Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boyko Borisov: portrait of a winner

On May 20, Bulgarians voted for the first time to send representatives to the European Parliament. You can see the results at Most of the votes have gone to GERB (the party of the Sofia mayor Boyko Borisov), to the Socialist party and to DPS (the Movement for Rights and Freedoms). These three parties have obtained almost equal number of votes and will have 5 seats each. Two other parties will also send representatives to the European Parliament: Ataka (2 seats) and NDSV (Simeon II National Movement, 1 seat).
To be honest, I considered not voting at these elections because I don't believe the European Parliament is a useful institution. However, finally I made up my mind to vote (for one of the rightist parties that remained below the bar). So now I may, like every thinking Bulgarian, pull off my hair as I'm looking at the election results, but at least I don't feel guilty.
Why do I regard the results as a disaster? Let's mention the winning parties one by one. I've blogged about NDSV's leader Simeon II Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at and about Ataka at (D. Stoyanov will go to the European Parliament again as the first of the two Ataka representatives). I've also blogged about the Turkish party DPS at In these elections, its good result was due not only to almost 100% mobilization of ethnic Turkish and Bulgarian Muslim voters (projected on the low activity of Bulgarian voters) but also on bribing many Gypsies and reportedly on intimidating some Bulgarians to vote for DPS. The Socialist Party is the renamed Communist Party from the Iron Curtain era; it still talks and promises social nonsense to its voters despite making virtually every member of its leadership a rich capitalist - need I say anything more? So now I have to describe only the big winner - GERB or, to be precise, its leader Boyko Borisov, because no one ordinary Bulgarian, including those who have voted for GERB, knows anything about its program or can name a distinguished member of the party other than Borisov.
My work is facilitated by Wikipedia, where Borisov is featured both in English and in Bulgarian. Born in 1959, he graduated the police college as a firefighter lieutenant in 1982 and began work in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (the police). He made a PhD thesis titled Psychological and physical training of (police and firefighter) personnel. (I had to work on my PhD thesis for 11 years and to publish its results in peer reviewed journals with impact factor, so excuse me if I view Borisov's "PhD" as a personal insult.) Borisov was a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party - this was mandatory for every police officer during the Communist rule. After this rule ended in 1989, police were de-politicized and their officers had the choice to leave the Party or resign. Borisov preferred the Party and left the police in 1990. However, I wouldn't rush to call him a diehard communist - I think this was for him not a political matter but a convinient way to obtain a honourable discharge in order to start a business.
In 1991, Borisov founded the private security company IPON-1 that guarded personalities like the former dictator Todor Zhivkov and the above mentioned Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. I copied this from Wikipedia. What you won't find in Wikipedia is that IPON-1 was one of the numerous "security companies" abundant in the early 1990s and active in intimidation of the nascent private sector. Every businessman had to pay one or another of these companies for security, or trouble followed. The "security personnel" became known as mutras. Before 1990, "mutra" was an informal word for "face", usually an ugly man's face. Later, it became a term for the whole personality of the mutra-possessing racketeer thug. A person I know worked at that time for a company guarded by IPON-1. When Borisov's star rose on the political sky, that person said to me, "How can people like Borisov? Don't they see that he is a mutra?" The same source told me that "he isn't a dull mutra, he knows his business and never puts his signature under a document that may later be used against him". I'm citing this person because I fully trust him. At, you'll find (in Bulgarian) much more outrageous information about Borisov, but I prefer not to cite it, because I cannot guarantee the source is trustworthy. The author has preferred to remain anonimous, which I find more disturbing than anything he reports: apparently, when it comes to Boyko Borisov (similarly to Islam in other countries), free speech exists no more.
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha presumably appreciated the security provided by IPON-1, because when he became Prime Minister in 2001, Boyko Borisov returned to the police on a white horse. He became Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and colonel. Next year Borisov was promoted again, to general. As some commented ironically, such a fast climbing up the ranks is usually observed only for active combatants during a war.
In Bulgaria, the Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is the highest-ranking professional in the Ministry responsible for implementing the policy of the Minister (a political and usually non-professional figure) into practical actions. However, the Secretary also has the function to address the public in cases of important events concerning the police. So, if a charismatic and ambitious person occupies this post, there is a danger that, instead of serving the law and order, he will use his position to make himself popular as a stepstone for a future political career. This has happened before with Bogomil Bonev, Secretary in the early 1990s and not too far from winning the 2001 presidential elections (he remained third). Boyko Borisov's performance fitted the same pattern, in an enhanced and much more dangerous variant. In the early 2000s, I watched more TV and had more social contacts than now, so I could see Borisov's tactic and its reflection on ordinary Bulgarians.
Look at Borisov's photo above (copied from; the same photo was used in the recent election campaign for the European Parliament). Though a single static image, it tells much about Borisov and the roots of his popularity. First, this heavily built man with large mandible is very masculine. He is a macho archetype, or as I called him once, a Neanderthalian sex symbol ( Being a heterosexual woman, I can easily detect his powerful primitive sexuality; however, I can even more easily reject its appeal, thanks to the thick layers of culture covering the female animal in my core. But many Bulgarian women yielded to Borisov's charm.
Of course this wouldn't be enough to bring success, because only half of the voters are female. One could expect Borisov's Paleolithic masculinity, while attracting women, to turn jealous men away. Perhaps it would, if they were truly men. But in our not so distant communist past, the omnipresent and intrusive government restrained and protected us in the same time, predictably making us infantile. To give an example, the majority of healthy adult Bulgarians don't regard themselves truly capable to stand on their own feet and provide for themselves, therefore they don't vote right. A party that doesn't promise tons of "social politics" has no chance to win elections in Bulgaria. Deep inside, our adults feel like children left on their own in a complex and cruel world; and Borisov appeared in front of them as a strong and caring Big Brother.
