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soc.culture.bulgaria FAQ (monthly posting) (part 1/10)

( Part0 - Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7 - Part8 - Part9 )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Forum archive ]
Last-Modified: July 17, 2000
Posting-Frequency: Monthly
Version: 4.11
Archive-Name: bulgaria-faq/part1

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

0-1 About this FAQ
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 17-Jul-1920
This list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Bulgaria is a
collaborative effort at creating a useful electronic reference document
about Bulgaria. 

* Note (July 17, 2000): The FAQ is being rewritten at this moment. Many
*    articles may disappear from the future releases while others are
*    being updated and/or added. If you want to volunteer to help with
*    the next release, send mail to the maintainer.

The FAQ is related to the newsgroup soc.culture.bulgaria (see below). Many
of the materials contained herein are derived from postings in

Please read this FAQ list before posting to soc.culture.bulgaria. 

The names in parentheses after each question are the contributor's, which is
sometimes a different person than the author of the quoted text. 

The FAQ is a collection of materials, rather than a complete reference. Some
of the information may be out of date, so please be careful and take
everything with a grain of salt. Unless an article contains explicit
information about when it was last updated, it is older than February 1,

The maintainer of this list is Dragomir R. Radev ( 
Unless explicitly mentioned, I do not assume any responsibility for
incorrect information. I cannot and have not tested all materials for

Any comments, contributions, and corrections are more than welcome. The
maintainer reserves all rights to edit or reject submissions. Send
submissions to

This FAQ can be reposted anywhere under the following restrictions: 

- Use the most recent version of the FAQ as possible. The most recent
version is always available from the Usenet newsgroup soc.answers
- Keep all appropriate credits: the name of the contributor(s) and my
name. Keep this list of restrictions as well.
- Any modifications (other than presentation-related) should be clearly
marked as yours.
- You should include a pointer to the original version of the FAQ - either
one of the Usenet newsgroups soc.culture.bulgaria or soc.answers, or the
WWW site listed below.

0-2 FAQ availability
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 17-Jul-1920
Currently, the FAQ is available via mail server, anonymous FTP, Usenet and

Usenet: The FAQ is posted approximately once monthly on

WWW: This FAQ is available on the World-Wide Web from  (HTML form)       (text form)

FTP: This FAQ (as well as all other approved FAQ) is available by anonymous
      ftp from in either of the following directories:  

      /pub/usenet-by-group/soc.culture.bulgaria OR 

Mail: This FAQ is also available by mail server. You have to send mail
      to one of the following:

      (1) (in Europe) the text of the mail should
      include the following lines: 

      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part0
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part1
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part2
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part3
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part4
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part5
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part6
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part7
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part8
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part9
      get /pub/NEWS.ANSWERS/bulgaria-faq/part10

      (2) (in North America) the text of the mail
      should include the following lines: 

      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part0
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part1
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part2
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part3
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part4
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part5
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part6
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part7
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part8
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part9
      send usenet/news.answers/bulgaria-faq/part10

0-3 Partial list of contributors
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 17-Jul-1920
 Lyubomir Alexandrov                          Henry Berry                         John Bell          Daniel Belovarsky                    Plamen Bliznakov                            Dimitar Bojanchev                   Simeon Boyadjiev                           Luben Boyanov
                                              Kitty Kagay                         Jim Cashel
                                              Dimitar Chankov                            Tatiana Christy
                                              Karen Colburn                       Graham Crowder
                                              Prashant Dave
                                              Teodora Davidova              George Demirev
                                              Silvana Dimitrov               Barbara Dintcheff                   Yulian Donchev
filipovi_@_SDSU.EDU                           Bojidar Filipovich
                                              Dimitar Ganchev
                                              Gregory Gouzev
                                              Ken Gray
                                              Alex Haralampiev
                                              Melissa Harris                  Rosa Hays                     Rolf Henze               Ivaylo Izvorski
                                              Austin Kelly                          Stoyan Kenderov                          Jivko Kolchev                      Alexander Kostadinov
                                              Zdravena Maldjieva
                                              Vladimir Marangozov                       Ivan Marinov                                 Veni Markovski                         Dennis McConnell
                                              Nikolay Mehandjiev                Martin Mintchev
                                              Peter Mitev
                                              Dimitar Nikolov                Ned Nikolov
                                              Kamen Penev
                                              Penyo Penev
                                              Vassil Peytchev                 Plamen Petkov
                                              Ivan Petrov                      Valentin Petrov 
                                              Roumi Radenska             Kjetil Ra Hauge                        Andrey Savov                  
                                              Plamen Sivov
                                              Rick Speer
                                              Plamen Stanoev
                                              Plamen Stefanov
                                              Ernie Scatton
                                              Karel Stokkermans                      Iliya Talev
                                              Jan Terziyski              Val Todorov
mincho_@_lamar.ColoState.EDU                  Mincho Tsankov                Harry Tsamaidis
                                              Vesselin Velikov
                                              Peter Yovchev
                                              Konstantin Zahariev
                                              Rossen Zlatev                Holger Zscheyge
BSEN069_@_UNLVM.UNL.EDU                       Veselin Miladinov                       ?

CIA World Factbook
US Department of Commerce
US Department of State
Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission


1-1 How was soc.culture.bulgaria created
(by Ivan Petrov), last updated: 31-Dec-1991
The proposal was made on Oct.10 1991 and read as follows:                

"I am submitting a request for discussion to create a new newsgroup      
Why: The country is being reborn. Politics, economy and culture are      
rapidly changing. History is being given a fresh look. Free exchange     
of information and ideas is essential. The input of everyone interested  
in Bulgarian society and culture is important. Besides: Older waves of   
emigration were followed by a new one. There is a need to create links   
between Bulgarians around the world and to sustain the connection with   
the home country.                                                        

CHARTER: To promote exchange of information and ideas on all aspects of  
         Bulgarian culture and society.                                  

STATUS:  Unmoderated                                                     

The proposal appeared in news.newgroups on Oct.16, opening a 30 days
discussion period. Vassil and Luben were the most active participants.
Voting took place between Nov. 21 and Dec. 15, 1991 and was processed by
Svilen Tzonev and myself. Here is a portion of the announcement of the

"I am happy to announce that soc.culture.bulgaria received a favorable   
vote. A total of 270 people voted of which 241 in support and 29
against. The numbers meet the criteria for a successful vote by a wide
        YES - NO = 212 > 100  
        YES >> 2 x NO"              
... It is up to us now to make it an interesting and          
viable group by supplying information, asking questions,
answering questions etc..."            
The group was created on Dec.24, 1991 (rozhdestvo Hristovo i Grupovo)
and the first posting appeared on Dec.30, 1991. 

1-2 Some statistics on the newsgroup
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 14-Apr-1997
soc.culture.bulgaria FAQ (monthly posting) (part */*)
    This posting contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about
      Bulgaria and their answers. It should be read by anyone who
      wishes to post to the soc.culture.bulgaria Usenet newsgroup. The
      FAQ consists of
    From: (Dragomir R. Radev)
    Posted: Monthly (26 Oct 1995 10:08:12 -0400)

  Readers: 15000 (0.2%) {62%}        Mesgs per month/day: 1278/43    {72%}
  Crossposting: 7% {32%}             Megs  per month/day: 4.2/0.140  {86%}
  Sites reciving this Group: 63%     Cost ratio ($US/month/rdr): 0.16


2-1 Bulgaria - Ancient and Young
(by Rossen Zlatev), last updated: 31-Dec-1991

    Situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria boasts
an old and rich history. Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines,
Slavs and Bulgarians inhabited this land in their time, leaving
behind monuments and enriching the world's treasure-house of culture.
    Bulgaria occupies 111 000 square km and has a population of 8.8
million. Bulgaria's capital is the city of Sofia with 1.3
million people. Bulgaria is divided into two parts by the Balkan
mountain, and also borders Black sea.

2-2 Bulgaria - consular information sheet (09/1999)
(by US Department of State), last updated: 17-Jul-1920
Bulgaria - Consular Information Sheet
September 14, 1999

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bulgaria is a moderately developed European nation
undergoing significant economic changes. Tourist facilities are widely
available although conditions vary and some facilities may not up to
Western standards. Goods and services taken for granted in other European
countries are still not available in many areas of Bulgaria.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S.
citizen visitors for stays of up to 30 days. Travelers who intend to stay
more than 30 days should secure a Bulgarian visa as the fees connected with
the extension of their stay in the country are much higher than the visa
fees. Visitors should carry their passport with them at all times. For
further information concerning entry requirements, travelers should contact
the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria at 1621 22nd St. N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20008; tel: (202) 483-5885 (main switchboard (202) 387-7969) or the
Bulgarian Consulate in New York City.

