phrases can be found in various websites which make fun of the habit (typical not only for Bulgarians) to translate literally idiomatic expressions and proverbs into English.
The current section of KQ has the ambition to explain the jargon of Bulgarian politics and economy which sometimes is as inexplicable if literally translated as in the above mentioned phrases. Who's Cecoron? Or what "Tsvetan thoughts" means and what for the love of god ladybirds have to do with management?
"Umni i Krasivi"
The Smart and Beautiful strive to do good but always end up divided
It all started with the protests in the summer of 2013 against the government of PM Plamen Oresharski, which was backed by the Socialists and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).
In a carnivalesque atmosphere, thousands of Sofia residents, mostly middle class, took to the streets against the appointment of media mogul and member of parliament from DPS Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security (DANS). Then, figures from the urban intelligentsia, inspired by the massive display of indignation at the parliament's decision, started praising the movement. One of them was prolific modern author Georgi Gospodinov, who wrote a piece for Dnevnik website about the beauty of the protesting person.
Intentionally or not, his piece juxtaposed the protesters of summer 2013 - young people, most of them better-off, claiming to raise their voice against corruption and in support of the rule of law, with the people who had taken to the streets in the first months of the same year when the first Borissov government (2009-2013) was in office - poorer people from across the country who protested against increased energy bills.
And as the protesters of the summer of 2013 labeled the model of state capture by oligarchs embodied by Mr. Peevski #KOI ("#WHO appointed Peevski?") and the protests #DANSwithMe, both the left-wing forces, which had just taken power after four years of GERB rule - and Mr. Peevski's media outlets, which were supportive of the government led by Plamen Oresharski, were quick to exploit the juxtaposition.
In hindsight, it is hard to point at a specific newspaper or commentator who coined the "umni i krasivi" ("smart and beautiful") phrase as a pejorative description of the protesters of the summer of 2013. Yet, it has definitely stuck alongside similar terms of the past several years, such as Sorosoids (see the previous issue of KQ). Since then, the label has been widely used by various groups to mock the liberally minded urban middle class.
Yet, urban liberals don't need much outside pressure to keep splitting into smaller, louder and irreconcilable groups. Once the aura of the mass protests vanished in 2013 and the reformist forces in parliament failed to dismantle the #KOI model in 2014-2016, the "umni i krasivi" lost the little cohesion they had and kept on splintering. Until when? Hopefully, until the next cynical government appointment or blunder unites them.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov often justifies his (in)decisions with how stars are positioned
Everybody has their own little whims and superstitions that influence their lives. That's all fine, nobody is rational all the time. The problem comes when the most influential politician in a state believes in astrology and consults fortune-tellers before making (or not making) crucial decisions that will affect the lives of millions. This is exactly the case in Bulgaria, where three-times Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has often delayed such decisions, saying the Mercury Retrograde cycle is not the appropriate time to make them.
He refused to disclose his GERB party's presidential nomination until late into 2016, claiming that announcing it with Mercury in retrograde would be a bad omen. Yet, even though GERB officially launched Tsetska Tsatcheva's election campaign only after this particular astrological period was over, she still lost the vote.
In 2017, Mr Borissov postponed the unveiling of his third government line-up for a few days until the next Mercury retrograde period was over on May 6. The positioning of planets is so important for the governing of the state that TV shows in Bulgaria often host astrologists before or after political analysts to discuss how stellar movements will influence, say, the economy.
"About three or four times a year, Mercury speeds past Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period", according to information posted on astrologyzone.com website. Astrologists believe that under this planet's domain are all types of code, including computer codes, as well as transportation, shipping, and travel. When this planet retrogrades, these areas tend to get scrambled or spin out of control, the astrologists write.
So, the next time you see a government crisis, it's definitely not because of institutional incompetence - most probably it's the result of the alignment of the stars.
Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov should be fighting corruption, yet he prefers to focus his efforts on dominating the prosecution
"Don't smile at me," says Sofia District Prosecutor Nickolay Kokinov in a leaked wiretapped conversation with then first-time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in 2012. "You chose him," adds Mr. Kokinov. The person the prosecutor is talking about is his boss, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov.
Mr. Tsatsarov first came to fame in his early days on the job by leading a police operation targeting a printing house suspected of making fraudulent ballot papers for the early parliamentary elections of 2013. It all happened on the day before the vote and, with some help from media outlets close to infamous MP Delyan Peevski, news spread that GERB party led by Mr. Borissov was allegedly preparing to use the fake ballot papers in the election. The suspected fraud had been investigated for a year or so but when Mr. Borissov came back to power in 2014 it was dropped in a whim over lack of evidence.
Actually, under Mr. Tsatsarov (as well as under any previous Prosecutor General, to be fair), Bulgarian prosecutors seem to be finding it extremely difficult to bring strong evidence against any big political figure. More often than not lawsuits are dismissed in court because of inadequate evidence. This is why there are no high-ranking politicians or government ministers in jail despite the overwhelming feeling of injustice in Bulgarian society.
Public trust in the judiciary and the prosecution in Bulgaria has been at record lows for years (between 5 and 12 percent) but Mr. Tsatsarov is not bothered. He sees this as a result of a propaganda campaign against the Prosecutor's Office and the Prosecutor General being waged by certain "circles" which control media outlets (like the one you hold at the moment).
Mr. Tsatsarov is one of the most outspoken critics of judicial reform and attempts to de-centralize the strictly hierarchically organized prosecution office. He often talks about it in staged interviews but rarely in debates - and never in parliament. This is why the "umni i krasivi" came up with a special name for what he had turned his office into - it's no longer Prokuratura ("Prosecutor's Office" in Bulgarian), it's Tsatsaratura.