Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2014, 13:39 GMT

UK Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate Country Assessment - Bulgaria

Publisher United Kingdom: Home Office
Author Country Information and Policy Unit, Asylum and Appeals Policy Directorate, Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Publication Date 1 March 1999
Cite as United Kingdom: Home Office, UK Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate Country Assessment - Bulgaria, 1 March 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a69e8.html [accessed 27 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

I.         INTRODUCTION

1.1          This assessment has been produced by the Asylum Directorate of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office from information obtained from a variety of sources.

1.2          The information has been prepared for background purposes for those involved in the asylum determination process. The information contained is not exhaustive, nor does it catalogue all human rights violations. It concentrates on the issues most commonly raised in asylum claims made in the United Kingdom. It represents the current assessment by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the general socio-political and human rights situation in the country.

1.3          The assessment is sourced throughout. It is intended to be used by caseworkers as a signpost to the source material, which has been made available to them. The vast majority of the source material is readily available in the public domain.

1.4          It is intended to revise the assessment on a 6-monthly basis while the country remains in within the top 35 asylum producing countries in the United Kingdom.

1.5          The assessment will be placed on the Internet. An electronic copy of the assessment has been made available to the following organisations:

Amnesty International UK

Immigration Advisory Service

Immigration Appellate Authority

Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

JUSTICE

Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

Refugee Council

Refugee Legal Centre

UN High Commissioner for Refugees

II.        GEOGRAPHY

2.1          The Republic of Bulgaria (formerly known as The People's Republic of Bulgaria between 1947 and 1990) lies in the eastern Balkans, in south-eastern Europe. It is bounded by Romania to the north, by Turkey and Greece to the south, by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the west and by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the south-west. Bulgaria also has an eastern coastline on the Black Sea.[1]

2.2          Bulgaria is mainly mountainous, particularly to the west, but fertile plains and valleys lie between the mountain ranges, as a result Bulgaria's farms yield abundant crops and livestock. The landscape is shaped by the Balkan Mountains which climb up to 7,795 feet at the Botev Peak, almost exactly in the middle of the country and running for 365 miles. They effectively cut the country in two. The northern half, the Danubian Plateau, experiences a continental climate with cold winters, but warm and humid summers. The southern half, the Transitional Mountains and Lowlands, however, receives instead a more varied climate with cold winters and hot summers. [12]

2.3          The official language is Bulgarian, a member of the Slavonic group, written in the Cyrillic alphabet (see also Ethnic Macedonians, paragraph 5.63). The majority of the population are Christians, most of whom adhere to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, whilst there is a substantial minority of Muslims. The national flag has three equal horizontal stripes, of white, green and red. The capital is Sofia.[1]

III.       HISTORY

A.          Recent Political History:

3.1          After almost 500 years of (Turkish) Ottoman rule, Bulgaria declared itself an independent kingdom in 1908. During both the First and Second World Wars it allied with Germany and joined in the occupation of (former) Yugoslavia in 1941. In 1944 Soviet troops occupied Bulgaria and in September of that year the Fatherland Front (a left-wing alliance) seized power with the assistance of the USSR. The party installed a government headed by Kimon Georgiev. In September 1946 the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum and a republic was proclaimed.

3.2          The first post-war election was held in October 1946, and the Fatherland Front won the majority of seats (364) in the 465-member National Assembly. In November 1946 Georgi Dimitrov, the First Secretary of the BCP became Chairman of the Council of Ministers in a government that comprised members of the Fatherland Front. All opposition parties were abolished and a new Constitution, based on the Soviet Model, was adopted in December 1947, when Bulgaria became a People's Republic. Political trials and executions became less frequent after the death of the Soviet leader, Iosif (Joseph) Stalin, in 1953 and the rehabilitation of those who had been disgraced began in 1956. [1]

3.3          Following an ideological struggle within the BCP (Bulgarian Communist Party), Todor Zhivkov became Prime Minister in November 1962. In May 1971 another new Constitution was adopted and Zhivkov relinquished his position as Prime Minister to become the first President of the newly-formed State Council. He was re-elected in 1976, 1981 and 1986. In September 1978 a purge of BCP members commenced. At the twelfth BCP Congress, held in March and April 1981, the party's leader was restyled General Secretary. [1]

3.4          In June, following elections to the National Assembly, a new government was formed, headed by Grisha Filipov, a member of the BCP's Political Bureau. In March 1986 Filipov was replaced in this post by Georgi Atanasov, a former Vice-President of the State Council. [1]

3.5          During elections, held in March 1988, the nomination of candidates other than those endorsed by the BCP was permitted for the first time. Candidates representing independent public organisations and workers' collectives obtained about one-quarter of the votes cast. However, much of the Soviet inspired reform programme (preustroistvo or perestroika) was not implemented and in July 1988 several prominent supporters of reform were dismissed from office. [1]