CRIME INFORMATION: Petty street crime, much of which is directed against
foreigners or others who appear to have money, continues to be a problem.
Pickpocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in
crowded markets and on shopping streets. Confidence artists operate on
public transportation and in bus and train stations, and travelers should
be suspicious of "instant friends" and should also require persons claiming
to be officials to show identification. Taxi drivers at Sofia Airport often
gouge unwary travelers, and even if they agree to run their meters, the
amounts to be paid are much higher than normal. Travelers who pre-negotiate
a fare can avoid the more outrageous overcharging. Because incidents of
pilferage of checked baggage at Sofia Airport are common, travelers should
not include items of value in checked luggage. Automobile theft is also a
frequent problem, with four-wheel drive vehicles and late model European
sedans the most popular targets. Very few vehicles are recovered. Thieves
also sometimes smash vehicle windows to steal valuables left in sight. The
loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to
the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens
may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways
to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Although Bulgarian physicians are trained to a very
high standard, most hospitals and clinics are generally not equipped and
maintained at U.S. or Western European levels. Basic medical supplies are
widely available, but specialized treatment may not be obtainable. Serious
medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the
United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals
often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the
United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who
require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with
your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas,
including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will
be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be
reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also
include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains
in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad,
including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of
States Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for
Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health
precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their
Internet site at

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions which differ significantly from
those in the United States. The information below concerning Bulgaria is
provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a
particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor to Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

The Bulgarian road system is underdeveloped. There are few sections of
limited-access divided highway. Some roads are in poor repair and full of
potholes. Rockslides and landslides are common on roads in mountain areas.
Livestock and animal-drawn carts present road hazards throughout the
country. Travel conditions deteriorate during the winter as roads become
icy and potholes proliferate. The U.S. Embassy in Sofia advises against
night driving because road conditions are more dangerous in the dark. Many
roads lack pavement markings and lights, and motorists often drive with dim
or missing headlights.

Heavy truck traffic along the two-lane routes from the Greek border at
Kulata to Sofia and from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo to Plovdiv
creates numerous hazards. Motorists should expect long delays at border
crossings. A U.S. state driver's license is not considered valid for
Bulgaria; only an international driver's license is accepted. Persons
operating vehicles with foreign license plates frequently complain of being
stopped by police and being fined on the spot for offenses that are not

Buses, trams, and trolleys are inexpensive but often crowded and of widely
varying quality. Passengers on the busiest lines have reported
pickpocketing, purse-slashing, and backside-pinching.

For specific information concerning Bulgaria driver's permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Bulgarian
National Tourist Organization.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
has assessed the Government of Bulgaria's Civil Aviation Authority as
Category One -- in compliance with the international aviation safety
standards for the oversight of Bulgarian air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of
Transportation at 1 (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official
providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on
specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-256-4801.

CUSTOM'S REGULATIONS: Bulgarian customs laws and regulations are in a state
of flux. Currently, travelers carrying more than 10,000 United States
dollars must declare the amount of cash they are carrying on their customs
declaration. Travelers who have less than $10,000 when entering the
country, must have documents proving the source of their money if upon
departure they have with them more than $10,000. Travelers should also
declare jewelry, cameras, computers, and other valuables to avoid
difficulties on departure. Contact the Embassy of Bulgaria in Washington or
one of Bulgaria's consulates in the United States for specific information
regarding customs regulations.

Bulgaria's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of
professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions
and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for
International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036,
issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional
information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to, or
visit for details.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Bulgaria is still a largely cash economy. Visitors
should exchange cash at banks or Change Bureaus. Some Change Bureaus charge
commissions on both cash and travelers' check transactions which are not
clearly posted. People on the street who offer high rates of exchange are
confidence tricksters intent on swindling the unwary traveler. Old, dirty
or very worn denomination bank notes are often not accepted at banks or
Change Bureaus. Major branches of the following Bulgarian banks will cash
travelers' checks on the spot for Leva, the Bulgarian currency: Bulbank,
Bulgarian Postbank, Biochim, First Investment Bank and United Bulgarian
Bank (UBB). UBB also serves as a Western Union agent and provides direct
transfer of money to travelers in need. ATM cash machines are increasing in
numbers in Sofia and other major cities. Most shops, hotels and
restaurants, with the exception of the major hotels, still do not accept
travelers' checks or credit cards. Due to the potential of fraud and other
criminal activity credit cards and ATM's should be used with caution. On
July 5, 1999, the Lev was re-denominated at a rate of 1,000 old Leva to one
new Lev. For further information see the website of the Bulgarian National
Bank at

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children,
international parental child abduction, and international child support
enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

Approximately 150 U.S. families per year adopt Bulgarian orphans. For more
information on international adoptions in Bulgaria, please contact the
Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, the Consular Section of
the Embassy, or the U.S. Embassy website at

visiting Bulgaria are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the
U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria and obtain updated information on travel and
security within Bulgaria. The U.S. Embassy is located in Sofia at 1 Saborna
(formerly 1 A. Stamboliyski Boulevard); tel. (359) (2) 980-5241; fax: (359)
(2) 981-8977. The Consular Section of the Embassy is located at 1 Kapitan
Andreev Street in Sofia; tel. (359) (2) 963-1391; fax (359) (2) 963-2859.
The Embassy's website address is Questions regarding
consular services may be directed to


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 8, 1998, to update
the sections on Country Description, Entry Requirements, Crime Information,
Medical Facilities, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Aviation Safety
Oversight, and Registration and Embassy Location; to add sections on
Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Customs Regulations, Criminal
Penalties, and Children's Issues. Also, to change the section Ground
Transportation to Traffic Safety and Road Conditions and the section on
Currency Regulations to Special Circumstances.

2-3 CIA World Factbook on Bulgaria 
(by CIA World Factbook, 1996), last updated: 19-Aug-1997
Location: 43 00 N, 25 00 E -- Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea,
between Romania and Turkey


Description: three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red;
the national emblem formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe has been
removed - it contained a rampant lion within a wreath of wheat ears below a
red five-pointed star and above a ribbon bearing the dates 681 (first
Bulgarian state established) and 1944 (liberation from Nazi control)


Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Romania and
Geographic coordinates: 43 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references: Europe
total area: 110,910 sq km
land area: 110,550 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Tennessee
Land boundaries:
total: 1,808 km
border countries: Greece 494 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
148 km, Romania 608 km, Serbia and Montenegro 318 km (all with Serbia),
Turkey 240 km
Coastline: 354 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
International disputes: none
Climate: temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast
lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Musala 2,925 m
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, timber, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 34%
permanent crops: 3%
meadows and pastures: 18%
forest and woodland: 35%
other: 10%
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (1989 est.)
current issues: air pollution from industrial emissions; rivers polluted
from raw sewage, heavy metals, detergents; deforestation; forest damage
from air pollution and resulting acid rain; soil contamination from heavy
metals from metallurgical plants and industrial wastes
natural hazards: earthquakes, landslides
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen
Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change,
Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Air
Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds,
Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Biodiversity, Law of the Sea
Geographic note: strategic location near Turkish Straits; controls key land
routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia


Population: 8,612,757 (July 1996 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17% (male 769,025; female 732,119)
15-64 years: 68% (male 2,891,197; female 2,923,440)
65 years and over: 15% (male 561,944; female 735,032) (July 1996 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.46% (1996 est.)
Birth rate: 8.33 births/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Death rate: 13.55 deaths/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Net migration rate: 9.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1996 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
all ages: 0.96 male(s)/female (1996 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1996 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71 years
male: 67.07 years
female: 75.12 years (1996 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.17 children born/woman (1996 est.)
noun: Bulgarian(s)
adjective: Bulgarian
Ethnic divisions: Bulgarian 85.3%, Turk 8.5%, Gypsy 2.6%, Macedonian 2.5%,
Armenian 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, other 0.6%
Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 85%, Muslim 13%, Jewish 0.8%, Roman Catholic
0.5%, Uniate Catholic 0.2%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 0.5%
Languages: Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic
Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1992 est.)
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 97%


