Archive for November, 2013

Bulgarian Ruling Partners Ink Party Subsidies Cuts

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The ruling partners, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) have managed to iron out their differences regarding subsidies for political parties.

They have reached an agreement to reduce the subsidies by 10% in 2014, until the May elections for European Parliament, when another update will be made.

The decision was made Saturday in the winter resort of Borovets, where Bulgaria’s PM Plamen Oresharski, all cabinet ministers, and MPs from both parties are attending a retreat.

The cut has been confirmed to the media by lawmakers from BSP and DPS.

The proposal was logged by the Socialists, while the liberal, predominantly ethnic Turkish DPS initially opposed it.

The retreat is making an account of the work of the government in the last six months and is listing priorities for next year.

Among the key topics that are being discussed are the increased refugee influx in Bulgaria, youth unemployment, and the energy sector.

DPS MP, Yordan Tsonev, informed the government has already approved a 20% tax on the energy produced by Water Power Plants (WPP). He said the move will alleviate the burden on “green energy,” and will prevent a hike of electric power prices.

Source

Ukraine President’s Chief of Staff Surprisingly Resigns

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Serhiy Lyovochkin, Head Secretary of the Administration of Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, has resigned in somewhat of a surprising move.

The news was reported by the Ukrainian “Obozrevatel” and the English language “Kyiv Post.”

The grounds for Lyovochkin’s decision remain unknown, but there are many speculations it has been prompted by the violent crushing of the pro-EU rally in Kiev by riot police Friday into Saturday.

Thousands of citizens and university students have staged rallies in the Ukrainian capital against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the association agreement with the EU.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal over a week ago, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

The signing of the association agreement was set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

On Friday – as Yanukovych attended the EU summit – about 10 000 demonstrators took to Independence Square, carrying Ukrainian and EU flags and chanting “Ukraine is Europe”.

Around 4:30 am, Berkut, the special units of the Ukrainian police, dispersed the remaining demonstrators with batons and teargas and pushed them out of the central Maiadan square.

40 were listed in the hospital and 33 were arrested, but have already been released.

About 200 demonstrators, among them popular singer Ruslana and 5 opposition MPs, have barricaded themselves in the St Michael’s (Mihailovska) cathedral on Mihailovska Square.

“Kyiv Post” reports that Lyovochkin’s wife, Zinaida Ligacheva, has been actively supporting the EU integration of Ukraine and has come out on Maidan Square to join the rallies.

Again, according to “Kyiv Post,” Inter TV channel, co-owned by Lyovochkin, has been covering extensively pro-European demonstrations on Maidan, which has prompted Mykhailo Pogrebynskiy, a political consultant working with the government, to urge the president to dismiss his Chief of Staff.

Source

‘Luxury’ Tram Cars to Serve Bulgarian Capital in Jan

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Brand new tram cars will be used by public transportation in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in January.

The first luxury railcar has already arrived. Three more trams, made in Poland, will be delivered by the end of December.

“This is the first brand new tram in many years. We have bought “secondhand” trams, but not new ones, because they are very expensive. A new tram costs EUR 1.66 M,” said Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, cited by bTV.

The tramcars meet all modern European standards and are energy efficient. They also have low-floors and platforms, which will facilitate mothers with strollers and people in wheelchairs.

The new trams will serve passengers on Line 7. Their purchase was financed by the Operational Program “Environment.” The deadline for the delivery of all twenty railcars is the end of May 2014.

Source

Police in Sofia on Lookout for 5 Armed Robbers

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Police in the Bulgarian capital Sofia are on the lookout for five men, who staged a brazen armed robbery in the warehouse of a pharmaceutical company Friday evening.

According to initial police information, the men, wearing masks, have managed to take at gunpoint a substantial amount of money, between BGN 50 000 and BGN 85 000, as different local media have reported different amounts. They drove away in a black SUV. At least one of them had a machine gun.

The warehouse is located in a southern district near the intersection of Simeonovsko Shosse and the Sofia beltway. No one has been injured

The owner company, Libra AG, which is an affiliate of a large German holding, said that it does not know yet exactly what was stolen.

A police investigation is underway.