3.6          In the late 1980s there was a great upsurge in public political activity, and a number of opposition groups began to emerge. In October 1989 several unofficial groups staged anti-government demonstrations coinciding with the convening of an international forum in Sofia. Later in that month, about 20 members of an unofficial environmentalist group, the Ecoglasnost National Movement, were attacked and arrested by security forces while preparing to collect signatures for a petition regarding environmental issues (all were released later). The authorities subsequently expressed regret over the incident and admitted that the security forces had acted with undue violence. [1]

3.7          On 10 November 1989 Zhivkov was unexpectedly removed from his post of General Secretary of the BCP and from the Political Bureau. He was replaced as General Secretary by Petur Mladenov, who had been the Minister of Foreign Affairs since 1971 and a member of the BCP's Political Bureau since 1977. Mladenov also replaced Zhivkov as President of the State Council, while resigning as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He pledged to introduce comprehensive political and economic reforms and to give greater attention to environmental issues.[1]

3.8          In mid-November the National Assembly voted for the abolition of part of the penal code prohibiting "anti-State propaganda", and for the granting of an amnesty to persons who had been convicted under the code's provisions. On the same day an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated in Sofia, in support of demands for democratic reforms. As a result Zhivkov was denounced by the BCP and divested of his party membership. An investigation into the extent of corruption during his tenure of power was begun and he was subsequently arrested in 1990. [1] (See also Actual Practice with regard to Human Rights, paragraph 5.1)

3.9          The removal of Zhivkov marked the end of the Communist regime. A series of discussions, covering political and economic reforms, was initiated in January 1990 between the BCP, the BAPU (Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union) and the Union of Democratic Forces, a co-ordinating organisation (established in 1989, and now known as the UtDF) embracing several dissident and independent groups, including Ecoglansost and Podkrepa Support Trade Union Confederation. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP - the renamed Communist party) won the first democratic elections in June 1990. The UDF rejected the BSP's invitation to join a coalition government. In July 1990 Petur Mladenov announced his resignation as President and Zhelyu Zhelev, Chairman of the UDF was elected to replace him. [1]

3.10        In mid-November 1990 the Grand National Assembly voted to rename the country "The Republic of Bulgaria" and to remove from the national flag the state emblem which included communist symbols. [1]

3.11        At new elections, which were held in October 1991 the UDF obtained the largest share of the vote (34.4%), defeating the BSP by a narrow margin of just over 1% of the votes cast. The UDF won a total of 110 seats in the legislature, while the BSP obtained 106 seats. Filip Dimitrov, the leader of UDF was elected chairman of the new government with the support of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). [1] (See also The Bulgarian Constitution, paragraph 4.18 - 4.20; Freedom of Assembly and Association, paragraph 6.11; and General Situation with regard to Ethnic Minorities, paragraph 5.39)

3.12        A direct presidential election was held in January 1992. As no candidate received 50% of the votes cast in the first round of the election, there was a second round involving the two leading candidates: the incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev and Velko Valkanov, an independent supported by the BSP. Zhelev was re-elected for a five-year term with 53% of the votes cast. [1]

3.13        Throughout 1992 labour unrest was endemic. In April the government's programme of price liberalisation caused further trade union disillusion and the main trade union federations, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and Podkrepa, abandoned talks with the government, complaining of a lack of consultation. There were further strikes in mid July 1992 and miners were joined by port employees, public transport, medical staff and civil servants and in October 1992 there were strikes by teachers and munitions workers. At the end of October the MRF and BSP deputies in the National Assembly defeated the government by 121 votes to 111 in a motion of confidence, requested by Dimitrov. The government subsequently resigned. [1]

3.14        In November 1992 President Zhelev invited Dimitrov to form a new government. However, following the failure of the UDF and the MRF to reach an agreement for a coalition under the MRF mandate, in December the MRF nominated an academic, Professor Lyuben Berov, hitherto an economic adviser to President Zhelev, to be Prime Minister. Berov was approved as Prime Minister on 30 December 1992 in a secret ballot. Berov's Council of Ministers was principally composed of "experts" without party political allegiances. [1]

3.15        There followed a period of political unrest and a lack of support for Berov's administration. On 5 April 1994 thousands of demonstrators protested in Sofia against government policies. On 2 September 1994 Berov's government offered its resignation and it was accepted by the National Assembly on 8 September. The following month President Zhelev dissolved the National Assembly and announced that a general election would take place on 18 December 1994. Later in October, Zhelev appointed an interim neutral government, headed by Reneta Indzhova. [1]

