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Bulgarian police stop truck carrying migrants in refrigerated cargo

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Bulgarian Police, on Monday stopped a truck carrying 15 migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in its refrigerated trailer and arrested the two Greek drivers.

The Interior Ministry in Sofia said that the lorry, Hungary bound, had arrived from Greece and was intercepted at Vidin, on the border with Romania.

In spite several countries along the Balkan route closing their borders at the height of the migration crisis four years ago, migrants continued to use the route to try to reach wealthier European countries.

After more than one million migrants passed along the route in just over 10 months in 2015-16, the borders were shut to curb flow of people fleeing conflict and economic hardship and gaining access to EU states without thorough checks.

Migrants frequently pay smugglers to transport them across the countries and through the borders, often risking their lives.

In Aug. 2015, 71 people suffocated in a lorry similar to the one stopped in Bulgaria, as they were driven through Hungary and into Austria.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Isaac Aregbesola

Foreign

Face masks no longer mandatory, says Bulgarian premier

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Face masks would no longer be mandatory in Bulgaria starting from  June 15 under new guidelines being pushed by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

“This is when all coronavirus measures are lifted and only social aid remains,’’ he said on Wednesday.

A state of emergency was declared on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic and lasted for two months, followed by one month long epidemic exceptional situation, scheduled to end on June 14.

Since May 1, citizens have only had to wear face masks in closed public places like shops, churches, institutions and on public transport.

Bulgaria has not been hit by the novel coronavirus as hard as its Western European neighbours.

Travellers from several EU countries have been allowed to enter without being required to undergo quarantine since June 1.

Restaurants, museums, libraries, cinemas, fitness studios and shopping malls have reopened again under strict hygiene and distancing measures.

The 1st and 2nd football league seasons will start June 12, with fans allowed back in the stadiums, so long as they observe hygiene and distancing measures.


Edited By: Halima Sheji (NAN)

 

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Rose Queen selected online for first time in Bulgarian town

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This year’s Rose Queen was selected online for the first time in the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak on Monday, the organizers said in a press release.

Kazanlak was known for its Rose Festival, which has been organized annually since 1903. The festival celebrates local residents’ deep connection to the Rosa Damascena — the Bulgarian oil-bearing rose — for centuries.

Traditionally, the Rose Queen contest is part of the annual Rose Festival in Kazanlak at the heart of the Valley of Roses. It was moved online this year due to the pandemic.

Maria Petrova has received 3,577 votes and became the 52nd winner of the prestigious title, Kazanlak Municipality said.

Suzan Igleva came second with 3,169 votes, followed by Stefani Krasteva with 1,774, it said.

As many as 16,098 people have voted for the 24 participants, according to the organizers.

(XINHUA)

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Another 320 kg of cocaine seized in Bulgarian capital

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Bulgarian law enforcement authorities on Tuesday seized about 320 kg of cocaine in the capital city, officials said here on Wednesday.

Antoaneta Pancheva, spokesperson of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, said that the illicit drug, split into 327 packets, was discovered in an apartment used by a man in whose car 39.7 kg of cocaine were found on May 24.

As many as 248 of the packets were placed in a wardrobe in the bedroom, and 79 in a dresser in the kitchen, Pancheva said at a press conference.

Authorities also found and seized a professional packing machine and a scale, Pancheva said.

“It is important to share that this amount of cocaine is generally not intended for the Bulgarian market,” said Georgi Hadzhiev, director of Sofia Metropolitan Directorate of Interior.

According to him, part of it was intended for Asia, another part for Western Europe, and a very small part for distribution in Bulgaria.

The investigation is ongoing, he said.

(XINHUA)

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Bulgarian hotels see steep decline in occupancy, revenue in March

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Bulgarian hotels and motels have seen a nearly 60-percent drop in occupancy and revenue in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said Monday.

The total number of nights spent in accommodation establishments in March 2020 was 381,000, 56.4 percent less than in the same month of the previous year, the NSI said.

The number of arrivals decreased by 62.4 percent year-on-year to 162,500, the NSI said, adding that foreign visitors dropped 64.7 percent and that of Bulgarians 61.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the total revenue from nights spent in March 2020 reached 21.1 million Bulgarian leva (11.7 million U.S. dollars), 56.6 percent less year-on-year.

“A decline in revenues for both foreigners by 57.9 percent and Bulgarians by 55.5 percent was registered,” the NSI said.

Bulgaria declared a state of emergency on March 13 to curb the spread of COVID-19. Since then, a number of anti-COVID-19 measures have been taken, such as closing bars, restaurants, sports facilities, schools and universities, as well as suspending mass events.

(XINHUA)

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Bulgarian churches open for Easter, but only most devout go

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For Martin Zhekov, a Sofia fashion hairdresser, attending church on Palm Sunday was a need he could not brush aside.