Name of country:
conventional long form: Republic of Bulgaria
conventional short form: Bulgaria
Data code: BU
Type of government: emerging democracy
Capital: Sofia
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (oblasti, singular - oblast); Burgas,
Grad Sofiya, Khaskovo, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofiya, Varna
Independence: 22 September 1908 (from Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Independence Day, 3 March (1878)
Constitution: adopted 12 July 1991
Legal system: based on civil law system with Soviet law influence; accepts
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Zhelyu Mitev ZHELEV (since 1 August 1990, when he
was elected by the National Assembly); president and vice president elected
for five-year terms by popular vote; election last held NA January 1992
(next to be held NA 1997); results - Zhelyu ZHELEV elected by popular vote;
Vice President (vacant)
head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister)
Zhan VIDENOV (since 25 January 1995) appointed by the president; Deputy
Prime Ministers Doncho KONAKCHIEV (since 25 January 1995), Atanas PAPAKIZOV
(since NA), Rumen GECHEV (since 25 January 1995), Svetoslav SHIVAROV (since
25 January 1995)
cabinet: Council of Ministers elected by the National Assembly
Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Narodno Sobranie): last held 18 December 1994 (next to
be held NA 1997); results - BSP 43.5%, UDF 24.2%, PU 6.5%, MRF 5.4%, BBB
4.7%; seats - (240 total) BSP 125, UDF 69, PU 18, MRF 15, BBB 13
Judicial branch: Supreme Court, chairman appointed for a seven-year term by
the president; Constitutional Court, 12 justices appointed or elected for a
nine-year term
Political parties and leaders: Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Zhan
VIDENOV, chairman; Union of Democratic Forces (UDF - an alliance of
pro-Democratic parties), Ivan KOSTOV; People's Union (PU), Stefan SAVOV;
Movement for Rights and Freedoms (mainly ethnic Turkish party) (MRF), Ahmed
DOGAN; Bulgarian Business Bloc (BBB), George GANCHEV
Other political or pressure groups: Democratic Alliance for the Republic
(DAR); New Union for Democracy (NUD); Ecoglasnost; Podkrepa Labor
Confederation; Fatherland Union; Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP);
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (KNSB); Bulgarian
Agrarian National Union - United (BZNS); Bulgarian Democratic Center;
"Nikola Petkov" Bulgarian Agrarian National Union; Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization - Union of Macedonian Societies (IMRO-UMS);
numerous regional, ethnic, and national interest groups with various
International organization participation: ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, EBRD,
ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarset, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM,
UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMOT, UPU, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO,
WToO, WTrO (applicant), ZC
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Snezhana Damianova BOTUSHAROVA
chancery: 1621 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 387-7969
FAX: [1] (202) 234-7973
US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
embassy: 1 Saborna Street, Sofia
mailing address: Unit 1335, APO AE 09213-1335
telephone: [359] (2) 88-48-01 through 05
FAX: [359] (2) 80-19-77
Flag: three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red; the
national emblem formerly on the hoist side of the white stripe has been
removed - it contained a rampant lion within a wreath of wheat ears below a
red five-pointed star and above a ribbon bearing the dates 681 (first
Bulgarian state established) and 1944 (liberation from Nazi control)


Economic overview: One of the poorest countries of central Europe, Bulgaria
has continued the difficult process of moving from its old command economy
to a modern, market-oriented economy. GDP rose a moderate 2.4% in 1995;
inflation was down sharply; and unemployment fell from an estimated 16% to
12%. Despite this progress, structural reforms necessary to underpin
macroeconomic stabilization were not pursued vigorously. Mass privatization
of state-owned industry continued to move slowly, although privatization of
small-scale industry, particularly in the retail and service sectors,
accelerated. The Bulgarian economy will continue to grow in 1996, but
economic reforms will remain politically difficult as the population has
become weary of the process.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $43.2 billion (1995 est.)
GDP real growth rate: 2.4% (1995 est.)
GDP per capita: $4,920 (1995 est.)
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 12%
industry: 36%
services: 52% (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 35% (1995)
Labor force: 3.1 million
by occupation: industry 41%, agriculture 18%, other 41% (1992)
Unemployment rate: 11.9% (1995 est.)
revenues: $3.8 billion
expenditures: $4.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)
Industries: machine building and metal working, food processing, chemicals,
textiles, construction materials, ferrous and nonferrous metals
Industrial production growth rate: 2% (1995)
capacity: 11,500,000 kW
production: 38.1 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 4,342 kWh (1994)
Agriculture: grain, oilseed, vegetables, fruits, tobacco; livestock
Illicit drugs: important transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin
and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine transiting the Balkan
route; limited producer of precursor chemicals
Exports: $4.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: machinery and equipment 12.8%; agriculture and food 21.9%;
textiles and apparel 14%; metals and ores 19.7%; chemicals 16.9%; minerals
and fuels 9.3%
partners: former CEMA countries 35.7%; OECD 46.6% (EU 33.5%); Arab
countries 5.1%; other 12.6%
Imports: $4 billion (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: fuels, minerals, and raw materials 30.1%; machinery and
equipment 23.6%; textiles and apparel 11.6%; agricultural products 10.8%;
metals and ores 6.8%; chemicals 12.3%; other 4.8%
partners: former CEMA countries 40.3%; OECD 48.3% (EU 34.1%); Arab
countries 1.7%; other 9.7%
External debt: $10.4 billion (1995)
Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $39 million (1993)
note: $700 million in balance of payments support from Western nations
Currency: 1 lev (Lv) = 100 stotinki
Exchange rates: leva (Lv) per US$1 - 70.5 (December 1995), 54.2 (1994),
27.1 (1993), 23.3 (1992), 18.4 (1991); note - floating exchange rate since
February 1991
Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 4,292 km
standard gauge: 4,047 km 1.435-m gauge (2,650 km electrified; 917 double
other: 245 km 0.760-m gauge (1995)
total: 36,932 km
paved: 33,904 km (including 276 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,028 km (1992 est.)
Waterways: 470 km (1987)
Pipelines: crude oil 193 km; petroleum products 525 km; natural gas 1,400
km (1992)
Ports: Burgas, Lom, Nesebur, Ruse, Varna, Vidin
Merchant marine:
total: 103 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,084,090 GRT/1,596,735 DWT
ships by type: bulk 45, cargo 27, chemical tanker 4, container 2, oil
tanker 13, passenger-cargo 1, railcar carrier 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 6,
short-sea passenger 2, refrigerated cargo 1
note: Bulgaria owns an additional 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling
135,016 DWT operating under the registries of Liberia and Malta (1995 est.)

total: 355
with paved runways over 3 047 m: 1
with paved runways 2 438 to 3 047 m: 17
with paved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 10
with paved runways under 914 m: 88
with unpaved runways 2 438 to 3 047 m: 2
with unpaved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1 523 m: 10
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 226 (1994 est.)


Telephones: 2,773,293 (1993 est.)
Telephone system: almost two-thirds of the lines are residential; 67% of
Sofia households have telephones (November 1988 est.)
domestic: extensive but antiquated transmission system of coaxial cable and
microwave radio relay; telephone service is available in most villages
international: direct dialing to 36 countries; satellite earth stations - 1
Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean Region); Intelsat available through a Greek
earth station
Radio broadcast stations: AM 20, FM 15, shortwave 0
Radios: NA
Television broadcast stations: 29 (Russian repeater in Sofia 1)
Televisions: 2.1 million (May 1990 est.)


Branches: Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces, Border Troops, Internal
Manpower availability:
males age 15-49: 2,155,332
males fit for military service: 1,797,318
males reach military age (19) annually: 64,568 (1996 est.)
Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $352 million, 2.5% of GDP

2-4 Demographic, Social And Economic Features Of Bulgaria
(by National Statistics Institute), last updated: 12-Nov-1995

                       1992   1993   1994
 Population as of
 31.12\Thousand        8484,8 8459,7 8427,4
 Men                   6169,1 4251,6 4130,0
 Women                 4315,7 4308,1 4297,4
 Birth rate - %        10,4   10,0   9,4
 Death rate - %        12,6   12,9   13,2
 Natural increase - %  -2,2   -2,9   -3,8
 Average life -
 expectancy\years      70,9   71,2   70,9
 Men                   67,6   67,7   67,2
 Women                 74,4   75,0   74,8
 in the country\       3273,3 3221,8 3235,0
 ( thousand) 1\
 Relative Share of
 the employed in       17,7   28,3   35,9
 the private sector - %
 Employed on a
 labour contract in
 public sector of      2662,7 2667,0 2032,1
 Economy\ in
 Thousand 1\
 Average annual
 wage of the
 employed on a
 labour contract in    24568  38776  59525
 the public sector
 of Economy - LV
 registered in the     576,9  626,1  448,4
 Bureau of Labour,
 as of to 31. 12
 Unemployment level,
 as of 31.12 - 2\      15,3   16,4   12,8
 Gross Domestic
 product - indices
 on the basis of       92,7   97,6   *101,4
 preceding year = 100
 Inflation -
 consumer prices
 indices for XII       179,5  163,9  221,9
 month preceding
 year = 100

1\ Average annual number
2\ A relative share of the registered unemployed persons in the Bureau of
Labour from
the total number of employed and unemployed - %
* Preliminary data

2-5 State System 
(by Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission)
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic. According to the Constitution, which 
was adopted in July 1991, the entire power of the state shall derive from the 
people and shall be exerted directly and through the bodies established by the 
Constitution. The Constitution proclaims pluralism of political views and 
freedom of religion. 
The supreme legislative body in the country is the National Assembly (Narodno
Sqbranie - Bulgarian Parliament), which exercises parliamentary control
over the government. 
The President is the Head of State. He is elected through direct and secret 
ballot for a five-year term of office, and he personifies the unity of the 
The Council of Ministers is the supreme executive body for home and foreign 
The territory of the Republic of Bulgaria is divided into nine administrative
regions and smaller municipalities. The municipality is the primary terri- 
torial administrative unit, being a legal entity where local
self-government is  exercised through a municipal council elected by the
respective local community population for a for-year term of office. 