3.16        At the general election, which was held as scheduled on 18 December 1994, the BSP (in alliance, as the Democratic Left, with two small parties, the Aleksandur Stamboliyski Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union and the Ecoglasnost Political Club - the political wing of the Ecoglasnost National Movement) obtained an outright majority in the National Assembly, with 125 seats, while the UDF won 69 seats. The new government, headed by the Chairman of the BSP, Zhan Videnov, was appointed at the end of January 1995; the majority of the ministers were members of the BSP. [1]

3.17        At municipal elections which took place in late October and early November 1995, the ruling coalition won the majority of mayoralties. [1]

3.18        On 10 January 1996 the opposition proposed another vote of no confidence in the Videnov administration, in protest at the country's severe grain crisis, which had resulted from the government's repeal of a ban on grain exports in July 1995. The motion was defeated, but the scandal prompted the resignation of the Deputy Prime Minister and a further two ministers. [1]

3.19        In primary elections for a UDF presidential candidate, which were held in June 1996, Petar Stoyanov, a lawyer and senior member of the opposition alliance, secured 66% of the votes cast, defeating Zhelev. Zhelev responded by announcing that he would support Stoyanov's candidature for the presidency. The National Assembly scheduled the presidential election for 27 October 1996. The BSP selected the Minister of Culture, Ivan Marazov, as its presidential candidate. Marazov was to represent a newly formed electoral alliance, known as Together for Bulgaria, which comprised the parties in the Democratic Left parliamentary coalition (the BSP, Aleksandur Stamboliyski and the Ecoglasnost Political Club). [1]

3.20        In the first round of the presidential election, which was contested by 14 political groups on 27 October 1996, Stoyanov secured 44.1% of votes cast; Mazarov received only 27% of the votes, while the BBB (Bulgarian Business Block) candidate, Georgi Ganchev, won 21.9%. Only 61% of the electorate voted in the second round of the presidential election, which took place on 3 November. This was attributed to public disaffection with the government's management of the critical economic situation. Stoyanov was elected to the presidency, with 59.7% of votes cast. [1]

3.21        On 19 January 1997 Stoyanov was inaugurated as President and began a 5 year term of office. In early February the BSP announced the appointment of a new Council of Ministers. However, following a series of strikes and protests, Prime Minister Dobrev agreed to relinquish the party's mandate to form a new government. The Consultative National Security Council adopted recommendations that the President should appoint an interim Council of Ministers, dissolve the incumbent National Assembly and schedule new legislative elections. In February 1997 President Stoyanov nominated the mayor of Sofia, Stefan Sofyanski, to the office of Prime Minister and formed an interim Council of Ministers pending elections. [1] & [2(b)]

3.22        On 2 October 1996 the former Prime Minister, Andrei Lukanov (and influential member of the BSP) was assassinated. Speculation regarding the motive for the killing focused, in particular, on Lukanov's critical stance towards the Videnov administration's slow implementation of economic reforms. Some of his colleagues claimed that his assassination was linked to his plans to publicize corruption at the highest levels of the BSP; others saw the killing as a gang-land style murder related to his business dealings. The investigation into it was extended in July 1998 but it remains unsolved. [1] & [2(a)] & [2(c)]

3.23        On 21 December 1996 Videnov unexpectedly tendered his resignation from the office of Prime Minister and the post of party leader during a congress of the BSP. Georgi Purvanov, one of Videnov's supporters, subsequently replaced him as Chairman of the BSP. At the end of December 1996 the National Assembly voted by a large majority to accept the resignation of Videnov's government. In January 1997 the BSP designated the Minister of the Interior, Nikolai Dobrev, to replace Videnov as Prime Minister. [1]

3.24        At the beginning of 1997, the BSP, and two nominal partners governed in a coalition. Widespread political unrest caused by a worsening economic crisis culminated in crippling nationwide strikes and daily anti-government protests in January and February. Under mounting pressure, the BSP-led government agreed in early February to hold elections in April 1997. A parliamentary general election was held on 19 April 1997. This resulted in the United of Democratic Forces (UtDF, formerly the UDF) gaining an overall majority in parliament with 137 seats; the Democratic Left obtained 58 seats; the Alliance for National Salvation (ANS) 19 seats; the Euroleft 14 seats; and the Business Block 12 seats. President Stoyanov formally asked Ivan Kostov, the leader of the UtDF, to form a government. 2(b)] & [10(a)]

(See also Instruments of State, The Political System paragraphs 4.1 - 4.12)

B.           Economic History:

3.25        The post-Communist economy continued to be heavily dependent on money-losing state enterprises, although the growing private sector now accounts for about 45% of economic activity, and privatization is accelerating. Most people in Bulgaria are employed in the industrial and service sectors; key industries include food processing, chemical and oil processing, metallurgy, and energy. Principal exports are agricultural products, cigarettes and tobacco, chemicals, and metal products. The transformation of the economy to a market-oriented system was retarded by continued political and social resistance. Slow progress in the privatization of the large Communist-era state enterprises was a major reason for economic stagnation in 1996 and 1997. [2(b)]