A psychologist said that the appearance and posture of Borisov (e.g. the leaned head) radiates aggression but this only brings him popularity because he is perceived as the good guy who will protect us from the bad guys and beat them up. Indeed, he deliberately makes himself looking aggressive by his three-day beard, short haircut and black leather jacket - the last two characteristics shared by regular participants in street fights. I don't see well how he is dressed in the above photo, but he usually wears the black leather jacket even on occasions when the protocol requires a suit. During his term as a police Secretary, whenever a grave crime occurred, he was quick to arrive at the scene in his jacket (like Batman, as Starshel paper ironized him). Presumably stepping on and damaging pieces of forensic evidence, he was explaining to journalists that the perpetrators would soon be found. The public liked these promises and didn't at all insist that they be kept.
By 2005, he was so popular that Saxe-Coburg-Gotha used him as a bait for voters in the parliamentary elections. Borisov was nominated and elected in two regions but didn't take his position in Parliament and openly admitted that he had taken part in the elections only "for the King's (i.e. Simeon's) sake". I think that in any normal democratic country such a behaviour would put an end to the person's popularity and political career. In Bulgaria, it didn't. Later in the same year, he was elected Mayor of the capital Sofia - the third most important position in the country after the Prime Minister and the President.
A year and a half later, the approval rating of Boyko Borisov remains high in Sofia, though it will be difficult for his supporters to say what actually he has done for the city. I can point at only one major achievement: unraveling of massive theft at the Sofia's heating utility, leading to the indictment of its former head Valentin Dimitrov (nicknamed Valyo the Warmth by journalists after the scandal bursted out). At, you can read (in English) a short report about Dimitrov covering just a small episode of his saga; many millions of Euros with unexplainable origin were found in Dimitrov's accounts in Bulgarian and foreign banks. In Bulgaria, a major cause for the widespread chronic poverty are the "natural" monopolies - the heating, electricity, water and telephone companies that enjoy priviledged law status and rob the population with impunity, charging the hapless client as much as they want. In big cities, poor insulation of most homes and of heating pipes, combined with lack of control over the heating company, leads to average heating bills approaching average salaries. Moreover, once you have heating pipes in your home, you are forced to pay the heating company even if you decide not to use its services and remove all radiators. So it is small wonder that, despite the nearly subtropical climate of Bulgaria, we expect the winter with horror in our hearts - another feature (besides liking people like Borisov) which unites us with the Neanderthals. It is also logical that ordinary people cheered Borisov for exposing Valyo the Warmth. Unfortunately, they forgot to ask why, after the big thief was caught, the heating bills during the following winter were as high as before and even higher. To me, the only explanation is that somebody is stealing again, this time with the blessing of Mayor Borisov.
How will Borisov's career develop now after his May 20 election victory? Nobody knows exactly, but it is surely ascending and I don't like this at all. As my friend said years ago during Bogomil Bonev's campaign, in no real democracy could a person coming from the police be a serious candidate for any important elected position; this is possible only in a police state, or in a nascent democracy wished by too many of its citizens to become a police state. But besides his police background, there are many other reasons not to elect Borisov, as I pointed above. Radio Free Europe rightly called him (during the 2005 municipal election campaign) "a dangerous populist". (BTW, looking for my old post where I had mentioned Borisov in order to cite it, I tried a Google search for Boyko Neanderthal. The search results included a participant in the Sofia News Agency forum saying, "I'm terrified that anyone considers the neanderthal King Mutra Uncle Boyko could hold any post in public life". So the cyberspace contains at least one other person sharing my opinion.)
Somebody could ask, "But comparing Borisov to the other figures in the Bulgarian political panopticum, do you really find him much worse than the others? What actual harm do you expect from his potential rule, keeping in mind that now much of Bulgaria's politics will be determined by the European Union?" The answer: I don't expect Borisov to do much harm to the factual reality in Bulgaria, in the way Prime Minister Zhan Videnov did in 1996-97 (when Bulgaria was deprived of bread and monthly incomes dropped to the equivalent of $ 3-5). But I expect Borisov to harm the miniscule seeds of civil society in Bulgaria, because he wins support by directly engaging the subcortical brain regions and so cultivates stupidity. So his rule will postpone the emergence of true democracy in Bulgaria.
What actually is "true democracy"? It isn't just free and fair elections. It also requires political vote. That is, thinking citizens choosing between alternative programs of political parties. When people's vote is based on the candidate's tribal affiliation or personal charisma, this is not true democracy, even if the elections are free and fair. I won't say that democracy is not good for Bulgarians (or any other nation) because "they are not yet ready for it". This argument belongs to the arsenal of racist bigots and other enemies of civilization. I side with those who say that nations need time and practice to learn democratic rule after obtaining democracy, as individuals need time and practice to learn swimming after they enter the pool. But as years pass, now almost 2 decades since we were thrown into the water of democracy, I sometimes think in despair that we'll never learn to swim properly. At least we don't drown each other during our swimming lessons, as Iraqis do. But this is a pretty low standard to set.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mideast conflict: the dire consequences of a "deadly and disgusting bias"

On the evening of May 14, 1948 Israel declared independence. Therefore, May 15 is marked by Palestinians and other Arabs as Nakba (Catastrophe) day ( This week, AngloLibyan wrote a post about it ( Libyan-British blogger Mani (currently occupying the prestigeous position of my favourite opponent) commented, "Besides the plights and inhumane suffering of everyone in the world, this issue is the only one in the world treated with such deadly and disgusting bias". With some envy to the power of his expression, I copied and reposted it as my comment to the same thread. Nobody caught my irony! So I decided, instead of trolling on other people's blogs, to sit down and write a post of my own.
