounding region, Bulgarian weekly Strotelstvo Gradut reported on January 15.

Within the complex, Makao, the largest supermarket in the vicinity, is already operational, alongside a wide array of sport stores, toy shops, electronics shops, cafeterias, souvenir shops and clothing stores, as well as an Alpha Bank branch that will open within the facility by the end of the month.

Kavarna City Centre has a total area of 12 700 square metres, and currently there are vacant offices on offer of 60 to 150 square metres, and shops of 25 to 200 square metres, as well as a parcel meant for a restaurant and a facility meant for a nightclub. The complex comes equipped with a parking lot with a capacity for 100 vehicles.

The main investor in the project, whose cost is said to be a total of 10 million leva, was Planex; management of the site has been allocated to PLH Invest, an investment company in the Planex Holding Group.

348. Five Billionaires in Bulgaria

News BG: 2009-01-15

There are 10 000 millionaires in Bulgaria, "Standart" reports. There are at least five people who are believed to be billionaires. Worldwide the millionaires are around 10 million.

A query held by the investment company "Meryl Lynch" showed the regions with the biggest number of millionaires are Latin America, The Middle East and Eastern Europe.

In Bulgaria official statistics data is still missing. In the USA the results from the Forbes magazine are often used for such kinds of lists.

347. Excitement in "Sunny Beach"

News BG: 2009-01-14

Excitement is observed on construction sites in the last days in the tourist complex "Sunny Beach".

After at the end of the year construction was suspended and no objects functioned, there are now at least 20 constructions, which are being worked on, a check-up of news.bg found out.

Some of the entrepreneurs are carrying out planned repairs before the start of the summer season, but others work on objects, which are in a beginning stage of construction.

According to people in the industry, in the last weeks banks have decided to give credits to the most reliable clients and projects, which they consider profitable.

This is a breeze of fresh air for entrepreneurs, who collapsed in the end of the year.

346. Sozopols new golf facilities and gambling venues to attract wealthy tourists

Frog News: 2009-01-13

In 2009 the local government of the Black Sea resort Sozopol will make efforts to attract wealthy tourists. The resort will take part in the international tourist exchange in Finland from January 15 to 18. This travel forum is expected to draw over 85 000 visitors, of whom 16 000 are connected to travel companies and organizations. Sozopol will take part in another forum in Israel in February. Luxury complexes, cultural and historical heritage, casinos and other entertainment venues will mostly be featured. After gambling was outlawed in Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon many Israeli tourists started to travel to Sunny Beach and Golden Sands. There are 4-5 casinos in Sozopol with plans to build more in the future. Sozopol will also be promoted in Russia, Romania and Kazakhstan. According to deputy mayor of Sozopol Simeon Simeonov Kazakh tourists are among the richest in the world. There are also plans to build three golf courses in the area of the resort. The municipality is looking for investors. For convenience, there will be an airport with a 1800-m runway for small planes in the vicinity.

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