2-6 Human Rights Practices in Bulgaria
(by U.S. Department of State), last updated: 07-Mar-1996
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic ruled by a democratically elected 
government.  President Zhelyu Zhelev, former chairman of the Union of 
Democratic Forces (UDF), was elected in 1992 to a 5-year term in the 
country's first direct presidential elections.  The Bulgarian Socialist 
Party (BSP), heir to the Communist Party, and two nominal coalition 
partners won an absolute majority in preterm elections in December 1994 
and formed a government in January.  The judiciary is independent but 
continued to struggle with structural and staffing problems.  Most 
citizens have little confidence in their legal system. 
Most security services are the responsibility of the Ministry of the 
Interior, which controls the police, the National Security Service 
(civilian intelligence), internal security troops, border guards, and 
special forces.  A number of persons known to be involved in repressive 
activities during the Communist regime returned to senior-level 
positions in the security services in 1995.  Some members of the police 
force committed serious human rights abuses. 
The post-Communist economy remains heavily dependent on state 
enterprises.  Most people are employed in the industrial and service 
sectors; key industries include food processing, chemical and oil 
processing, metallurgy, and energy.  Principal exports are agricultural 
products, cigarettes and tobacco, chemicals, and metal products.  The 
transformation of the economy into a market-oriented system has been 
retarded by continued political and social resistance.  Privatization of 
the large Communist-era state enterprises has been very slow and is the 
main reason for Bulgaria's economic stagnation.  The Government is now 
developing a mass privatization program which, if successfully 
implemented, would partially address this problem.  The service and 
consumer goods sectors in private hands continued to be the most 
vibrant.  Although all indicators point to a reviving economy this year, 
the last several years' decline has affected the employment of people 
>from  ethnic minorities disproportionately.  The annual per capita Gross 
Domestic Product (GDP) of $1,300 provides a low standard of living. 
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, but 
problems remained in some areas.  Constitutional restrictions on 
political parties formed on ethnic, racial, or religious lines 
effectively limit participation.  There were several reports that police 
used unwarranted lethal force against suspects and minorities, and 
security forces beat suspects and inmates.  Human rights observers 
charged that the security forces are not sufficiently accountable to 
Parliament or to society and that the resultant climate of impunity is a 
major obstacle to ending police abuses.  Prison conditions are harsh, 
and pretrial detention is often prolonged.  Mistreatment  
of ethnic minorities by the population at large is a serious problem, 
and both the Government and private citizens continued to obstruct the 
activities of some non-Eastern Orthodox religious groups.  
Discrimination and violence against women and Roma are serious problems. 
Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
There were several reports of police officers using unwarranted lethal 
force against criminal suspects, as well as against members of minority 
groups whether or not suspected of any crime, resulting in three deaths.  
On February 11, a Rom was found dead in Gradets, near Sliven.  A witness 
told a human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) that a police 
officer had beaten the victim in the village center the previous day, 
and the deceased's family described numerous signs of severe beating.  
An investigation is in progress.  
During a March attempt to apprehend a man previously sentenced for 
committing theft, a police officer in Nova Zagora allegedly beat an 18-
year-old Rom, then shot and killed the man's 22-year-old brother when 
the older brother intervened.  Neither of the victims was being sought 
by the police.  The alleged perpetrator, a police sergeant, has been 
charged with murder resulting from excessive use of force in self-
defense.  The investigation continues. 
A 22-year-old male died in April while in police custody, apparently as 
a result of beating.  The deceased, an ethnic Bulgarian, had been 
arrested for alleged complicity in a burglary.  Six policemen were 
arrested in this widely publicized case; one officer, a police 
lieutenant, remains under investigation, and the national police 
director resigned. 
No progress was made in the case of a detainee who died while in police 
custody following an August 1994 roundup of suspected criminals in 
Pazardjik, although the Government's investigation remains open.  There 
was little progress in the September 1994 case of a detainee who died 
one day after being taken into police custody in Pleven, and there were 
no developments in the investigation of the 1993 incident in which 
police allegedly beat three escaped prisoners (two of whom reportedly 
died) upon recapture. 
In November Amnesty International (AI) sent a letter to the Ministry of 
Interior expressing concern about five incidents in which AI said that 
police officers opened fire on suspects in violation of U.N. basic 
principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement 
officials.  Interior Ministry data on serious police violations over the 
18 months ending March 31 show 18 deaths due to police negligence, 59 
cases of physical injury, more than 60 charges of serious offenses, and 
58 convictions of police officers on these and lesser charges during the 
period.  The Minister of Interior publicly acknowledged that police 
abuses occur and made a commitment to address the problem; a number of 
cases are under investigation.  However, the police have generally 
refused the requests of human rights groups to make investigative 
reports available to the public.  The climate of impunity that the 
Government allows to prevail is the single largest obstacle to ending 
such abuses. 
  b.  Disappearance 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
The Constitution expressly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment.   
Despite this prohibition, there were a number of credible reports 
describing police beating of Roma during arrests.  In January and 
February, a riot control unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs shot 
and wounded at least 3 people and beat more than 10 during an operation 
in response to illegal felling of trees near Velingrad.  All of the 
victims were Roma.  No police officers were charged or investigated. 
In a Sofia neighborhood in March, police reportedly beat almost 40 
Romani teenagers and young men in an incident following several 
confrontations between Roma and "skinheads."  No police officers were 
investigated, despite numerous victims' accounts and a credible NGO 
report to law enforcement and other governmental authorities.  
Conditions in some prisons are harsh, including severe overcrowding, 
inadequate lavatory facilities, and insufficient heating and 
ventilation.  Credible sources reported cases of brutality committed by 
prison guards against inmates; in some cases, prisoners who complained 
were placed in solitary confinement.  The process by which prisoners may 
complain of substandard conditions or of mistreatment does not appear to 
function.  The Government cooperated fully with requests by independent 
observers to monitor prison conditions.   
  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
The Constitution provides for access to legal counsel from the time of 
detention.  Police normally obtain a warrant prior to apprehending an 
individual; otherwise, in emergency circumstances judicial authorities 
must rule on the legality of a detention within 24 hours.  Defendants 
have the right to visits by family members, to examine evidence, and to 
know the charges against them.  Charges may not be made public without 
the permission of the Chief Prosecutor.  Pretrial detention is limited 
to 2 months under normal circumstances, although this may be extended to 
6 months by order of the Chief Prosecutor, who may also restart the 
process.  In practice, persons are often detained for well over 6 
About one-third of Bulgaria's approximately 9,000 prison inmates are in 
pretrial detention.  In the event of a conviction, time spent in 
pretrial detention is credited toward the sentence.  The Constitution 
provides for bail, and some detainees have been released under this 
provision, although bail is not widely used.  Neither internal nor 
external exile is used as a form or punishment. 
  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial 
Under the Constitution the judiciary is granted independent and coequal 
status with the legislature and executive branch.  However, most 
observers agreed that the judiciary continued to struggle with problems 
such as low salaries, understaffing, and a heavy backlog of cases.  
Partly as a legacy of communism and partly because of the court system's 
structural and personnel problems, most citizens have little confidence 
in their judicial system.  Human rights groups complain that local 
prosecutors and magistrates sometimes fail to pursue vigorously crimes 
committed against minorities.  
The court system consists of regional courts, district courts, and the 
Supreme and Constitutional Courts.  The Government has not yet carried 
out several of the reforms provided for in the June 1994 judicial Reform 
Bill, including the establishment of separate supreme courts of 
cassation (civil and criminal appeal) and administration.  Judges are 
appointed by a 25-member Supreme Judicial Council and, after serving for 
3 years, may not be replaced except under limited, specified 
circumstances.  The 12 justices on the Constitutional Court are chosen 
for 9-year terms as follows:  a third are elected by the National 
Assembly, a third appointed by the President, and a third elected by 
judicial authorities.   
The Constitution stipulates that all courts shall conduct hearings in 
public unless the proceedings involve state security or state secrets.  
There were no reported complaints about limited access to courtroom 
proceedings.  Defendants have the right to know the charges against them 
and are given ample time to prepare a defense.  The right of appeal is 
guaranteed and widely used.  Defendants in criminal proceedings have the 
right to confront witnesses and to have an attorney, provided by the 
State if necessary, in serious cases. 
The Constitutional Court is empowered to rescind legislation it 
considers unconstitutional, settle disputes over the conduct of general 
elections, and resolve conflicts over the division of powers between the 
various branches of government.  Military courts handle cases involving 
military personnel and some cases involving national security matters.  
The Constitutional Court does not have specific jurisdiction in matters 
of military justice. 
A number of criminal cases against former leaders for alleged abuses 
during the Communist period were carried forward.  Former dictator Todor 
Zhivkov is serving a 7-year sentence under house arrest for abuse of 
power involving personal expense accounts and state privileges.  Legal 
review of his case continues; the most recent step was a Supreme Court 
hearing on September 15.  Although the investigation continues, there 
was little progress in the case in which 43 former high-level Communists 
were indicted in 1994 for having given grant aid during the 1980's to 
then-friendly governments in the developing world such as Cuba, Angola, 
and Libya.  Investigation also continues in a case begun in 1993 
involving a charge of embezzlement for giving grant aid to Communist 
parties in other countries (the "Moscow case"), with no tangible 
progress.  Some human rights observers criticized these and previous 
indictments, asserting that the activities in question were political 
and economic in nature, not criminal. 
One of the primary figures in these cases, former Prime Minister and 
once senior Communist official Andrei Lukanov, brought a complaint 
against these proceedings to the European Commission of Human Rights.  
Acting on his petition in January, the Commission ruled that Lukanov's 
appeal of the procedure by which he was stripped of parliamentary 
immunity was admissible before the Commission, but has not yet issued a 
decision on the merits of the case.  Lukanov's appeals under two other 
articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights 
and Fundamental Freedoms were not admitted. 
There was no progress in a case begun in 1993 relating to the forced 
assimilation and expulsion of ethnic Turks in 1984-85 and 1989, nor in a 
trial relating to the notorious death camps set up by the Communists 
after they came to power in 1944.  Police authorities concluded their 
investigation of the 1994 murder of a key witness in the latter case in 
February without definite result. 
In one of its first acts, the new Socialist-dominated Parliament 
repealed a controversial 1992 lustration act ("Law for Additional 
Requirements Toward Scientific Organizations and the Higher Certifying 
Commission"), known as the "Panev Law."   
The law had barred former secretaries and members of Communist party 
committees from positions as academic council members, university 
department heads, deans, rectors, and chief editors of science 
magazines, applying a presumption of guilt that conflicts with 
international human rights standards. 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or 
The Constitution provides for the inviolability of the home, for the 
right to choose one's place of work and residence, and protects the 
freedom and confidentiality of correspondence.  Human rights observers 
expressed concerns that illegal wiretaps may still persist but provided 
no tangible evidence. 
Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press 
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the 
Government generally respects this right in practice, although there 
were signs that it was seeking to increase editorial control over 
government-owned electronic media.  The variety of newspapers published 
by political parties and other organizations represents the full 
spectrum of political opinion, but a notable degree of self-censorship 
exists in the press among journalists who must conform to what are often 
heavily politicized editorial views of their respective newspapers. 
National television and radio broadcasting both remain under 
parliamentary supervision.  A September Constitutional Court ruling 
declared unconstitutional some portions of a "provisional" statute that 
had placed the electronic media under parliamentary supervision since 
1990.  In October Parliament passed legislation restoring its right to 
exercise control over the national electronic media; in December the 
Constitutional Court again struck down this provision.  In November 34 
journalists from a national radio station issued a declaration accusing 
