Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Forget Palestine": Fighting back an infection

Iranian students are protesting against the Mullah government and their dear President. Police besieged the campus and entered there, arresting and severely beating protesters (see for details). Of course Bulgarian media report none of this, it is not interesting. The same can be said about the international "big" media, as Iranian-Canadian blogger "Winston" rightfully complains ( Don't the brave young Iranian freedom fighters deserve at least being mentioned in the news and some passive sympathy that costs nothing?
What especially impressed me were their slogans: "We don't want nuclear energy" and, notably, "Forget Palestine - think of us". In the current war threatening to destroy the civilization, Palestine is an unusual hot spot. It has become the banner of the enemy, some kind of an infection, an abscess causing blood poisoning again and again. To be honest, in my early youth I also was pro-Palestinian, but stopped supporting them as soon as I realized what their cause actually was. In the post-Sept. 11 world, only intellectual and/or moral deficiency can make a Westerner support the Palestinians (both deficiencies are observed fairly often, accounting for many millions of pro-Palestinian Westerners). However, in Muslim societies the pro-Palestinian propaganda is so overwhelming that anybody can succumb to it. During the February cartoon crisis, I acquired the habit to frequent Arab blogs. Regrettably, most of these blogs not only contain pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli/Jewish materials, but evidently post them fairly often, because you needn't even read much of the blog to find one or more of them. When I spot such a text, I think of the blog's author, "How sad! He/she is also infected."
So I am pleased to learn that the Iranian students have managed to fight back this virulent infection of the mind. They have saved their souls, and many of the people who built the civilization would say this is the most important of all things. As for me, I also wish them to get rid of their crazy blood-thirsty rulers and enjoy freedom soon, and without a war if possible.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wanton killing of animals

I cannot understand people who kill animals just for fun. There was a grey cat hanging around our block of apartments. She was young, last year she was a kitten. This spring she was in her first pregnancy, the kittens were already about to be born. She was in perfect health, and suddenly was found dead under a parked car. Somebody must have given her poison, somebody who disliked cats and didn't want to have more of them around. I only wish him to have rodents all over his house.
And in the village of Rasnik, where we were during the weekend, something much worse happened. There is a stork nest in the middle of the village, near our house. I used to see there a pair of storks for years. This spring I was seeing only one stork, but I thought the other was flying around, looking for food or something. Eh well, this weekend the nest was empty. Only sparrows were there, they nest in the lower half of the stork's nest. I told my mother-in-law. She said, "Didn't you know that last autumn somebody killed one of the storks with a stone? So this spring only his widowed partner returned to the nest, but now he has evidently left. I've heard that storks form pairs for life, I don't know what happens if one loses its partner,
possibly he dies soon as well."
I just don't want to go to Rasnik anymore, I'm so disgusted.

Monday, May 22, 2006

An accident at the Bulgarian nuclear plant

This news is somewhat old, but it doesn't matter - I am not a news agency.
First, let me paste my comment to Highlander's March 16 post that Libya is going to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes (
"I am sorry to learn this news, because I am an opponent of nuclear power. I remember how Bulgarian authorities concealed the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Several days after the explosion, when the radioactive clouds reached our skies, people and children were forced to march at the May 1st parade under the rain.
We actually have a nuclear plant and are told that it produces the cheapest electricity. Of course, if you do not count the subsidies for nuclear electricity (or any other heavily subsidized product), it will always look the cheapest.
Our nuclear lobby wants to make more money by building a second nuclear plant. It will be located near a nice historical town (I meant Svishtov - M.M.). For that reason, the town has been stripped of funds for decades: let's leave it with no infrastructure, no jobs, no future, so that people move somewhere else and the victims are fewer if the whole damn thing explodes.
When arguing with people brainwashed to believe that nuclear power is a blessing, I ask them: After you approve nuclear power, would you send your brother or son to dig uranium? The answers: the uranium is produced in Russia, the miners are convicts and so on. As if "the others" - Russians or prisoners, are not human beings."
Now, the news: I am translating below parts of Netinfo's May 3 report titled "The nuclear plant managers confessed a March 1 incident and demanded a higher electricity price". The whole text in Bulgarian is available at

"The manager board of the Kozlodui nuclear power station finally, with a delay of 2 months, confessed that an accident occurred at reactor No. 5 on March 1...
At the same time it became known that the Kozlodui plant has demanded from the Government commission for energy and water regulation a 5% higher price for the electricity produced at Kozlodui...
The March 1 accident was not foreseen in the plant project... It was a problem with the protection management system. From a total of 61 protection devices, 22 could not be switched on. The reactor had to be kept off work for 10 days.
The plant managers were accused of cover-up, fierce discussions followed, and the period was put by the Minister of economy and energy Rumen Ovcharov, who declared that "nothing has happened".
The nuclear plant secret was revealed by the former chairman of the Nuclear regulation agency Georgi Kaschiev, who last week told to German and Austrian media what had happened on March 1. Kaschiev, who now works in Vienna, explained the nature and chronology of the accident, now confirmed by the plant managers...
The phenomenon was not foreseen by the plant designers. It happens for the first time in the world practice of nuclear reactors...
The executive manager of the Kozlodui plant Ivan Ivanov tried to explain why information was provided with a delay of 2 months, saying that time was needed to fully clarify the causes for the accident. A week ago in a TV interview he said nothing of the kind and fiercely denied the seriousness of the accident."