3.26        The failure to implement structural reforms led to an economic collapse in 1996 and early 1997. The financial system stabilized after a brief hyper-inflationary period after the switch to a caretaker government, but gross domestic product continued to decline through most of 1997. The EU commenced emergency assistance to ease continuing hardship in early 1997. Following the resumption of negotiations between a new interim administration and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), agreement was reached in March 1997 regarding the adoption of structural reforms, including the establishment of a currency control board which were to be supported by IMF credit. [1] & [2(b)].

3.27        The present government has announced its commitment to an accelerated privatization programme with the IMF and although the target for 1997 of $400 million was exceeded privatisation has not moved forward as quickly as hoped. Significant progress towards economic stability was achieved in 1997 when the Government introduced a currency board under which the value of the lev was fixed to the Deutschmark. Lev will only be issued against reserves held. By doing this the lev is fully convertible; and the government is no longer able to finance the deficit by printing money. The rules of the currency board have been strictly applied and the board has achieved some success owing in part to a rapid decline in the rate of inflation which favoured foreign investors. The government also implemented fiscal and monetary austerity, budget and staff cuts, and radical economic restructuring in 1997. However, the annual per capita gross domestic product of $1,115 provides a relatively low standard of living. [2(b) & (c)] & [13(p)]

3.28        The economy continued to stabilise in 1998. The Government places a great deal of emphasis on attracting foreign investment and promised far-reaching structural reforms to make the country a viable candidate for EU membership. [2(b) & (c)] & [13(p)] and [13(u)]

IV.       INSTRUMENTS OF THE STATE

A.          The Political System

4.1          Legislative power is held by the unicameral National Assembly, comprising 240 members, who are elected for four years by universal adult suffrage (18 years). The President of the Republic is the Head of State and is elected for a period of five years. The President is also the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Council of Ministers, the highest organ of state administration, is elected by the National Assembly. For local administration, Bulgaria comprises nine regions which are in turn divided into 273 municipalities. [2(a)]

4.2          Chapter Seven of the Constitution provides for the division of Bulgaria into regions and municipalities. The municipalities' principal organ is the Municipal Council, which is elected directly by the population for a term of four years. The Council elects the Mayor, who is the principal organ of executive power. Bulgaria is also divided into regions. Regional government, which is entrusted to regional governors and administrations, is responsible for regional policy, the implementation of state policy at a local level and the co-ordination of local and national interests. [1]

4.3          On 3 September 1997 the Bulgarian Defence Minister Georgi Ananiev concluded his one-day official visit to Skopje. This was the first visit by a Bulgarian defence minister to the Republic of Macedonia since it was founded and was made at the invitation of Macedonian Defence Minister Lazar Kitanovski. [10(h)]

4.4          The common viewpoint expressed by the two defence ministers after their meeting at the Macedonian Defence Ministry was that Bulgaria and Macedonia could be of mutual benefit to one another in their efforts to integrate into NATO. According to Minister Kitanovski, mutual co-operation, not competition, between the two armies can help the countries in their efforts to be admitted into the Euro-Atlantic security structures. He also briefed his Bulgarian counterpart on the next steps that Macedonia would undertake in this direction. Lazar Kitanovski also accepted the invitation to take part in the meeting of the defence ministers of south-eastern Europe to be held in Sofia in October 1997. For his part, Georgi Ananiev informed his host about the essence of the reform being carried out in the Bulgarian Army and about his country's desire to maintain good-neighbourly relations with all the countries in the region. [10(h)]

4.5          Macedonian President, Kiro Gligorov, also received the Bulgarian defence minister, who passed on greetings to him from President Petur Stoyanov. Kiro Gligorov drew attention from his country's desire for a frank exchange of view on all issues that interest the two countries. In his view, relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia should develop on the basis of mutual respect of each country's interests and in the interest of Balkan security. President Gligorov praised highly the co-operation between the two armies in the defence field and again stressed that this is of particular importance for good-neighbourly relations between the two countries. [10(h)]

(See also Ethnic Macedonians, paragraphs 5.63 - 5.79)

4.6          On 4 September 1997, the Bulgarian President Petur Stoyanov met the Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas in Vilnius. The Bulgarian president had arrived in Vilnius on 4th September to attend the Vilnius Conference-‘97. The most important issue discussed at the meeting was the encouragement of bilateral economic co-operation. The spokesman for the [Lithuanian] president, Jonas Rekesius, said that during a conversation it was noted that it was the strategic goal of the two countries to join the Central European Free Trade Organisation, CEFTA. Both presidents stressed the need for Lithuania and Bulgaria to speed up negotiations on signing free trade agreements with all CEFTA countries. [10(g)]