“The church always gives solace, especially in these troubling times,” he said. “Nothing is like it used to be and nor will it be any time soon.”

Elsewhere, on what was Easter Sunday for other Christian denominations, Pope Francis delivered his Easter message to Roman Catholics from a empty St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Also just a handful of clerics gathered at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus’ death and resurrection that is normally packed with pilgrims.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Bulgarian Pulev to donate half of money from Joshua fight to coronavirus medics

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IBF’s mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev says he will donate half of his purse from the world heavyweight title fight against Briton Anthony Joshua to help medical workers fight the “devilish” coronavirus.

The 38-year-old Bulgarian is expected to earn around five million dollars from the fight, which has been postponed due to the pandemic.

The fight was originally scheduled for June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

“I will donate 50 percent of the money I earn from the match with Joshua to the tireless heroes in the fight against the coronavirus,” Pulev told German daily Bild on Sunday.

“I will give doctors, nurses and hospitals the necessary equipment to deal with this devilish virus.”

Last month Pulev said the fight would take place “towards the end of the year” due to the outbreak and that he would have no problem fighting without spectators in attendance.

Pulev, one of Bulgaria’s most popular sportsmen, had previously challenged for the IBF world heavyweight title in 2014.

But he lost then to Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg, when he was knocked out in the fifth round.

The 30-year-old Joshua reclaimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in December.

OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
(NAN)

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Covid-19: Bulgarian hospitals prepare nearly 7,500 beds for patients

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Bulgarian hospitals have prepared 7,473 beds across the country to treat COVID-19 patients, Maj.-Gen. Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, Head of the National Coronavirus Task Force said on Friday.

Of the beds prepared, 1,137 are in hospitals in the capital Sofia, and 1,347 are intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients, of which 518 are in the capital, said Mutafchiyski at a news conference.

A total of 276 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria so far, he added.

In the last three days, the number of cases has increased by 10-14 per cent daily, Mutafchiyski said.

“The situation is extremely dynamic and difficult to predict,” he said.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
(NAN)

 

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Bulgarian parliament amends state of emergency law after president’s veto

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Bulgarian parliament amends state of emergency law after president’s veto: Bulgaria’s parliament agreed on Monday to cancel some parts of a law that establishes a state of emergency to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

This came after the president wielded his veto citing concerns about its impact on the economy and on free speech.

As of Monday, Bulgaria had 190 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and three deaths.

Like most other European nations, it has shut schools, restaurants and other public venues and imposed a temporary ban on foreign and domestic holiday trips.

President Rumen Radev on Sunday blocked some of the new measures, saying they would create more problems than solutions, and asked parliament to think again.

One of the amendments to the penal code would have imposed a fine of up to 10,000 levs ($5,520) and carried a jail term of up to three years for spreading false information about an epidemic.

Radev said this could erode the right to free speech.

Lawmakers also agreed to remove from the legislation a clause aimed at preventing profiteering by requiring retailers to sell goods at the same prices as before the state of emergency was declared.

Radev had expressed concern that this threatened to block business activity and hinder expected falls in the price of fuel and electricity.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party and its coalition partners have a majority in the parliament, but 118 lawmakers backed Radev’s veto, while 14 were opposed and 56 abstained in the 240-member chamber.

It is only the second time that Radev, a former air force commander, who was elected head of state more than three years ago, has successfully forced legislation to be amended.

The president has limited powers in Bulgaria and can only veto legislation once.

Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Felix Ajide
(NAN)

 

 

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Bulgarian coach apologises to England over racist chants

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Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov has apologised to the England team after fans taunted their black players with Nazi salutes and monkey chants during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday.

England thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 to hand the hosts their heaviest ever home defeat but the game will be remembered more for the racist incidents that led to action being temporarily stopped in the first half.

European soccer’s ruling body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria over the racist behaviour.

While Balakov said after the game he had not heard any racist abuse from the stands, in an email to reporters late on Tuesday he apologised for the fans’ behaviour.

“I strongly condemn and reject racism as a norm of conduct that contradicts modern human relations,” Balakov said.

“This is a prejudice that comes from the past that must be eradicated forever.

“I want to say something very clear: given that there have been insults on such a basis, I, as a coach of the national team, apologise to the English footballers


and all those who feel hurt.”

Bulgarian Football Union President Borislav Mihaylov resigned on Tuesday, a few hours after the Balkan country’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov called


for the former international goalkeeper to step down.

Mihaylov had previously defended Bulgarian soccer from accusations of racism and criticized England for what he saw as a “fixation” on potential


incidents that could raise tension. (Reuters/NAN)


FAT/HA

Edited by Fatima Sule/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu

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