I agree with Karl Popper that frankly stating where you stand is better than even the most sincere attempts to be objective, so let me say right now that I am strongly pro-Israel. It hasn't always been so: in my school years, even in high school, I was strongly pro-Palestinian. I felt sympathy to the plight of Palestinians, forced to live under occupation of newcomers on their land, as we Bulgarians were "occupied" by the Ottoman Turks centuries ago. I wondered why Palestinians weren't allowed to have their own little corner, their state in the West Bank and Gaza. I was outraged by the number of children killed and maimed in the conflict. Because Israel had statehood and democracy, I held ordinary Israelis more or less responsible for every action of their army, while at the same time I didn't hold ordinary Palestinians responsible at all for the actions of Palestinian terrorists, as I wouldn't agree to be held responsible for another person's crime just because he is Bulgarian like me.
Over years, my opinion gradually changed. I learned more about the rights of Israeli Arabs and of the actually quite benign treatment of Palestinians by Israelis even in the occupied territories. E.g. look at the first image above (copied from the cited AngloLibyan's post, original source unknown) - can you imagine a Chechen boy standing in a similar way near a Russian tank and a photographer allowed to make a shot? I acknowledged the autonomy given to Palestinians by Israel. I appreciated the abolitionist position of Israel on death penalty. But what actually changed my mind was not the behaviour of Israelis but that of Palestinians. As the proverb says, nobody can do to you (a thing as bad as) what you do to yourself. I saw wide-spread Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War; wide-spread support to terrorists, including terrorists specifically targeting children; using terrorist organizations as a substitute for political parties and electing their ringleaders; widespread and public joy after the deaths of innocent people at the hands of terrorists, mainly (but not exclusively) after Sept. 11; using their own children as mere weapons in the war against the Jews, if not conceiving children specifically for this purpose. I realized that Palestinians didn't actually want their own little corner in the West Bank and Gaza but a base from where to attack and eventually destroy Israel and its Jewish population.
Let me now, without claiming any expertise in history, try and write a brief historical overview of the conflict. I won't care to find and cite every source - it would take a month. Besides, it is not so important, because there is little real contradiction between the sources. They may seem as different from each other as Heaven is from Earth, but if you remove some adjectives and other emotionally charged words, the claims of Israeli and Arab historians and even propagandists turn out to be essentially the same. E.g. if you step across any gallery of Palestinians "heroes" and "martyrs" and show curiousity what they have actually done, you will reveal stories corresponding almost word-to-word to what Israeli sources say.
The conflict prehistory begins nearly two millenia ago, when after unsuccessful uprisings most of the surviving Jews were expelled from Palestine by the Romans. Eventually, their place was taken by Arabs, although this land until recently remained scarcely populated (small wonder - as Leo Taxil noted, there seem to be few territories as hostile to human habitation as the Promised Land). Although Palestine remained through centuries a dreamland for religious Jews and a special place even for secular Jews, during the 18th-19th century it seemed that most European Jews would be content to remain as minorities in the countries where they lived. However, at the end of the 19th century it became clear that a new powerful wave of anti-Semitism was on the rise (some authors say the landmark event was the Dreyfus Affair). An increasing number of Jews accepted the idea of a nation-state of their own in Palestine - the Zionism movement ( After Ottoman rule over Palestine was brought to an end by World War I, the Zionist idea of "a national home for Jews in that country" was accepted by the League of Nations. The British were given a mandate over Palestine in order to prepare the formation of an Arab state east of Jordan river (Transjordan, now Jordan) and a Jewish-majority state west of Jordan. The exact boundaries of this Jewish state were disputed "with conflicting and shifting British promises to Jewish and Arab interests" (, but the important thing was that Jewish families were allowed to settle and buy property west of Jordan.
As you can guess, nobody asked the locals what they thought of the idea. They surely had hoped for a self-rule after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and, knowing the strengh of (pan)Arab nationalism, I can quite believe Palestinians when they say to have opposed the idea of Israel right from the beginning. Most Israeli sources say that Jewish immigrants in fact benefited the local Arabs by creating jobs, which attracted also many Arabs from neighbouring lands to Palestine. I find no contradiction between these claims. Why not let somebody else build a factory or a farm and organize the production, then dispossess him and take the factory or farm for yourself? In fact, this is in essence what socialism is about.
Anyway, during the 1930s the Palestinians were surely seeing the writing on the wall. So they began to seek allies to help them get rid of the Jews. Of course, this brought them to Nazi Germany. "Within weeks of Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem got in touch with the German consul general in Jerusalem, Doctor Heinrich Wolff, and offered his services" (Bernard Lewis, The New Anti-Semitism,; this is a must-read article). I have myself seen a photo of German Army officers with their Arab allies in a World War II-dating newspaper. Nazi Germany was eventually defeated, but not before it managed not only to carry out the Holocaust but to infect the Arabs with the virus of the new anti-Semitism. Although the Koran demonizes the Jews, the Jewish minorities in Arab lands enjoyed considerable tolerance through the centuries, at least compared to the ruthless persecutions in Christianic Europe. According to Lewis, it was the Nazis who, after reviving the medieval Christian concept of the Jews as carriers of "cosmic, satanic evil", introduced it to the Arab world.