4.7          Algirdas Brazauskas believes that Lithuania and Bulgaria must sign an agreement on encouraging investments, because co-operation between the two states in this area lacks vigour. The Lithuanian president also noted the Lithuanian citizens find it difficult to go to Bulgarian resorts, because Lithuania and Bulgaria do not have an agreement on discounted tariffs for air travel. [10(g)]

4.8          The Bulgarian president was also scheduled to meet the Estonian, Finnish and Romanian presidents and the Russian prime minister while he was attending the summit. [10(g)]

4.9          On 5 September 1997, Bulgarian President Petur Stoyanov conferred, in Vilnius, with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. President Stoyanov was taking part in an international conference on security issues in Vilnius. He also met Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. [10(i)]

4.10        At his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the Bulgarian head of state raised the issue of Russia's debt to Bulgaria. "We have reached an agreement in principle on settling the debt in machines for the metallurgical industry and military equipment," President Stoyanov said. "However, the final decision will have to be discussed in detail by the inter-governmental commission," President Stoyanov added. [10(i)]

4.11        "Russia is Bulgaria's strategic political and economic partner; the differences which we have in our attitude to NATO should cede to the background," Stoyanov said. The chairman of the Russian side of the joint commission for economic, scientific and technological co-operation (to replace former Deputy Prime Minister Alfred Kokh, who resigned) will be appointed within two days, Chernomyrdin told Stoyanov. (The commission held its fifth session in December 1997 in Sofia. [10(i)]

4.12        At this meeting with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, Bulgarian President Petur Stoyanov discussed the restoration of visa-free regulations between Bulgaria and Finland. In 1989 Finland unilaterally denounced its visa-free regulations with Bulgaria in response to the brutal attitude of the Bulgarian authorities to Bulgarian nationals of Turkish descent, Stoyanov recalled after the meeting. "The process of attracting Finnish investment to Bulgaria is not advancing as we would like it to," Stoyanov added. "Some progress has been made in the political field - Nikolay Kamov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the 37th National Assembly, visited Finland last year and this year we expect the Finnish foreign minister to visit Bulgaria." Stoyanov said. [10(i)]

(See also Turks, paragraphs 5.42 - 5.49)

B.           The 1997 Parliamentary Elections:

4.13        In January 1997 the National Assembly was dissolved and the President appointed an interim Council of Ministers. [2(a)]

4.14        On 19 April 1997 a parliamentary election was held which resulted in the United Democratic of Forces gaining an overall majority in parliament. Details of the results are set out below:-

 

POLITICAL GROUP/PARTY

% OF VOTES

NO. OF SEATS

United Democratic Forces (UtDF)

 

 

Union of Democratic Forces (UDF)

 

 

People's Union (PU)

 

 

Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (BSDP)

57.1

137

Democratic Left

 

 

Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)

 

 

Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU)

 

 

Political Club Ecoglasnost

24.2

58

Alliance for National Salvation (ANS)

 

 

Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF)

 

 

Petkov's Bulgarian Agrarian National Union

 

 

Green Party

 

 

New Choice

 

 

Kingdom of Bulgaria Federation (monarchist groups)

 

 

Democratic Centre Party

7.9

19

Euroleft

5.8

14

Bulgarian Business Block (BBB)

5

12

[13(e)]

 

 

 

See also Annex C which gives details of those parties which ran in the 1997 parliamentary election.

C.          The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government:

4.15        Citizens have the right to change their government and head of state through the election of the President and of the members of the National Assembly, although the constitutional prohibition of parties formed on ethnic, racial, or religious lines has the effect of circumscribing access to the political process for some groups particularly those Roma who have expressed a desire to create their own party. Suffrage is universal at the age of 18. [2(b) & (c)]

4.16        Citizens exercised the right to change their government in April 1997. This followed popular unrest in the form of general strikes and daily protests during the political crisis of January and early February 1997 which led to a political capitulation by an extremely unpopular and widely discredited government and agreement to move immediately to new elections. The populace believed that the government, dominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, bore the brunt of the blame for the economic malaise that began with the banking crisis in the spring of 1996 and worsened with the collapse of the national currency (Lev) in late 1996 and early 1997. The government bowed to popular pressure and agreed on 4 February 1997 to allow President Petur Stoyanov (who was elected in late 1996 and took office in January 1997) of the United Democratic Forces to select a caretaker government in preparation for early parliamentary elections in April 1997. Free and fair elections, which were observed by international monitors, were held on 19 April 1997 and resulted in an absolute majority for the UDF. UDF parliamentary group leader (and former opposition leader) Ivan Kostov was chosen by his party as Prime Minister. [2(b)]