radio management of censoring their work and threatening uncooperative 
journalists with dismissal.  A month later, seven of the journalists 
were fired, provoking widespread public concern about freedom of speech 
and the establishment of at least two NGO's to monitor the issue.  This 
ongoing dispute illustrates a growing concern about the lack of balance 
in the state-controlled news media.   
Some observers criticized changes in the senior leadership of the 
national electronic media and editorial control by a newly established 
board of directors of Bulgarian national radio, charging they were 
politically motivated.  In September the Constitutional Court overturned 
a provision of the July Local Elections Act which prohibited journalists 
working for state-owned media and local electronic media from expressing 
opinions on parties, coalitions, and candidates in the October 29 local 
There are two state-owned national television channels and a growing 
number of privately owned regional stations.  Two channels broadcast in 
Bulgarian, while a third broadcasts Russian programming, and a fourth 
carries a mixture of Cable News Network International and French 
language programming.  Bulgarian national television has been planning 
Turkish- language programming for at least 2 years, but broadcasts have 
not yet begun.  Foreign government radio programs such as the British 
Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America (VOA) had good access 
to commercial Bulgarian radio frequencies, although in April the interim 
council for radio frequencies and television channels turned down a 
request by Radio Free Europe to add VOA programming on its frequency.  
After initial government approval in the fall of 1994 of an application 
to create a privately owned national broadcast television station, 
further progress has floundered, with no action being taken by the 
current Government.  Television and radio news programs on the state-
owned media present opposition views but are generally seen as being 
biased in favor of the Government.  There are no formal restrictions on 
programming.  Some political groups complained that coverage was one-
sided, although they acknowledged that their representatives were 
interviewed regularly.  Both television and radio provide a variety of 
news and public interest programming, including talk and public opinion 
More than 30 independent radio stations are licensed.  Some private 
stations complained that their licenses unduly restricted the strength 
of their transmissions in comparison to state-owned stations.  Radio 
transmitter facilities are owned by the Government. 
Private book publishing remained lively, with hundreds of publishers in 
business.  Respect for academic freedom continued. 
  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
The right to peaceful and unarmed assembly is provided for by the 
Constitution, and the Government generally respected this right in 
practice.  The authorities require permits for rallies and assemblies 
held outdoors, but most legally registered organizations were routinely 
granted permission to assemble.  However, one non-Orthodox religious 
group reported difficulties obtaining a permit for an outdoor assembly, 
and several other religious groups also had difficulty renting assembly 
halls.  In most cases, these religious groups had been denied 
registration by the Council of Ministers (see Section 2.c.).   
Vigorous political rallies and demonstrations were a common occurrence 
and took place without government interference. 
The Government has undertaken to respect the rights of individuals and 
groups freely to establish their own political parties or other 
political organizations.  However, there are constitutional and 
statutory restrictions that limit the right of association and 
meaningful participation in the political process.  For example, the 
Constitution prohibits organizations that threaten the country's 
territorial integrity or unity, or that incite racial, ethnic, or 
religious hatred.  Some observers considered the Government's refusal 
since 1990 to register a Macedonian rights group, Umo-Ilinden, on the 
grounds that it is separatist, to be a restriction of the constitutional 
rights to express opinions and to associate.  The group, which is 
seeking registration as a Bulgarian-Macedonian friendship society, was 
allowed to hold an outdoor public meeting in April, but police broke up 
attempts to hold a second public meeting in July. 
The Constitution forbids the formation of political parties along 
religious, ethnic, or racial lines, and prohibits "citizens' 
associations" from engaging in political activity.  Although these 
restrictions were used in 1991 to challenge the legitimacy of the mainly 
ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), that party is 
currently represented in Parliament, and its right to compete in the 
October 29 local elections was not questioned. 
  c.  Freedom of Religion 
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the 
Government restricts this right in practice.  The ability of a number of 
religious groups to operate freely continued to come under attack, both 
as a result of government action and because of public intolerance.  The 
Government requirement that groups whose activities have a religious 
element register with the Council of Ministers remained an obstacle to 
the activity of many religious groups.  Dozens of articles in a broad 
range of newspapers depicted lurid and inaccurate pictures of the 
activities of non-Orthodox religious groups, attributing suicides of 
teenagers and the breakup of families to their activities. 
The Government refused visas and residence permits for foreign 
missionaries, and some came under physical attack in the street and in 
their homes.  Members of the Mormon church reported continued acts of 
harassment and assault, including some perpetrated by the police 
themselves.  The police response was indifferent despite the expressed 
concern of the Government about such cases. 
In February the Supreme Court ruled that a mother and supporter of the 
nonregistered community of Christ's Warriors be denied parental custody 
of her 4-year-old son because she had taken the boy to religious 
meetings of the community.  The court grounded its decision on 
"educational qualities" claiming that "it is obvious that the child's 
presence at such a public place is harmful to his mind and his health as 
a whole."   
At the Department of Theology of Sofia University, all students have 
been required to present a certificate of baptism from the Orthodox 
Church, and married couples to provide a marriage certificate from the 
Orthodox Church, in order to enroll in the Department's classes.  
Authorities initiated an investigation of the case of the April 1994 
shooting death of Yordan Tsolov, an Orthodox priest in Surnitsa, about 
which charges of police complicity were raised by a human rights 
organization and the press in 1994. 
Several religious groups appealed the denials of their registration by 
the Council of Ministers under a 1994 amendment to the Families and 
Persons Act.  Most of the appeals were denied by the Council of 
Ministers.  Following the Supreme Court's April decision to affirm the 
Council's denial of registration to the "Word of Life" group, the press 
reported that the group was banned and that the police would seek out 
and stop religious gatherings of the group, even if held in private 
homes.  Some observers made credible charges that the police sought to 
break up meetings of non-Eastern Orthodox religious groups which were 
denied registration. 
The Constitution designates Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the 
"traditional" religion.  A number of major religious bodies, including 
the Muslim and Jewish communities, receive government financial support.  
There was no evidence that the Government discriminated against members 
of any religious group in restituting to previous owners properties that 
were nationalized during the Communist regime.  For most religious 
groups which were able to maintain their registration, there were no 
restrictions on attendance at religious services or on private religious 
instruction.  A school for imams, a Muslim cultural center, university 
theological faculties, and religious primary schools operated freely.  
Bibles and other religious materials in the Bulgarian language were 
freely imported and printed, and Muslim, Catholic, and Jewish 
publications were published on a regular basis.  However, during 
compulsory military service most Muslims are placed into labor units 
where they often perform commercial, military, or maintenance work 
rather than serve in normal military units.  The mainly ethnic-Turkish 
Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) protested this practice (see 
Section 5).  
A significant proportion of Muslims considered the current Government's 
approval of the statutes of the Muslim faith and its registration of a 
new Chief Mufti and new head of the Supreme Theological Council, all 
developed at a November 1994 Islamic conference, to be government 
interference in the affairs of the community.  A rival Chief Mufti, 
elected at an alternative Islamic conference in March, appealed the 
Government's actions unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court. 
The schism which opened in the Orthodox church in 1992 persisted. 
  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
The Constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country and 
the right to leave it, and these rights are not limited in practice, 
with the exception of limited border zones off limits both to foreigners 
and Bulgarians not resident therein.  Every citizen has the right to 
return to Bulgaria, may not be forcibly expatriated, and may not be 
deprived of citizenship acquired by birth.  A number of former political 
emigrants were granted passports and returned to visit or live. 
As provided under law, the Chief Prosecutor restricted foreign travel by 
Lukanov (see Section 1.e.) and also by Ivan Slavkov, son-in-law of Todor 
Zhivkov, due to outstanding investigations of them.  Observers 
criticized the lack of time limits on such inactive investigations and 
questioned whether the travel restrictions were not being used 
The Government has provisions for granting asylum or refugee status in 
accordance with the standards of the 1951 U.N. Convention and its 1967 
Protocol relating to the status of refugees.  Domestic and international 
human rights organizations expressed concerns over the Government's 
handling of asylum claims and reported that there may be cases in which 
bona fide refugees are forced to return to countries where they fear 
persecution.  The Bureau for Territorial Asylum and Refugees asserts 
that it gives a fair hearing to all persons seeking asylum or refugee 
status but admits that there may be cases which do not come to its 
attention before the applicant is returned to the country from which he 
or she entered Bulgaria.  The Bureau is still seeking to establish 
registration and reception centers blocked in 1994 by skinheads and 
local citizens groups and has identified some new sites for the centers. 
Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
Citizens have the right to change their government and head of state 
through the election of the President and of the members of the National 
Assembly, although the constitutional prohibition of parties formed on 
ethnic, racial, or religious lines has the effect of circumscribing 
access to the political process (see Section 2.b.).  Suffrage is 
universal at the age of 18.  The most recent parliamentary elections 
took place in December 1994.  President Zhelev was elected in 1992 in 
the first direct presidential elections.   
Local elections were held in the fall.  With the exception of the 
mayoral election in Kurdjali, all major political parties accepted the 
results and agreed that the elections were conducted in a free and 
orderly manner.  In the ethnically mixed city of Kurdjali, in a 
politically charged atmosphere, the Socialist Party challenged in court 
the narrow runoff victory of the MRF candidate, questioning the 
registration of several hundred voters.  After lengthy delays the court 
took up the case, but it has not yet ruled, and the elected mayor has 
not been allowed to take office. 
There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women in 
government.  A number of women hold elective and appointive office at 
high levels, including a cabinet-level post and several key positions in 
the Parliament.  However, women hold only about 14 percent of the seats 
in the current Parliament. 
Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigations of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
Local and international human rights groups operate freely, 
investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.  At 
the initiative of several groups concerned with children's rights, the 
Government conducted a dialog with them on its compliance with the 
Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Government was particularly 
cooperative in allowing an NGO committee to survey prison conditions.  
However, the Government is otherwise often reluctant to provide 
information or active cooperation. 
Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
The Constitution provides for individual rights, equality, and 
protection against discrimination, but in practice discrimination still 
exists, particularly against Roma and women. 
Domestic abuse is reportedly a serious problem, but there are no 
figures, official or otherwise, on its occurrence.  The courts prosecute 
rape, although it remains an underreported crime because some stigma 
still attaches to the victim.  The maximum sentence for rape is 8 years; 
convicted offenders often receive a lesser sentence or early parole.  
Marital rape is a crime but rarely prosecuted.  Courts and prosecutors 
tend to view domestic abuse as a family rather than criminal problem, 
and in most cases victims of domestic violence take refuge with family 
or friends rather than approach the authorities.  No government agencies 
provide shelter or counseling for such persons, although there is a 
private initiative to address the problem. 
Many of the approximately 30 women's organizations in Bulgaria are 
closely associated with political parties or have primarily professional 
agendas.  Of those which exist mainly to defend women's interests, the 
two largest are the Women's Democratic Union in Bulgaria, heir to the 
group which existed under the Zhivkov dictatorship, and the Bulgarian 
Women's Association, which disappeared under communism but has now 
reemerged and has chapters in a number of cities. 
The Constitution forbids privileges or restrictions of rights on the 
basis of sex.  However, women face discrimination both in terms of 
recruitment and the likelihood of layoffs.  Official figures show the 
rate of unemployment for women to be higher than that for men.  Women 
are much more likely than men to be employed in low-wage jobs requiring 