I wish to add several things to the above citation.
Georgi Kaschiev said that according to the internationally accepted scale of nuclear accidents from grade 1 to 7 the March 1 accident was grade 3 (Chernobyl was 7).
Kaschiev's testimony was first dismissed not only by the nuclear plant managers and government, but also by the media who are strongly pro-nuclear. It was pointed out that Kaschiev was appointed by Ivan Kostov. The latter was Prime Minister in 1997 - 2001, demonized by the media and, to my opinion, the best politician in recent Bulgarian history.
The events following March 1 illustrate very well why every thinking person should either oppose nuclear electricity or at least hold grave suspicion. You see that after March 1, as after Chernobyl, the efforts of the nuclear plant people and the government were focused not on coping with the accident aftermath, but on concealing and cover-up. This shows that (1) we cannot rely on the official statistics for nuclear accidents, because many may have been successfully covered up and (2) in a case of more serious accident, we cannot expect appropriate actions, because the most valuable time for such actions will be devoted to denial and concealing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Times: Bulgaria is "a land of greed, killing and corruption"

On May 12, London Times published an article about Bulgaria titled EU prepares to embrace a land of greed, killing and corruption (author Anthony Browne). You can read it at,,13509-2176371,00.html. I originally learned about this from Netinfo in Bulgarian, but the Bulgarian page seems to have expired, at least I can't find it now. Here are some citations from the article:
"NEVENA LUBENOVA was lying on her couch in the small hours when the bomb blew in the front door of her flat, throwing her across the room, knocking down walls and smashing windows over seven storeys of the decrepit Soviet-style block...
The bomb was intended for her son, Vassil Ivanov, a chain-smoking investigative journalist for Nova TV who has exposed corruption in Bulgaria...
Asked whether he thinks the police will catch the perpetrators, he laughs wearily. “No.”
The power of organised crime in Bulgaria is finally beginning to alarm the European Union only seven months before the former communist state and its neighbour, Romania, are due to join.
Since 2001, 150 people have died in daylight killings in Sofia, the capital...But despite the blizzard of contract killings — which cost £30,000 each — no one has been jailed.
The Government is widely suspected of turning a blind eye to organised crime, which holds sway over the country’s political, business and judicial systems...
Corruption is widespread in Bulgaria, a country so poor that donkeys pulling carts still wander around the capital and average incomes in the countryside are £100 a month...
John Menzies, chairman of the Canadian mining firm EurOmax, learnt about organised crime when he upset a Bulgarian rival by winning a licence to prospect for gold.
The rival organised and financed violent protests. EurOmax’s site was occupied and its equipment sabotaged under the eyes of local police. Mr Menzies was told that he would be beaten to death with hammers. “It is an incredibly confrontational society,” he said.
He now warns other international investors to be wary. “This is a risky place for foreign investment. Every foreign investor has had the same experience — it’s universal.”
The Government insists that it is clamping down. Ivailo Kalfin, the Foreign Minister, said: “We do have a problem, but it’s not a problem that makes Bulgaria very different from other EU countries. We are fighting it.”
But Klaus Jensen, a German investigator sent by the EU to assess Bulgaria’s fitness to join, came away shocked at the Government’s complacency, declaring. “They believed they would get into the EU anyway, and I encountered a ‘kiss my ass’ attitude,” he said.
The irony is that EU membership could boost Bulgarian corruption rathen than combat it..."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Highlander joined the campaign for Mr. Vashkevich