4.17        There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women in government although they are under represented. A number of women hold elective and appointive office at high levels, including three cabinet-level posts and several key positions in the National Assembly. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the leader of the UDF parliamentary group are both women. Women hold just under 11% of the seats in the National Assembly. [2(b) & (c)]

Furthermore there are no legal restrictions which hinder the participation of minorities in politics, apart from the prohibition of ethnically, racially or religiously based parties. Nevertheless both the ethnic Turkish and Roma communities are under-represented in appointed Government positions. [2(c)]

D.          The Bulgarian Constitution:

4.18        The Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria took effect upon its proclamation on 13 July 1991, following its enactment on the previous day. [1]

4.19        Chapter One of the Constitution declares that the Republic of Bulgaria is to have a parliamentary form of government with all state power derived from the people. The rule of law and the life, dignity and freedom of the individual are guaranteed. The Constitution is the supreme law, the power of the State is shared between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The Constitution upholds principles such as political and religious freedom (no party may be legally formed on separatist, ethnic or religious lines, however) free economic initiative and respect for international law. [1]

4.20        Chapter Two of the Constitution establishes the basis provisions for Bulgarian citizenship and fundamental human rights, such as the rights of privacy and movement, the freedom of expression, assembly and association and the enfranchisement of Bulgarian citizens over 18 years. The Constitution commits the State to the provision of basic social welfare and education and to the encouragement of culture, science and the health of the population. The study and use of the Bulgarian language is required. Other obligations of the citizenry include military service and the payment of taxes. [1]

E.           Security Forces:

4.21        Most internal security services including the police, Central Service for Combating Organized Crime, the National Security Service (civilian intelligence), internal security troops, border guards, and special forces are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, which exercises improving but incomplete control following reforms to increase accountability. The change of government brought a change in leadership and management of most of these services, in some cases replacing security officials involved in the notorious State Security Organization (known as DS) and its repressive activities during the pre-1989 Communist regime. Both before and after the change in government, some members of the police force committed serious human rights abuses and a climate of impunity exists which inhibits attempts to end these abuses. [2(b) & (c)]

i)            Police and Human Rights

4.22        The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 1998, but problems remained in some areas. Police used unwarranted lethal force against suspects and minorities in some cases. Security forces beat suspects and inmates and at times arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. Government control of the police is not sufficiently complete to ensure full accountability. This results in a climate of impunity and inhibits government attempts to end police abuses. UNHCR have expressed concern over the claim that security forces are not sufficiently accountable to Parliament or to society and that the Prosecutor's orders are, in general, not subject to judicial review. Amnesty International remain concerned about the unlawful use of firearms and have produced a number of reports over the years about incidents in which the police have shot people. Although no official statistics on such cases have been published, according to press reports and from local human rights organisations 8 people were killed in the period January - November 1998. Despite repeated requests to the Bulgarian authorities to revise provisions of Article 42 of the Bulgarian Law on National Police 1993 to bring it into line with internationally recognised principles, the National Assembly adopted on 17 December 1997 a new law retaining similar provisions on the use of firearms. [2(b) & (c)], [8]& [14(d)]

ii)           Complaints and Abuses by Police

4.23        There were fewer reports of serious police abuse during 1998.Interior Ministry data show 106 cases of police brutality were confirmed for the period 1 June 1997 - 30 April 1998. Legal proceedings were initiated in 44 cases: 4 officers were convicted, 26 dismissed and 63 were sanctioned. By comparison 21 complaints were filed about police brutality in 1996, 3 of which were judged justifiable. For the period January to September 1997, 24 such complaints were received of which 7 were considered to be of merit. The Ministry statistics reflect only those official complaints registered by the alleged victims. Human rights NGOs report that they receive many more complaints from persons who are too intimidated to lodge an official complaint with government authorities. The police have generally refused to make investigative reports available to the public. [2(b) & (c)]

4.24        Some policemen were punished for excesses although the investigative process is not sufficiently expeditious or transparent. Changes in personnel and structures in the Ministry of Interior, the prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Justice all contributed towards tightening control and accountability. Interior minister Bogomil Bonev disbanded the renegade ‘special police unit' following a series of abuses in 1997. He also introduced a campaign of "zero tolerance" that also contributed to reducing police abuses. There is recognition that outside training and long-term consultations with Western law enforcement agencies are instrumental in developing greater control and effectiveness in law enforcement. [2(c)].

iii)          Employment of Police Officers

4.25        It is an offence, as with the armed forces, for a serving officer to be a member of a political party. [13(p)].