A characteristic and somewhat puzzling feature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the readiness of non-Palestinian Arabs to get involved into it. When in 1947 UN approved a partition plan separating Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, it was rejected not only by Palestinians but also by Arab states. (I wonder why they rejected it; you can see the map at - the territory given to Jews is quite meager.) After the rejection, Israel declared independence in 1948 and was attacked by Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Iraq and Lebanon. In this war, Jews received about as much support from the world as they had received during the Holocaust. Still, they won. The real losers were those Palestinians who became refugees. Some of them were expelled by the Israeli army or forced to flee after finding themselves too close to the battlefields; but the majority were lured to leave by the invading Arabs so that to allow unrestrained campaign against the Jews. The large Arab minority of today's Israel proves that Arabs haven't been victims of true ethnic cleansing. An additional proof came in 2006, when Hezbollah commander Nasrallah warned Arab residents of Haifa to leave the city. Rejecting the idea, one of their leaders said, "The Palestinian people are especially unwilling to be refugees of any kind again" ( However, while generally not expelling Arabs, Israel didn't allow the refugees to return. This shouldn't surprise anybody. By this time, it was clear that those Arabs who had fled, and too many even of those who had remained, were committed to the task of destroying Israel by armed struggle, terror and, let's say it, demographic stealing of the country from the Jewish majority by a birth rate typical for non-primate mammals. So it was a bingo for Israel that many of its Arabs escaped and I believe every Israeli statesman who would discuss their return should be sent to mental health counselling.
As I hinted above, the Palestinians were wronged by the creation of the Jewish state, facing the choice either to leave their historic land or to leave there as a minority. However, I think that sometimes justice isn't the most important thing and isn't even achievable for all sides. What is most important and achievable in all cases is life. I disapprove the fact that at the end of World War II millions of Europeans were forcibly expelled from their homes and driven to an exodus (the Germans from Sudetenland and East Prussia, the Bulgarians from Greece etc.) However, I tend to think that the victors, standing on the ruins of Europe, knew how to save the continent from an otherwise inevitable demise. They decided that it is better to do injustice to a minority by deporting it, rather than let it stay and be a potential casus belli in the future. Perhaps they were right.
However, soon after these mass deportations, in 1949, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibited any future actions of this kind. In particular, its Article 49 states, "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive." So, while European countries only years ago had conviniently deported populations regarded as security threat, Israel was not allowed to do so. In fact, as new states emerged in the post-colonial era, Article 49 was often violated. E.g. the number of Hindus forced to flee Pakistan is estimated by some to equal the entire Bulgarian population - 8 millions. But everybody turns a blind eye to such violations, unless Israel is doing them. The sense of collective guilt in Europeans after the Holocaust and the increasing power of Arab countries based on their oil reserves led to a special status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is regarded as different from, and more important than, any other conflict. Israel is scrutinized, its right to defend itself is denied, while Palestinians and their representatives are exonerated of whatever they do and meet no demands. This is indeed a "deadly and disgusting bias" - disgusting because it is deadly and deadly in the literal sense, because it has caused the death of thousands of Israelis, Palestinians and other human beings.
After losing the 1948 war, Arab countries expelled their Jewish minorities to Israel. While this wrong done to the Jews could not undo the wrong done to the Palestinians, it presented the opportunity to end the conflict in a relatively decent and respectful way for all parties involved. Let's sign a "population exchange" treaty, we take your unwanted Palestinian refugees, you take our unwanted Jews and everybody goes back to business. However, the Arabs didn't want it that way. While happy to get rid of the Jews, they refused to integrate the Palestinians and preferred to keep them in refugee camps for indefinite time as a weapon against Israel. I think this sad development is due to the famous Arab honour, more disastrous and lethal than any other honour known to me.
The United Nations Organization did what it could to make the matters worse (it is good at this, although hardly at anything else). Neglecting outrageous human rights abuses and outright genocides done by other countries, the UN produces one after another resolutions against Israel. In fact, Israel has a second-class status at the UN ( While refugees of other conflicts are cared for by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA), which helps them integrate and find new homes when return to the old homes is impossible or undesirable, for the Palestinian refugees a special agency was created - UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency). Even if the claims that it has become heavily infiltrated by terrorist organizations aren't true, it is true that this agency does nothing to help Palestinian refugees integrate anywhere. Some of them are already a third generation of refugees.
I'm not going to describe in detail how the conflict developed over the years. The Palestinians seem to have very perverted ideas of how newcomers to a country should behave. After Jordan accepted them, they tried to take the power, Jordan expelled them, Lebanon accepted them, they tried to take the power again and this destroyed the democracy and prosperity of the country. Arabs continued making wars with Israel and after one of them, in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Those pro-Palestinian forces that don't dare to call openly for destruction of Israel insist that it returns within its pre-1967 borders. However, these borders are from military point of view indefensible - a fact which deserves more publicity and explains Israel's reluctance to withdraw from these territories. When Israel does withdraw, however, as in the recent disengagement from Gaza, it is not rewarded with peace. The Palestinians always use whatever land Israel gives away to them as a base for more terror.
I don't know what the collective Palestinian psyche was like at the beginning of the conflict, but now it seems even more degraded than this of the Nazi Germans. The latter at least made their living themselves while Palestinians are fed by UNRWA, by Arab countries, by the EU, by USA, by everybody. Nobody seems to think that Palestinians should make a living and raise their children on what they earn, like all normal people. Remember the discussion after the Hamas election victory: "Should we stop feeding the Palestinians to punish them for electing Hamas, or we should go on feeding them whatever they do?" In fact, the aid may be discontinued if Palestinians STOP doing things like electing Hamas (or al-Fatah - there is hardly much difference). Arabs pay Palestinians so that they continue their "freedom fight" (read: to finish what Hitler begun), while Westerners give money on the premise that Palestinians would become even worse if not fed, similarly to a friend of mine who, although very poor, always had a bisquit for her landlord's dog so that to bribe it into not attacking her. So the situation with the Palestinians is best described by the expression "Killing for a living" (the title of Animal Planet series devoted to predation). If they embrace peace, starvation is likely to follow.