Source

Central Kiev Cathedral Barricaded by Pro-EU Protesters

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Pro-EU protesters in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, beaten and dispersed by riot police overnight, have barricaded themselves in the St Michael’s (Mihailovska) cathedral on Mihailovska Square.

The news was reported Saturday by the online edition of the newspaper “Segodniya” (Today). 200 people are currently in the cathedral. Popular pop singer Ruslana and five opposition MPs are among them.

The demonstrators have barricaded the doors of the temple to prevent Berkut, the special units of the Ukrainian police, from bursting in. Riot police have piled buses and trucks in the area.

According to the correspondent of “Segodniya,” many of the demonstrators have injuries, bleeding heads, and have been, obviously, subjected to violence. Doctors have arrived in the cathedral to provide help and treatment to the injured.

Special police forces proceeded Friday evening to forcefully push out of the central square thousands of pro-EU protesters.

This was the seventh night in a row when thousands of citizens and university students staged rallies in the Ukrainian capital against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the association agreement with the EU.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal over a week ago, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

The signing of the association agreement was set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

On Friday – as Yanukovych attended the EU summit – about 10 000 demonstrators took to Independence Square, carrying Ukrainian and EU flags and chanting “Ukraine is Europe”.

There was also a smaller rally of Yanukovich supporters a few hundred meters away.

In Vilnius, EU leaders warned they would not tolerate Russian interference in the bloc’s relations with former Soviet republics.

The summit reached provisional accords with Georgia and Moldova.

Source

Majority of Bulgarians Approve Govt’s Social Measures

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Bulgarians massively approve the social expenses and measures of the State and consider them useful for the country.

The data comes from a representative poll of the adult population of the country, titled “Attitudes and Expectations of the Public for Budget 2014,” conducted by “Gallup International” between November 1 and 15. The study has been commissioned by the Ministry of Finance.

Three fourths of the respondents have said they have heard of debates on State budget 2014 and know this is a very important issue. Two thirds admit they are not following the matter, while one fourth follows it with very strong interest.

The most approved measure to reduce State cost is the downsizing of the State administration.

There are no significant opinion differences among followers of different political parties and different groups in society. One of the key conclusions of polling experts is that there is a trend of even people with higher income and education being now inclined to support social assistance measures.

Gallup further concludes that the Socialist-endorsed government, according to the poll’s results, has managed to successfully communicate social messages, which is important for building a positive public image. They, however, stress the Cabinet must apply more effort in explaining overall business policies.

Source

European Study: Bulgarian Healthcare Is in ‘Dire Straights’

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Bulgaria’s healthcare is four spots (30th) before the last one in Europe in the 2013 ranking of the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI).

Bulgaria has collected 528 points out of the maximum 1 000, but has moved up from its 33rd position in 2012, when it had 456 points.

After Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Romania and Serbia are at the bottom of the ranking.

Dr Arne Bjornberg, Chairman of the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP) and author of the report, says the Bulgarian healthcare system reflects the overall grim reality in the country, explaining that there was some positive development regarding access to treatment and reduced waiting time, but medical results have worsened even further.

He further stresses the situation in Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia is alarming.

The Index champion is again the Netherlands, gaining 870 points. The Dutch are followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway.

The financial crisis has led to increasing inequity in healthcare services across Europe, is one of the key findings of the 2013 EHCI, presented in Brussels by the Health Consumer Powerhouse.

The results show that there is now a ‘two speed’ delivery of healthcare, depending on the consumers’ country. The quality of care that consumers can expect is discernibly higher in richer countries than in poorer. In addition, the gap is widening.

Bjornberg also said: “Healthcare decision makers are concerned by the impact of the economic crisis. Today’s report demonstrates they are right to have these concerns. Our 2013 ranking indicates that wealthier countries are clustered towards the top of the Index, and this is more marked than in previous years.”

For the first time since EHCI was launched in 2005, there is now a clear gap in healthcare provision between the affluent, financially strong parts of Europe and the less affluent, crisis-struck countries.

Although treatment results such as cancer and infant survival keep improving all over Europe, there are almost no medium-income countries in the top half of the Index in 2013.

The Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) 2013 is the seventh study made on European healthcare systems. The Index takes a consumer and patient perspective. EHCI, like the 16 other Health Consumer Powerhouse Indexes, offers reality checks for policy makers, empowerment to patients and consumers and an opportunity for stakeholders to highlight weak and strong aspects of healthcare.

The study ranks 34 national European health care systems on 42 indicators, covering five areas that are key to the health consumer: Patients’ rights and information, Accessibility of treatment (waiting times), Medical outcomes, Range and reach of services provided and Pharmaceuticals.

The Index is compiled from a combination of public statistics, patient polls and independent research conducted by HCP.

Source

40 in Hospital after Clashes with Riot Police in Kiev

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Forty pro-EU demonstrators have been listed in the hospital overnight after clashes with riot police.

The information comes from eyewitnesses, quoted by the Ukrainian TV Channel 5 and the Bulgarian Focus Agency.

Special police forces proceeded Friday evening to forcefully push out of the central square thousands of pro-EU protesters.

“The square was cleared savagely. Dozens are hurt and dozens are in custody. This is unprecedented. Ukraine has never seen such thing,” said Opposition MP Andriy Shevchenko.

This was the seventh night in a row when thousands of citizens and university students staged rallies in the Ukrainian capital against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the association agreement with the EU.

The BBC correspondent in Kiev reports that by morning no protesters remained on the square.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal over a week ago, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

The signing of the association agreement was set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

On Friday – as Yanukovych attended the EU summit – about 10 000 demonstrators took to Independence Square, carrying Ukrainian and EU flags and chanting “Ukraine is Europe”.

There was also a smaller rally of Yanukovich supporters a few hundred meters away.

In Vilnius, EU leaders warned they would not tolerate Russian interference in the bloc’s relations with former Soviet republics.

The summit reached provisional accords with Georgia and Moldova.

Source

Pro-EU Protesters in Kiev Violently Dispersed by Police

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Riot police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev have forcefully pushed out of the central square overnight hundreds of pro-EU protesters.

The BBC cites witnesses saying they were dispersed with police acting violently, beating demonstrators with batons and using teargas.

This was the seventh night in a row when thousands of citizens and university students staged rallies in the Ukrainian capital against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the association agreement with the EU.

Participants in the Friday night rally have said a number of people had been hurt. Ambulances were on the scene and some demonstrators were seen bleeding from their heads and arms.

“It was horrible. We were holding a peaceful demonstration and they attacked us. They threw us away like garbage,” one protester is quoted in saying.

Opposition MP Andriy Shevchenko, tweeted that dozens of people had been hurt and at least 33 had been arrested.

According to Reuters news agency, one of its cameramen and a photographer were among the injured and the photographer was left bloodied by blows to the head.

Ukrainian media cite the police saying they had decided to clear Independence Square after “a number of incidents,” but it remains unclear what incidents they were referring to.

The BBC correspondent in Kiev reports that by morning no protesters remained on the square.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal over a week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

In addition to Kiev, where clashes between demonstrators and riot police occurred on a number of occasions, rallies have been reported in the Black sea city of Odessa, in Lvov and other cities.

Outraged Ukrainians say they do not want their country to become Russian province again, and pledge to not give up the rallies until they receive assurances about the European future of their country.

The Ukrainian opposition, led by former heavyweight boxing champion, Vitali Klitschko, who chairs the opposition Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party (UDAR – Smash), has urged pro-EU protesters to not give up.

The other opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in prison, announced she was beginning an indefinite hunger strike.

The signing of the association agreement was set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

On Friday – as Yanukovych attended the EU summit – about 10 000 demonstrators took to Independence Square, carrying Ukrainian and EU flags and chanting “Ukraine is Europe”.

There was also a smaller rally of Yanukovich supporters a few hundred meters away.

In Vilnius, EU leaders warned they would not tolerate Russian interference in the bloc’s relations with former Soviet republics.

The summit reached provisional accords with Georgia and Moldova.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, reiterated that the door to the EU is still open for Ukraine and the association agreement was on the table.

Source

Brazil holds off changes to fuel subsidies

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Fuel price increases should help limit losses but investors had been hoping for more after the company had promised greater transparency on subsidies

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