4.26        The police force is aiming to employ 10% women and representatives from ethnic minorities in the next few years. There are 1,000 military police officers, nearly all of whom are professionals. [18(h)]

F.           The Judiciary:

4.27        Under the Constitution the judiciary is granted independent and co-equal status with the legislative and executive branches. However, the judiciary continues to struggle with problems such as corruption, low salaries, under-staffing, antiquated procedures, and a heavy backlog of cases. Partly as a legacy of Communism and partly because of the court system's corruption, structural, and personnel problems, many citizens have little confidence in the judicial system. Human rights groups complain that local prosecutors and magistrates sometimes fail to pursue vigorously crimes committed against minorities. Many observers believe that reforms are essential to establish a fair, impartial and effective judicial system. Few organized crime figures have been prosecuted to date, but the government has made the battle against organized crime a priority and has reformed the Penal Code and sought external assistance to that end. [2(c)]

4.28        The 1991 Constitution provided for justice to be administered by the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Supreme Administrative Court, courts of appeal, courts of assizes, military courts and district courts. Legal officials are the justices (or judges) of the higher courts, the prosecutors and the investigating magistrates. [1]

4.29        The Supreme Court: The government has not yet carried out several of the reforms provided for in a 1994 judicial reform bill, including revised procedures for the two separate Supreme Courts. [2(b)]

4.30        The Constitutional Court: This is separate from the normal court system. It is empowered to rescind legislation it considers unconstitutional, settle disputes over the conduct of general elections, and resolve conflicts over the division of powers between the various branches of government. [2(b)]

4.31        Military Courts: These courts handle cases involving military personnel and some cases involving national security matters. The Constitutional Court does not have specific jurisdiction in matters of military justice. [2(b)]

4.32        Judges: Judges are appointed by the 25-member Supreme Judicial Council and, after serving for 3 years, may not be replaced except under limited, specified circumstances.This effective inability to replace judges virtually regardless of performance has often been cited as a hindrance to effective law enforcement. The 12 justices on the Constitutional Court are chosen for 9-year terms as follows: a third are elected by the National Assembly, a third appointed by the President, and a third elected by judicial authorities. [2(b)]

4.33        The Constitution stipulates that all courts shall conduct their hearings in public unless the proceedings involve state security or national secrets. There were no reported complaints about limited access to courtroom proceedings. Defendants have the right to learn of the charges against them and are given ample time to prepare a defence. The right of appeal is provided and widely used. Defendants in criminal proceedings have the right to confront witnesses and to have an attorney, provided by the state if necessary, in serious cases. [2(b)]

4.34        The Chief Prosecutor is responsible for the precise and equal application of the law. Judges are appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council and, after serving for 3 years, may not be replaced except under exceptional circumstances. [1]

4.35        A report issued by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board in November 1995 highlighted a shortcoming in the Bulgarian judicial system whereby the Bulgarian legislation makes it very difficult to bring charges when the violations are committed by authorities as it does not allow private prosecution of public officials. This was believed to discourage many victims in their efforts to seek redress through the courts. [6]

G.          Legal Rights/Detention:

4.36        The Constitution provides for protection against arbitrary arrest and detention. It also provides for access to legal counsel from the time of detention. Police normally obtain a warrant from a prosecutor prior to apprehending an individual; otherwise, in emergency circumstances judicial authorities must rule on the legality of a detention within 24 hours. Defendants have the right to visits by family members, to examine evidence, and to know the charges against them. Charges may not be made public without the permission of the Chief Prosecutor. Pretrial detention is limited to 2 months under normal circumstances, although this may be extended to 6 months by order of the Chief Prosecutor, who may also restart the process. In practice persons are often detained for well over 6 months. During an interview in May 1998, Deputy Minister of Justice Rousseva said that people were known to have spent up to 2 years in prison without a trial and he publicly acknowledged that such prolonged pre-trial detention constitutes a human rights violation. Under the terms of an August 1997 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure, pretrial detention for new detainees can last no more than one year or, if the alleged offence is punishable by over 15 years imprisonment, life imprisonment, or capital punishment, no more than two years. [2(c)] (See also Actual Practice with regard to Human Rights, paragraph 5.1).