With time, the problem is getting only worse, because the number of Palestinian refugees is growing (and also the number of Gaza and West Bank residents who are also committed to "freedom fight"). The 1948 war produced several hundred thousands of Palestinian refugees, now they are estimated to be about 4 million. Part of this unsustainable population growth is the direct result of unearned incomes: when people make a living on what they produce, there is no premium on reproduction and the size of the family is naturally limited; aid, on the contrary, is distributed based on the number of family members, so encouraging the least productive to have more children.
There is also another, more sinister reason behind the large Palestinian families: children are regarded as a means to achieve the society's major goal - destroying Israel; and alas, it is not only about outnumbering the Jews. Let me cite Leilouta, who is a witness rather than an Israeli supporter: "One of my mom’s Palestinian friends was in her early thirties at that time. She had 6 kids. She told me she was planning on having a few more. I looked at her with a surprised look thinking that she already had her hands full. She noticed my surprise and told me that she and her friends wanted to have as many kids as they could so they could go fight for their land" ( Another piece of evidence is the second image shown above - the so-called "Baby bomber" (copied from, original source AP). This photo of a boy less than 2 years old dressed as a suicide bomber was found by Israeli troops searching a house in Hebron. The baby's grandfather said it was taken "just for fun". To me, it is scary. It means to tell the child, when he grows older, that Mom and Dad will be happy if he blows himself up among some Jewish pizza eaters.
Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? I don't see it. At any rate, it is not the idea of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. These two small pieces of land, separated from each other, couldn't produce an economically viable state even if populated by educated and skilled workers, not by people whose only area of expertise is terror. They would suffer economic hardship, would blame guess whom and resume their attacks. In fact, Gaza already is an experiment of Palestinian self-rule and shows its failure (e.g. read what it means to be ale-less in Gaza). Nor is there any reason to lump together West Bank and Gaza residents in one nation - what is common between them and separating them from other Arabs, except that their anti-Semitism is really at an extreme level?
My personal opinion is that Israel must decide what parts of the West Bank it wants to keep for security reasons, the rest of the West Bank must go to Jordan and Gaza - to Egypt. Other countries must also help by donating funds and taking some Palestinians. Personally, although there is no group of people whom I like less than the Palestinians (and this post shows it), I would welcome several hundred of them as immigrants in my city. During the last year cartoon crisis, when masked Palestinian gunmen were showing muscles in the quarters of European institutions feeding them, I was very angry and thought that if it depended on me, I wouldn't let a single Palestinian set foot on European soil. But meanwhile the emotions have cooled and my intolerance has dropped back to its background level. So I realize, again, that principles must sometimes be put above interests and that, if we want a just and lasting peace, everybody must make some sacrifice or at least contribution.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Typical news from Bulgaria, the newest EU member state

The text below is translated from Netinfo (, go there to see the photo of the murdered man). I won't comment, this is hardly needed. The town of Nesebar is a well-known Black Sea resort.

Dimitar Yankov, Chairman of the Nesebar Municipality Council, shot dead with 7 bullets
Tonight (May 10 - M.M.) at about 10 PM in the town of Burgas, the Chairman of the Municipality Council in Nesebar Dimitar Yankov was killed. He had intended to be nominated as a candidate mayor of the resort town at the local elections this autumn. He was found in his Porsche sport utility vehicle shot dead with seven bullets... The weapon, a Baykal handgun, was found in a nearby garbage bin...
Yankov was thought to be protecting the detained Nesebar drug-dealing boss Dimitar Zhelyazkov, nicknamed Mityo The Eyes. He was also a friend of the VIS group boss Georgi Iliev who was shot dead 2 years ago (the VIS group was active in organized crime - M.M.)...
The municipality council chairman was among the main suspects for the attempted murders of the former Mayor of Nesebar and the businessman Veselin Toshev, shot with six bullets... When in 1997 Yankov was said to have ordered the attempt to assassinate Zhivko Georgiev, Mayor at that time, he was arrested for a week and released on bail. After that, Petko Krumov, nicknamed The Cambodian, who had testified against Yankov, died in a fire while being protected by the police...
Yankov was among the richest hotel owners in Slanchev Bryag (a resort more important than Nesebar - M.M.)...
In a declaration, the members of the Municipality Council called the murder "not only a human tragedy but also an act against the foundations of democracy, the government and the local rule"... The Municipality of Nesebar announced a three-day mourning.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The HIV trial in Libya, part 6 (last): Why most Libyans believed the official story

This image, which I copied from AngloLibyan's blog, seems to be very popular in Libya. At, Highlander shows it being used by demonstrating HIV-infected Libyan children. The author and copyright status of the image are unknown to me. I'll be grateful to any reader who informs me about these details, so that I could give credit and ask for permission. UPDATE: The author is Mohammed Izwawa (thanks to Suliman who informed me, see his comment to this post; the name seems to be spelled also Ezwawi). I cannot find Mr. Izwawa's e-mail; if he is reading this and disagrees with his work being shown here, he can post a comment or e-mail me (mayamarkov at gmail dot com) and I'll remove it.

This amateur psychological "study" is the last part of my sequel about the trial in Libya; the previous parts are, respectively, at,,, and
This part was the most difficult for me to write. Remember Diogenes who took a lantern to search for The Human? Anyone who tries to explore the hidden spaces of human mind needs a lantern, for he is likely to find little light where he is going. Moreover, because I am not a Libyan and my people differs from the Libyans in many respects, the intended recipients of my message will most probably dismiss it as mere bigotry. I have even considered omitting this part and letting Libyans, one day after they set aside their more serious problems, to search their souls themselves. However, such a bright future seems unlikely to come, so I'll end my sequel as planned. I won't try to make this post concise - let it be as long as it gets.
Why do most Libyans agree with the official version that the AIDS epidemic in Benghazi was caused intentionally? I think some really believe it while others only claim to believe. So we have two groups to consider.