I wish to express many thanks to Highlander, who put a post about Mr. Vashkevich on her blog at Thanks also to Programmer Craig, who gave her the idea.
This morning I went to the library to see the Trud copy from May 2. The photocopied article is now in front of me. I'm translating a part of it which is important and had not been displayed in the Web.
"Vashkevich, 62, has lived in Bulgaria since 1996... Svetla Toshkova, head of the cabinet of Vice President Marin, explained that Vashkevich is not under threat and nobody is going to deport him. The (Asylum) Commission decided to refuse him asylum after careful examination and over 10 sessions, she said. The main motive for the decision was that no convincing proofs were found for the dissident activity of Vashkevich in Belarus."
Unlike Ms. Toshkova, I don't find the situation very comforting. Her words rather seem to imply that there may be many more endangered asylum seekers in Bulgaria. Just think, these buraucrats are wasting the taxpayers' money to hold over 10 sessions to discuss whether a Belarussian can prove his dissidency or not! Thank God that during the Communist era Western governments weren't so scrutinous - the fact that an asylum seeker was from Bulgaria was enough for them.
I wonder, if e.g. an Iranian seeks asylum in Bulgaria, will the Commission require proof of his opposition activity, such as a video showing him throwing an egg at Pres. Ahmadinejad? If blacks from Darfur say they fear for their lives, will our buraucrats say, "You must reveal some real reason to fear. If you prove that you originally had more kids and some were already slain, that will do." I am ashamed that I, while enjoying freedom, evidently have to advise the less lucky people to seek asylum in some other country, not in Bulgaria.
Otherwise, I am not surprised that our authorities, while removing the legal obstacles to deporting Michail Vashkevich, do not intend to proceed with the deportation immediately. They want first to see the reaction, as we say, to see which direction the wind is blowing from. As Sandmonkey said about Egyptian government (at he is organizing a campaign to free jailed protesters), "They are cowardly, they succumb to pressure." So is our government, and if they face pressure from opposite direction and realize they can't appease everybody, they'll likely choose to appease the civilized world. Therefore I think it is necessary to protest. Of course opinions of ordinary people aren't as good as documents issued by governments, ambassadors and even NGOs, but we can do only as much.
I intend to abstain from posting for several days, to keep the posts about Mr. Vashkevich as actual, in case somebody visits. See earlier post "Solidarity for Michail Vashkevich" for e-mails where you can send your opinion.

Friday, May 12, 2006

More about Michail Vashkevich

First I wish to thank Stefania, who wrote about Mr. Vashkevich's situation in her blog. She has a wonderful blog devoted to freedom, its URL is
Reader Programmer Craig asked about more information about the case. I haven't found any reports in English; in fact, it is exactly this silence that is dangerous because if nothing is said about an event, it will remain a non-event to the world and nothing will be done about it. There are is very little talk even in the Bulgarian public space. I learned about Mr. Vashkevich's refused asylum from a reader's letter in the Pro & Anti weekly newspaper. The only report I found in the "big" media was in Trud (the most popular Bulgarian daily newspaper) from May 2, 2006, author Albena Bachvarova, title We have allegedly refused asylum to a Moonist from Belarus. The beginning of the article in Bulgarian can be read at I am translating it to English:
"Bulgaria is refusing political asylum to a dissident from Belarus, human rights activists alarmed. The victim is Michail Vashkevich, fighter against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
According to Vashkevich, on March 28, 2006 he received refusal to his request of a political asylum. The refusal is issued by the Asylum Committee of the Vice President Angel Marin. This refusal could endanger Mr. Vashkevich's life because he could be deported to Belarus where he could be killed. The dissident explains that the President's administration decided his fate days after the elections in Belarus were again won by Lukashenko, and claims that the refusal has something to do with Lukashenko's victory..."
Only this part of the report is available online, and I haven't the Trud copy from May 2. I don't know whether Mr. Vashkevich is really a Moonist, nor do I care, but you see that for Trud this fact (if a fact at all) seems so important that they have put it in the title. The message is clear: why to care about the freedom and life of a Moonist?
The source I cited in my previous post,, is unofficial - a participant in a Web forum. I'll translate a part of it as well:
"...Right from the moment Lukashenko was "elected", he began to deal with the opposition in Belarus. A number of opposition leaders disappeared. Vashkevich escaped to Bulgaria where he had many difficulties to obtain political asylum. Finally, our previous Government granted him asylum till 2008. From Bulgaria, Vashkevich continued his pro-democracy activism, using letters and the Internet. Presumably to appease the Belarussian KGB, the President of free and independent Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov on April 11, 2006 issued order No. 94-01-173 - a refusal to grant asylum to Vashkevich. The order cannot be appealed and so hands Vashkevich to Lukashenko. Vashkevich has turned to Western ambassadors in Bulgaria for help... It is clear that Lukashenko and Parvanov are in a hurry (to deport Vashkevich) before Bulgaria joins the EU, because in an EU country such acts are unacceptable..."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Solidarity for Michail Vashkevich

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has REFUSED political asylum to Belarussian dissident Michail Vashkevich. Now Mr. Vashkevich can be deported to Belarus, the last European dictatorship, where he is likely to be arrested, tortured and even killed. You can read the details (in Bulgarian) at
I am enraged that the so-called media are silent and the so-called civil society in Bulgaria is doing nothing. The President we have elected is handing freedom fighters to dictators and nobody says a word!
At, e-mails in support of Mr. Vashkevich are collected. You can also contact the President at The fields are, as follows: name, age, occupation, e-mail, phone number, message. Alternatively, you can e-mail to the President at