little education, although statistics show women are equally likely to 
attend university.  Women, in the main, continue to have primary 
responsibility for child-rearing and housekeeping even if they are 
employed outside the home.  The liberal provisions for paid maternity 
leave may actually work against employers' willingness to hire and 
retain women employees, especially in the private sector. 
The Government appears to be committed to protecting children's welfare.  
It maintains, for example, a sizable network of orphanages throughout 
the country.  However, government efforts in education and health have 
been constrained by serious budgetary limitations and by outmoded social 
care structures.  Groups that exist to defend the rights of children 
charge that an increasing number of children are at serious risk as 
social insurance payments fall further behind inflation and are often 
disbursed as much as 6 months late. 
The vast majority of children are free from societal abuse, although 
skinhead groups have beaten some Romani children; the homeless or 
abandoned were particularly vulnerable.  Some Romani minors were forced 
into prostitution by family or community members; there was little 
police effort to address these problems. 
  People with Disabilities 
Disabled persons receive a range of financial assistance, including free 
public transportation, reduced prices on modified automobiles, and free 
equipment such as wheel chairs.  However, as in other areas, budgetary 
constraints mean that such payments have fallen behind.  Disabled 
individuals have access to university training and to housing and 
employment, although no special programs are in place to allow them to 
live up to their full employment potential.  To date little effort has 
been made to change building or street layouts to help blind or 
otherwise physically disabled persons.  At the end of the year, 
Parliament passed legislation requiring the relevant Ministry and local 
governments to provide a suitable living and architectural environment 
for the disabled within 3 years.  Also, policies of the Communist regime 
which separated mentally and physically disabled persons, including very 
young children, from the rest of society have persisted. 
  Religious Minorities 
Bulgarian Muslims or "Pomaks" constitute a sizable minority, comprising 
2 to 3 percent of the population.  Bulgarian Muslims are a distinct 
group of Slavic descent whose ancestors converted from orthodox 
Christianity to Islam.  Most are Muslim, although a number have become 
atheists or converted to Christianity. 
Reports continued that some Muslim religious figures refused to perform 
burial services for Muslims with Slavic names, a practice which some 
observers saw as an encroachment on religious freedom. 
There were a series of acts of vandalism directed at Jewish 
  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
Ethnic Turks comprise about 10 percent of the population.  Although 
estimates of the Romani population vary widely, several experts put it 
at about 6 percent.  These are the country's two largest minorities.   
There are no restrictions on the speaking of Turkish in public or the 
use of non-Slavic names.  A defense bill before Parliament renewed 
controversy over the issue of language.  The bill declared Bulgarian to 
be the official language in the armed forces and the language in which 
military duties were to be carried out.  Members of Parliament of the 
mainly ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms tried 
unsuccessfully to amend the bill to affirm the constitutional right to 
use the "mother tongue," for example, in personal conversations and 
correspondence.  The motion was rejected, but use of the mother tongue 
is not prohibited in the military, and Turkish is freely spoken in off-
duty situations. 
Voluntary Turkish-language classes, funded by the Government, continued 
in areas with significant Turkish-speaking populations, although some 
observers complained that the Government was restricting the 
availability of training for teachers and discouraging the optional 
language classes in areas with large concentrations of Bulgarian 
Muslims.  Some ethnic Turkish leaders, mainly in the MRF, demanded that 
Turkish-language schooling be made compulsory in ethnic Turkish areas, 
but the Government resisted this. 
In the 1992 census approximately 3.4 percent of the population 
identified itself as Romani.  The real figure is probably about twice 
that high, since many persons of Romani descent tend to identify 
themselves to the authorities as ethnic Turks or Bulgarians.  Romani 
groups continued to be divided among themselves, although several groups 
had some success presenting Romani issues to the Government.  As 
individuals and as an ethnic group, Roma faced high levels of 
Attacks by private citizens on Romani communities continued to occur in 
1995.  The most serious were a series of attacks in two Romani 
neighborhoods of Stara Zagora in March and April.  A group of young men 
wielding bats and sticks reportedly damaged the property of 11 Romani 
families in March, and a group of young people wearing masks allegedly 
beat 2 Romani women on school grounds in April.  Police have identified 
the alleged perpetrators of the March incident, and an investigation is 
underway.  An arson investigation resulting from the February 1994 
incident in Dolno Belotintsi was suspended later that year because of 
the reluctance of the sole witness to testify.  A human rights NGO was 
able to gather new evidence implicating individuals in the crime and has 
asked the Chief Prosecutor to resume the investigation; no action has 
yet been taken.  Authorities often fail to aggressively investigate 
cases of assault or other crimes against Romani individuals, although 
there was some improvement in their responsiveness to inquiries of human 
rights organizations. 
Roma encounter difficulties applying for social benefits, and rural Roma 
are discouraged from claiming land to which they are entitled under the 
law disbanding agricultural collectives.  Many Roma and other observers 
made credible allegations that the quality of education offered to 
Romani children is inferior to that afforded most other Bulgarian 
The Government took some steps to address the problems faced by Roma.  
The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology convened a forum in 
July to discuss the education of Romani children, during which 
representatives of the President's office, concerned ministries, and 
human rights organizations discussed pedagogical issues.  The Council of 
Ministers disbanded the interagency Ethnic Affairs Council established 
in 1994, replacing it with a National Board on Social and Demographic 
matters with broader responsibilities.  Some observers expressed concern 
over onerous requirements for admission of NGO's to the board.  For 
example, NGO's must have established branches in more than one-third of 
Bulgarian municipalities. 
The Ministry of Education continued its program to introduce Romani-
language schoolbooks into schools with Romani populations and issued 
follow-on textbooks for the program.  The program has had mixed success, 
partly due to a lack of qualified teachers. 
Workplace discrimination against minorities continued to be a problem, 
especially for Roma.  Employers justify such discrimination on the basis 
that most Roma have relatively low training and education.  Supervisory 
jobs are generally given to ethnic Bulgarian employees, with ethnic 
Turks, Bulgarian Muslims, and Roma among the first to be laid off. 
During compulsory military service most Roma (and Muslims--see Section 
2.c.) are shunted into labor units where they often perform commercial, 
military construction, or maintenance work rather than serve in normal 
military units.  The MRF protested this practice, as did human rights 
groups and labor observers who cited it as a violation of International 
Labor Organization (ILO) accords.  There are only a few ethnic Turkish 
and Romani officers in the military. 
Thousands of Bulgarians, mainly in the southwest, identify themselves as 
Macedonians, most for historical and geographic reasons.  Members of the 
two organizations which purport to defend the interests of ethnic 
Macedonians, Umo-Ilinden and Tmo-Ilinden, are believed to number in the 
hundreds (see Section 2.b.). 
Section 6  Worker Rights 
  a.  The Right of Association 
The 1991 Constitution provides for the right of all workers to form or 
join trade unions of their own choice, and this right was apparently 
freely exercised.  Estimates of the unionized share of the workforce 
range from 30 to 50 percent.  This share is shrinking as large firms lay 
off workers, and most new positions appear in small, nonunionized 
Bulgaria has two large trade union confederations, the Confederation of 
Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), and Podkrepa.  CITUB, the 
successor to the trade union controlled by the former Communist regime, 
operates as an independent entity.  Podkrepa, an independent 
confederation created in 1989, was one of the earliest opposition forces 
but is no longer a member of the Union of Democratic Forces, the main 
opposition party.  In February a third trade union confederation, the 
Community of Free Union Organizations in Bulgaria (CFUOB), was admitted 
to the National Tripartite Coordination Council (NTCC), which includes 
employers and the government (see Section 6.b.).  CITUB and Podkrepa 
filed a joint complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO) 
against the Government's selection of CFUOB as the labor delegate to the 
1995 ILO conference.  The ILO found that the Government had unilaterally 
imposed rotation of the labor delegate among three trade union 
organizations without consulting the other two. 
The 1992 Labor Code recognizes the right to strike when other means of 
conflict resolution have been exhausted, but "political strikes" are 
forbidden.  Workers in essential services are prohibited from striking.  
There was no evidence that the Government interfered with the right to 
strike, and several work stoppages took place.  The Labor Code's 
prohibitions against antiunion discrimination include a 6-month period 
of protection against dismissal as a form of retribution.  While these 
provisions appear to be within international norms, there is no 
mechanism other than the courts for resolving complaints, and the burden 
of proof in such a case rests entirely on the employee. 
The ILO in 1993 requested further information on lustration proceedings, 
measures directed at compensating ethnic Turks for abuses under the 
previous regime, efforts taken to improve the economic situation of 
minorities, and measures to promote equality between men and women in 
workplace opportunity.  At year's end, the ILO was still reviewing the 
information provided to it by the Government, including information 
provided this year on efforts to improve the situation of minorities.  
The ILO has not yet issued opinions or recommendations on these matters. 
There are no restrictions on affiliation or contact with international 
labor organizations, and unions actively exercise this right. 
  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
The Labor Code institutes collective bargaining, which was practiced 
nationally and on a local level.  The legal prohibition against striking 
for key public sector employees weakens their bargaining position; 
however, these groups were able to influence negotiations by staging 
protests and engaging in other pressure activities without going on 
strike.  Both CITUB and Podkrepa complained that while the legal 
structure for collective bargaining was adequate, many employers failed  
to bargain in good faith or to adhere to concluded agreements.  Labor 
observers viewed the Government's enforcement of labor contracts as 
Only the three labor members of the National Tripartite Cooperation 
Council are authorized to bargain collectively.  This restriction led to 
complaints by smaller unions, which may in individual workplaces have 
more members than the NTCC members.  Smaller unions also protested their 
exclusion from the NTCC. 
There were no instances in which an employer was found guilty of 
antiunion discrimination and required to reinstate workers fired for 
union activities.  International labor organizations criticized the 
"national representation" requirement for participation in the National 
Tripartite Coordination Council as a violation of the right to organize. 
The same obligation of collective bargaining and adherence to labor 
standards prevails in the export processing zones, and unions may 
organize workers in these areas. 
  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  Many observers 
agreed that the practice of shunting minority and conscientious-objector 
military draftees into work units which often carry out commercial 
construction and maintenance projects is a form of forced labor (Section 
  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 16; the minimum 
for dangerous work is set at 18.  Employers and the Ministry of Labor 
and Social Welfare (MLSW) are responsible for enforcing these 
provisions.  Child labor laws are enforced well in the formal sector.  
Underage employment in the informal and agricultural sectors is 
increasing as collective farms are broken up and the private sector 
continues to grow.  In addition, children work on family-owned tobacco 
  e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work 
The national monthly minimum wage was approximately $38 (2,555 leva) at 
year's end.  The minimum wage is not enough to provide a wage earner and 
family with a decent standard of living.  The Constitution stipulates 
the right to social security and welfare aid assistance for the 
temporarily unemployed, although in practice such assistance is often 
either late or not disbursed. 
The Labor Code provides for a standard workweek of 40 hours with at 
least one 24-hour rest period per week.  The MLSW is responsible for 
enforcing both the minimum wage and the standard workweek.  Enforcement 
has been generally effective in the state sector, although there are 
reports that state-run enterprises fall into arrears on salary payments 
to their employees if the firms incur losses.  Enforcement of work 
conditions is weaker in the emerging private sector. 
A national labor safety program exists, with standards established by 
the Labor Code.  The Constitution states that employees are entitled to 
healthy and nonhazardous working conditions.  The MLSW is responsible 
for enforcing these provisions.  Under the Labor Code, employees have 
the right to remove themselves from work situations which present a 
serious or immediate danger to life or health without jeopardizing their 
continued employment.  In practice, refusal to work in situations with 
relatively high accident rates or associated chronic health problems 
would result in loss of employment for many workers.  Conditions in many 
cases are worsening owing to budget stringencies and a growing private 
sector which labor inspectors do not yet supervise effectively. 