1) Libyans sincerely believing in intentional infection
The official story that the infection was deliberately spread, especially in its original CIA-Mossad version, seemed so absurd to me that I wondered how could any sane adult believe in it. Even a 12-yr old, I thought, would laugh and say this is a good idea for a video game. However, we must remember what Einstein said, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Recently, one of my relations said to me she believed cures for AIDS, plus all types of cancer, were discovered but drug companies were hiding them in order to sell their current expensive and inefficient products. At the same time, a popular TV host (Milen Tsvetkov, for Bulgarian readers) was launching a hysterical campaign against immunizations because of the rare but severe complications of some vaccines (I wish him to see the video at So stupidity is by no means a Libyan patent. However, in a normal society different views are freely expressed and so you have many different types of stupidity, instead of one dominating. The situation is different in a dictatorship, where you are brainwashed round the clock by the official propaganda and have very limited access to alternative information sources. Of course nobody knows better that the Libyans that the TV speaker's "Good evening" is the only part of the news likely to be true, but humans cannot live in informational vacuum, so most of them finally succumb to propaganda. In this context, it is noteworthy that Qaddafi's version isn't very popular among Libyan expatriates who live in normal informational environment. To cite some examples, Hannu, Suliman, 7mada and Smokey Spice reject it.
Let me give a small sample of official Libyan propaganda. As Suliman mentioned in a comment to my earlier post, Libyan sources, without giving the full text of Dr. Montagnier's in-court testimony, claim that it "was damning to the case of the accused" ( (This reminds me of the joke about Napoleon who said in his afterlife, "Soviet propaganda is a great thing. If I had it, nobody would ever know I had lost the Waterloo battle.") An even more fruitful approach is using the infected children and their families. Remembering how useful was for the anti-Vietnam war propaganda the image of a single napalm-burned child, you can figure out what can be done with more than 400 young victims. An example can be found at The mother of an infected boy claims that "Sanjaka the Bulgarian old nurse" (presumably Snezhana Dimitrova) has given him an unauthorized shot: "I saw with my own eyes Sanjaka injecting a syringe in to my son's drip, when the nurse noticed that I was looking she got scared and quickly hid the syringe, I asked her what was that medicine for and told her that he is not supposed to have any medications at this time... Yes I saw her inject my son with my own eyes." I'll duscuss later the families' claims and their reflection on other Libyans, let me now just mention that if the story is true, this woman should be telling it not in a newspaper but in the court. As should be expected if the defendants are picked randomly, the evidence linking them to the infected children is very thin. It is in fact so thin that a mother who could testify to have actually seen nurse Valya Chervenyashka inject her child was a key witness and it was a blow for the prosecution when she died of AIDS. (It is another question that only in the twisted reality of totalitarian Libya a nurse in a children's hospital can be charged with giving shots to children - what actually was she expected to do to earn her salary?)
Another reason for Libyans to believe in intentional infection is that they regard the Benghazi epidemic as a world precedent. It seems that the intra-hospital infections in other countries and the importance of unsafe transfusions and injections for spreading the disease are still unknown to most Libyans. Indeed it is in human nature, when something awful happens to us, to think we are the first and only ones in the world hit by it (and realizing that thousands or millions other people have suffered the same is an important part of recovery). But in this case, the propaganda also helps. See e.g. At the top of a continent devastated by AIDS for decades, Libyans are being told that theirs is "a real tragedy that the world never experienced before", "no crime ever committed was as horrible as this crime that was committed against our children", "there is no crime worse than this crime". And once you believe that the Libyan epidemic is unique, you will require a unique explanation. Only if you are outside Libya, the question "how bad is this case in comparison to the AIDS disaster in Africa as a whole" may come to your head (Suliman's comment to the same post).
I think that, despite my conviction that unwanted behaviour mustn't be excused in order not to be encouraged, I have almost excused the Libyans for believing the unbelievable. However, a seemingly small but very important detail remains: the personalities of the accused. One day, when the Q-man's rule will be just a painful past, the Libyans will have to deal with the question, "Why did our dictator choose exactly this story to sell to us? He implicated CIA because he knew we hated America; logically, the Americans had bombed us. He implicated Mossad because he knew we were anti-Semites; well, almost everybody was at that time. But why did he choose as scapegoats foreigners, mostly white, mostly women? Did he think we were sexists, racists and xenophobes? And was he right, after we believed him so easily?"
I think it isn't a coincidence that of the seven accused medics, five are women and the only one acquitted is one of the two men (Dr. Zdravko Georgiev). Witchhunts in Europe also targeted mainly women. It seems that cultures repressing sexuality tend to see something satanic in women. This applies not only to young attractive women but also to others who aren't much of a temptation, so this phenomenon is puzzling to me. Possibly someone else could try to clarify it.
The impact of racism and xenophobia is easier to explain. They had been inherent to human even before he evolved into human proper and although restrained today, they are still here and raise their ugly heads every time when something bad happens. Earlier this year, Atanas Predov, a Bulgarian guest worker in Spain, died of methanol intoxication. His relations didn't believe this to be the cause and requested an autopsy which revealed that both kidneys were missing. It was concluded they had been taken for illegal transplantation and this had caused the man's death (source e.g. in Bulgarian, in English). Significantly, no one of the Bulgarian comments I've seen questions the idea that Spanish doctors kidnap Bulgarians from the street and kill them by removing their kidneys for transplantation. In the early 1990s, many Bulgarians objected foreign adoptions out of fear that the children would be used as organ donors. A Bulgarian journalist, mentioning that such fears are popular in many countries despite the absence of proven cases, described this is a modern technological version of an immortal myth - that our children are kidnapped or killed by foreigners. Indeed, the parents of at least two missing Bulgarian children believe, without any serious reason, that the children have been kidnapped and taken abroad (you can read about one of the victims at
Taking the above into account, imagine how bad could the situation be in Libya, where the Others are all the time demonized by the official religion. Indeed, one of the reasons why I hate Islam is that it uses, and enhances in order to use, every single built-in defect of human nature. To help the demonization, Libyan prosecutors have accused the Bulgarians also in illicit sexual relationships, distilling alcohol, drinking alcohol in public and illegally transacting in foreign currency. To the Western mind, it seems absurd that additional minor charges are allowed to obscure such a grave case. However, within the if-it-moves-forbid-it Koranic philosophy these charges are not minor. As an anonymous commentor explained at, a woman wishing to have sex with a man other than her husband is not a human sinner but a monster able to do a first-degree child murder or any other outrage without even hesitating. The currency transaction seems to imply a violation of the Koranic ban on interest and prove that the accused are extremely greedy people able to do everything for money.
The belief of so many Libyans that the accused medics deliberately infected their patients does more than moving the anger away from Qaddafi's health care establishment. It affects the collective Libyan psyche. Without this belief, the siblings and classmates of the infected children would vow to become AIDS researchers and find a cure; instead, now parents are vowing to join al-Qaeda and seek revenge. Such pledges reveal what is going on in people's heads and for that reason, although very unlikely to be fulfilled, may help us predict the future.
2) Libyans trying/pretending to believe
While many Libyans sincerely believe the official story about the Benghazi epidemic, many others just try to convince others, and usually also themselves, that they believe it. Of course, trying to accept something you don't really think means personality split. I've mentioned that not only patients with schizophrenia but also most of the so-called normal people are a combination of two or more incompatible personalities. You don't agree? Haven't you asked yourself why you so often cannot predict how a well-known person will behave in a certain situation? This is because, even if you have been around him for 20 years, you have no way to know which of his personalities you'll be dealing with. But let's return to the question why Libyans claim and try to believe in intentional infection.
Compassion is a burden for the soul. Therefore, if a person is suffering and we cannot (easily) help him, we tend to brush compassion off by convincing ourselves that he brought it upon himself. In other words, we are inclined to blame the victim. E.g. when some years ago in my city a 16-yr old girl was shot dead by a policeman as she was leaving a bar with her boyfriend, a surprising number of people reacted by saying that good girls don't go to bars. In the Libyan HIV case, I am sure that if the infected patients were adults, much more time would pass before linking them to the hospital. Everybody would think they had contracted the disease by illegal sex or drug use. But because children are infected, and infected not by HIV-positive promiscuous mothers but by medical procedures, the Libyan society has to feel compassion for the children and their families. This is already a burden. It would be too much of a burden to pity, apart from the children, also a bunch of tortured and gravely accused foreigners. So people feel better to think that the defendants are guilty. And logically, the more abuse and undue imprisonment the medics are forced to endure, the stronger will be the psychological need of ordinary Libyans to consider them guilty.
In fact, subjects of a dictatorship tend to blame every victim of the regime. When the Communist rule in Bulgaria was dismantled in 1989 and we first enjoyed freedom of speech, I was surprised to see how many Bulgarians believed in the guilt of political prisoners. (In fact, there had never been a strong anti-Communist opposition in Bulgaria and most "political prisoners" were jailed for offences such as wearing a wrong kind of clothes, speaking Western languages, listening to the BBC, telling quite innocent jokes about the regime and the dictator, or for nothing at all.) My friend explained this widespread opinion. She said, "People just feel compelled, after not entreating for the prisoners, to believe in their guilt." I replied, "But who would dare to entreat? We had justified fears for our own safety!" My friend said, "Few can think like you, because people hate regarding themselves as cowards." I call this phenomenon "survivor syndrome". It surely helps people to live under a dictator without feeling depressed all the time, but slows recovery after the dictator is toppled. The survivor syndrome means that the more atrocities a dictator does, the stronger will be the motivation for his (surviving) people to whitewash him and blame his victims. We are observing this very clearly in Iraq.
There is also another, more noble reason for Libyans to convince themselves in the medics' guilt. This is the sense of solidarity with the parents of the infected children and the wish to believe everything they say. Let me discuss this important issue in more detail. The initial article in the La magazine cited a number of parents who accused the hospital staff in rudeness and incompetence but expressed no suspicion of malicious intent, neither pointed to medics of a particular nationality. Of course the parents, most of whom had accompanied their children at the hospital, shouldn't believe very easily in the official version. E.g. some of them are likely to know that their children haven't been treated by any of the accused medics (the defense team revealed that such infected children exist by simply comparing the dates when the patients were treated at the hospital and the dates when the defendants were on duty). However, at a later stage the parents very actively supported the version of intentional infection and called for death penalty and huge compensations. Of course some of them, desperately needing somebody(anybody) to blame for their tragedy, found relief in seeking revenge against the accused, while others, even if not quite believing, would want the Bulgarians sentenced in order to receive compensations from Bulgaria (or its Western allies). These parents have every reason to think that Qaddafi will not agree to give money for their children and they have more chance to get the sums needed for treatment from a foreign source. They cannot think too much of justice and abstract truth and so on, the need of their infected child comes first.
After a court session last August when none of the defense witnesses appeared (I've blogged about this at, Idris Laga, father of an infected child and chairman of an association of parents of the infected children, was delighted about the witnesses' absence and said it proved the prosecution thesis was correct. A more sophisticated person would express regret that the witnesses hadn't appeared to say their phony testimony and have it disproved, but we must be glad that Mr. Laga said what he said, because his words show us something important: the parents of the infected children aren't interested in fair trial and disclosing the truth, on the contrary, they will make every effort to obscure it. After de Oliveira et al. published their article in Nature claiming that the epidemic started before the defendants arrived to the hospital, Mr. Laga stated that the scientists "were not authorized by the kids' legal guardians to obtain samples" (Suliman's comment at With other words, we won't allow blood samples to be taken from our children because their analysis could prove somebody not guilty and so make his execution more difficult!