2-7 Temperatures 
(by Plamen Bliznakov), last updated: 06-Apr-1994
Bulgaria offers a lot of sunshine.  The climate is continental with four
seasons and a Mediterranean influence in its southern regions.  Although
the Black Sea coast has mild winters, there is excellent snow for winter
sports in the mountains.

The winter temperature varies between -5 deg Celsius and +5 deg Celsius
(+20 deg F to +40 deg F).  The average summer temperatures are between
+20 deg Celsius and +30 deg Celsius (+68 deg F to +86 deg F).  Bring
warm clothing in winter (especially, if you go to the mountains) and
light clothing in summer.

2-8 Bulgarian Clothing
(by Rossen Zlatev), last updated: 31-Dec-1991
    Bulgarian folk clothes are very colorful and nice. Both women and
men wear white shirts with an embroidered bodice and skirts, richly
ornamented as well. The types of folk clothes vary according the region
and some times are very different, as though from different countries. The
clothes are so colorful and pretty that it seems they reflect all
the colors of nature. It is not possible to describe, it can only be
    It is not possible to see people wearing traditional clothes in
the streets, as with kimonos in Japan. Bulgarians wear modern dress,
which are quite the same as anywhere in Europe. But there are a lot of
Folklore schools that study and preserve national traditions - dances,
clothes and folk music. When speaking about folklore clothes it is not
possible not to mention Bulgarian folk dances and music. Mountain
Rodopa, known as a birthplace of Orpheus, is one of the numerous regions
in which traditional folk music can be heard. On the "Voyager" satellite,
sent to another possible civilization, one of the messages included was
a song from this mountain. Maybe the variety of the Bulgarian folk is one
of the explanations of Bulgarian voice magic. A large number of world's
famous opera singers, instrumentalists and choirs have popularized
the power and beauty of Bulgarian performing art.

2-9 Bulgarian Architecture
(by Rossen Zlatev), last updated: 31-Dec-1991
    During the Ottoman rule the influence of European architecture was
weak. For this reason it is not possible to find big buildings
with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries. Instead of that there are a
lot of houses and small towns that keep the original beauty of
the Bulgarian National Revival (18-19 centuries). One of the most famous is
Plovdiv's Old Town. Behind stone walls and wrought iron gates along the
steep cobbled streets are lovely gardens with flowers and
symmetrical houses with colorful painted facades, bay and lattice
windows. Lovely carved ceilings, murals and exquisite furniture adorn
the interiors. Many of these houses are now museums, others are folk-style
restaurants, and the remainder are inhabited.
    Monuments, buildings and archaeological excavations from different
times can be found all over the country. Here are some of them: Varna's
ancient necropolis which revealed proofs of the first European civilization
and the world's oldest gold dated to 4600-4200 B.C.; The Kazanluk Thracian
Cupol Tomb dated to the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century
B.C., containing unique murals - the only surviving monuments of Hellenic
painting, included in the List of World Cultural Heritage.; A Roman
Amphitheater from the 2nd century - the biggest one in the Balkan Peninsula
outside of Greece; The Rila Monastery founded in 9th century - the biggest
monum of Bulgarian Architecture from that time; Kotel and Zeravna - two
villages in the Balkan mountain that have saved their original architecture
from the National Revival. The spirit of these villages can not be
described, it can only be seen and experienced.
    Apart from the old buildings, there are a large number of modern resorts
at the Black Sea's beach and mountains. They have a different modern
architecture that provide a good holiday time and refuge from the noise
of the 20th century.

2-10 Who are the Slavs 
(by Harry Tsamaidis), last updated: 02-Jul-1996
Slavs are any of several groups of peoples, most of whom live 
in Eastern Europe.  There are about 275 million Slavs.  They
speak similar languages, called the Slavic or Slavonic

The first Slavs lived over 5,000 years ago in a region
that now forms part of the northwestern Ukraine and 
southeastern Poland.  From A.D. 200 to 500, they migrated
to other parts of Europe.  Some Slavs settled in what are
now the western Soviet Union and eastern and central Europe.
Other Slavs migrated to the region of southeastern Europe
known as the Balkans.

During the 800's, the Slavs established the Great Moravian
Empire, which united the peoples of central Europe for the
first time.  In 906, the empire was conquered by the Magyars,
the ancestors of the Hungarians.  Since then, the Slavs have
been ruled by many foreign powers, including the Byzantine
Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Germany.

In 1918, after World War I ended, the Slavs established such
independant states as Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Former
Yugoslavia.  Germany conquered these Slavic states during
World War II (1939-1945).  
Today, the Soviet Union dominates most of the Slavic peoples.
In eastern Europe, only the Slavs of Former Yugoslavia; and 
Greece are free of Soviet rule.

Historians classify the Slavs into three main groups-
(1) eastern, (2) western, and (3) southern - based on the 
regions in which these people live.

			       Eastern Slavs

consist of the Byelorussions, or White Russians; the Russians, 
or Great Russians; and the Ukrainians, or Little Russians.
The eastern Slavs were strongly influenced by the culture of the
Byzantine Empire.  About A.D. 988, the ruler of the Russian Slavs,
Grand Prince Vladimir I, married a Byzantine princess and became
a Christian.  As a result, most of the people under his rule also
turned to Christianity.  Today, many eastern Slavs belong to 
Eastern Orthodox Churches.

			       Western Slavs

form a group that includes the Czechs; the Slovaks; the Poles; and the
Wends, who also are known as Sorbs or Lusatians.  The Wends live in
East Germany.  During the 800's, two Greek monks, named Cyril
and Methodius, converted many western Slavs to Christianity.
At that time, church services were held in Greek or Latin, which
few people could understand.  But Cyril and Methodius held services
in the language of the Slavs, called Old Church Slavonic.

As the western Slavs became involved in the affairs of western Europe, 
they also became influenced by the Roman Catholic Church.  Through the
Centuries, the Catholic Church has strongly influenced western
European Culture.  Today, most western Slavs are Roman Catholics.

			      Southern Slavs

are a group composed of the Bulgarians, the Croats, the Macedonians, 
the Serbs, and the Slovenes.  During the 800's, a large number of 
southern Slavs were converted to Christianity by followers of Cyril
and Methodius.  However, these Slaves were also strongly influenced
by the Byzantine culture.  Today, the majority of southern Slavs
belong to Eastern Orthodox Churches.  Most members of the group
live in the Balkans.

2-11 Who are the Pomaks 
(by Roumi Radenska), last updated: 31-Jul-1994
'Pomaks' is the name of pretty large group of people who live
mainly in Rhodopi mountains (southern Bulgaria, close to the
border with Greece). They have muslim names and speak very
ancient bulgarian language (bulgarian belongs to the group of
slavic languages). Their ancestors were slavic christian people
who accepted muslim religion. This fact took place in 16th and
17th centuries. There were several ways to become muslim that
time, when Bulgaria like all Balkan peninsula, was part of the
Ottoman empire. But most common paths to islamiztion were:

1. Through marriages. This way was valid for a number of
bulgarian women.

2. Voluntary islamization. Main reason for that was escaping a
lot of taxes.

3. Forced islamization. The largest amount of 'pomaks' became
muslims that way. There are well known several ottoman actions
for islamiztion of bulgarians living in Rhodopi mountain during
17th century. Here is coming the question: why ottomans forced
the people living in that region only to accept the muslim faith?
One of the explanations is: Rhodopi mountains were a huge hunting
field for the sultan, his family and large number of his people.
They needed to be served during their stay there (some times for
months). According to their believes they have to be served only
by muslims. That's why ottomans forced the large amount of
bulgarian population in Rhodops to accept the islam. 

How we know about that fact? Ottoman empire had excellent
organized tax system. All taxpayers were registered in books,
their land or other property described in order to determine the
taxes. Naming the taxpayers ottomans used identification on first
name of the person and the name of his father. For example:
Khasan, son of Ivan. Khasan is muslim name, but Ivan is slavonic,
christian name.  This is the way we know that 'pomaks' used to be
slavic christian people before they became muslims. A lot of
books from all 500 years of ottoman rule over Bulgaria containing
data about taxes and taxpayers are saved in archives in Sofia,
Burgas, Istanbul.   

'Pomaks' were pretty isolated from the rest of the bulgarian
society for centuries. They saved that old bulgarian language and
some old customs which took place before 17th century. About 20
years ago, in the beginning of 1970s, the ethnography professor
Ivan Koev from Sofia University lead a student expedition to
pomak region called 'Chech'. They did research on language,
crafts and customs in that area. I visited the village of
Sarnitza entirely populated by pomaks in 1983. My impressions of
that visit are still fresh. All the houses were new two stories
brick buildings. Many families had cars. A lot of children were
playing in the yards dressed with snow white shirts. It was such
a peaceful picture and all the past seemed to be forgotten.

2-12 Where to buy Bulgarian Flags
(by The Flag Guys), last updated: 17-Sep-1995
We have a 3x5 foot Bulgarian flag.  If interested in getting one, email for the info.
The Flag Guys
5636 N Delaware, Portland, OR 97217-4206 USA
voice (503) 289-7158, fax (503) 286-0236,


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