The cynic would also mention that the guardians (most likely the parents) seem too well informed about their rights for people fresh out of a dictatorship, so hasn't anybody instructed them? Indeed, in the above lines, I portrayed the parents as free people acting on their own free will, which is hardly justified. Remember the mother who allegedly saw nurse "Sanjaka" inject her boy ( Let me cite the comment of Libyan-American Hannu, mother of four: "I am very skeptical of the story and the extent of truth in it. First, the fact that it was published in a Libyan newspaper takes away from its credibility. I got to the part "... when I saw with my own eyes Sanjaka injecting a syringe in to my son's drip..." and that's where I realized the Libyan propaganda behind the story... It is a fact that some of those families are being coaxed by the Libyan authorities to lie and distort things in exchange of false never-fulfilled promises. Who's to blame them!" Mickey Grant, who made a video about the case, has first-hand information that the families are indeed coaxed: "No journalist I know of has ever been allowed to do real interviews with the families of the children. I went to Rome where many of the children were being treated for that purpose and I found that the only way the families could participate in an interview was if a Libyan Agent was present and they were too scared to do that." (; there you can see the video, too).
Some Libyans may think that while it is unfortunate that innocent people have been abused by the Libyan state the way they were, it is a good thing to force the West to pay for the children's treatment (especially after the Libyan government seems reluctant to pay). Indeed, demanding ransom after taking hostages is a much more reliable way to obtain money than appealing to people's humane feelings. However, what might benefit the families (because, while much of the money will surely go astray, some will serve its purpose) is a long-term PR disaster for Libya. I don't think that in our globalizing world somebody can afford not to care what others think of him. "How many Arabs does it take to change a light bulb? None. Arabs just sit in the dark and blame it on the Jews. Same thing with the HIV infection, but this time they blame foreign medics." This is the best of several samples of the "war declared on Libyans on the Internet", cited by AngloLibyan ( What should be more worrying for Libyans than these Web insults (apparently work of Bulgarian teenagers) is what adults are thinking, typically without saying it in public. The whole affair reinforced one of the worst steretypes about Arab Muslims - that they contact Westerners mainly in order to extort money from them at any cost. I advise Libyans always to stick to the claim that the demand to Bulgaria/West to pay for the children's treatment is solely Q-man's policy never approved by the majority of Libyans. Without true opinion polls, nobody can ever prove the opposite. Those who make voluntary fund-raising campaigns for the children should never imply that the West has any responsibility for the children's plight, either by conspiracy to infect them or by sanctions. Instead, a point should be made that these children are innocent victims of Qaddafi's health care system which, after allowing them to be infected in the first place, now refuses them adequate treatment, although Libya has enough money to afford it (esp. after lifting the sanctions).
And last, after discussing the most noble reason for Libyans to claim to believe Qaddafi's story, let me mention the least noble one: Islamism, i.e. taking to heart the Koran's demand to force Islam down the throats of non-Muslims. While Islam makes a person prone to sincerely believing bad things about the Others, Islamism includes deliberate lying in an effort to denigrate the enemies and so obscure their evident moral superiority. After the Islamists blame the West for their own crimes (Sept. 11) and for natural disasters (the tsunami), how could they resist to blame it for a man-made AIDS epidemic? Among the Libyan diaspora, I've observed almost 100% correlation between expressing firm belief in the medics' guilt and being Islamist (I prefer not to give links, because the aim of this post is not to attack my opponents personally). Within Libya, Islamism doesn't seem very popular... with one important exception: the city of Benghazi.
As I mentioned before in Part 2, strong feelings against the Qaddafi's regime existed in Benghazi even before the epidemic and were reinforced by it. However, the Q-man handled the crisis in a way I reluctantly admire. Knowing well the Islamists' minds, he knew that they were hating him but were hating much more the white infidels, especially the women (similarly to the Iraqi Islamists who, while disliking Saddam, love to hate America and its supporters). All he needed to do was to divert the anger and hate to appropriate objects. After that, interviewed ordinary Benghazeeans praised the Leader for helping the infected children receive justice and not caving in under Western pressure. Of course they couldn't say in front of the camera that they hate Qaddafi, but I had the feeling that the praise was at least 70% sincere.
This is why I am angry at the Benghazi residents. Unwilling or unable to use properly their brains because of heavy Islamist prejudice, they wasted their courage in vain and achieved less than nothing. Instead of being real danger or at least a thorn in the ass for Qaddafi, they became useful pawns in his game. When criticized by Westerners, he can always point at them and say, "You may dislike me but do you see the alternative? People ready to torch buildings because of a cartoon, people whose most cherished dream is to resurrect the 7th century." In the case of the AIDS outbreak, Qaddafi is responsible (though indirectly) but he manipulated the Benghazeeans so successfully that now he is more popular among them than before! Like an Iraqi who admires Saddam despite having a brother killed by the regime (linked and discussed by Sandmonkey at, Benghazi residents now admire the true murderer of their children. Indeed, Qaddafi gained so much from the whole affair that some Libyan expatriates, following the "Who benefits from this?" logic useful in disclosing many crimes, suspect that he caused the Benghazi epidemic intentionally, with or without the accused medics' participation!
I wouldn't want to end this post with such a bleak picture, but so be it, for even the worst truth is better than false hopes. In conclusion, I'd advise Libyans, when going to a hospital for intravenous injections, to ask what syringes and needles they'll need and buy them beforehand. And of course also to use condoms when making unauthorized love.