4.37        In the event of a conviction, time spent in pretrial detention is credited towards the sentence. The Constitution provides for bail, and some detainees have been released under this provision, although bail is not widely used. [2(b)]

4.38        As of 1 July 1998, according to the Ministry of Justice, 993 inmates were in pretrial detention, 1,960 were on trial, and 8,861 had been convicted (for a total inmate population of 11,814). These figures do not include those held in custody by the National Investigative Service (NIS) which reported that as of 30 June 1998 its detainees numbered 3,257 of which 842 were in pre-trial detention. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has attempted again without success to gain access to NIS facilities in order to investigate allegations of abuse. [2(c)]

4.39        There was no progress in a case begun in 1993 relating to the forced assimilation and expulsion of ethnic Turks in 1984-85 and 1989; one of the three defendants Todor Zhivkov died in August 1998. [2(c)]

4.40        In June 1996 Amnesty International published a report, Bulgaria: Shootings, deaths in custody, torture and ill-treatment. The report's two appendices described seven deaths in custody in suspicious circumstances, three incidents in which six people were shot and 17 cases of torture and ill-treatment of dozens of victims. Amnesty International was particularly concerned by an apparent pattern of impunity of law enforcement officers responsible for human rights violations. [4]

4.41        The Bulgarian Government in response looked into the cases raised by Amnesty International, reported on the results of inquiries into 16 of the cases, and expressed readiness to co-operate with Amnesty International. However, in October 1996 Amnesty International urged the Bulgarian Government to provide additional information, stating that the information provided was "insufficient to assess whether these investigations have been prompt and impartial".[2(a)] & [4]

4.42        Amnesty International's 1997 Report details further cases of ill-treatment and torture at the hands of the law enforcement officers some of whom were criminal suspects. An increasing number were said to be victims of random violence. Many of these were Roma and some were conscientious objectors. [4(b)]

4.43        According to a March 1997 report of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), "criminal suspects deprived of their liberty by the police in Bulgaria run a significant risk of being ill-treated at the time of their apprehension and/or while in police custody, and ... on occasion resort may be had to severe ill-treatment torture." The CPT delegation included medical professionals who examined detainees and found evidence in the form of "physical marks or other medical conditions consistent with their allegations." The report further described conditions in National Investigative Service detention facilities as "almost without exception...inhuman and degrading." [2(b)]

H.          Prisons:

4.44        Conditions in some prisons are harsh, and include severe overcrowding, inadequate lavatory facilities, and insufficient heating and ventilation. Inspection visits are not allowed in some prisons. Credible sources reported cases of brutality committed by prison guards against inmates; in some cases, prisoners who complained were placed in solitary confinement. The process by which prisoners may complain of substandard conditions or of mistreatment does not appear to function. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) reported in 1998 that tuberculosis was a growing problem in some prisons [2(c)] & [4(b)].

4.45        In 1998 the government co-operated fully with requests by independent observers to monitor conditions in those prisons under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Such co-operation, however, was not the case for the detention centres operated by the National Investigative Service. [2(c)]

4.46        Human rights observers consider so-called "Educational Boarding Schools" (formerly known as "Labour Education Schools") to which problem children can be sent appear to be little different from penal institutions. However, since the schools are not considered prisons under the law, the procedures by which children are confined in these schools are not subject to minimal due process. This denial of due process is criticized by human rights observer groups such as the Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights. Children sometimes appear alone despite the requirement that parents attend hearings; the right to an attorney at the hearing is expressly prohibited by law. Decisions on these cases are not subject to judicial review, and children typically stay in the Educational Boarding Schools for 3 years or until they reach majority age, whichever occurs first. In late 1996, the National Assembly enacted legislation providing for court review of sentencing to such schools, setting a limit of a 3-year stay, and addressing other problems in these institutions. Some observers dismiss these provisions as a formality, as the child is not present to speak on his or her own behalf (nor is the defence lawyer, nor the child's parents). (See also Children, paragraphs 5.14 - 5.16) [2(b)]

I.            Social Welfare

4.47        The Bulgarian Health service is administered by the Ministry of Health, with the assistance of local government and the Bulgarian Red Cross. Medical care is provided free of charge. The development of a private health sector has also been encouraged (private medical and dentistry practices were banned between 1972 and 1989). [1]

4.48        State provision is made for social benefits, including sickness and unemployment allowances, maternity leave payments and pensions. The retirement age is 60 years for men and 55 years for women. Many employees are entitled to early retirement. State social insurance is directed by the Department of Public Insurance and the Directorate of Pensions. [1]

4.49        According to the Health Ministry 219 people have registered with AIDS but according to experts, over 6000 are infected with the HIV virus without knowing it. A 2-day international conference was held in the National Palace of Culture on 5 March 1998 organised by the United Nations AIDS Development Programme. Despite the low number of recorded HIV cases, the Central and Eastern European region is not immune to the problem.[10(l)].

J.           Education

4.50        Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16 years. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 years may attend kindergartens. Primary education beginning at 6 years of age, lasts for 8 years. Education at secondary level is continued at "gymnasiums" (German/continental secondary schools), which provide a general academic course, or vocational and technical schools, which offer specialized training. In addition there are 16 art schools. (See also Religious Freedoms/Minorities paragraphs 5.21 - 5.33). [1]

K.          Refugees

4.51        Bulgaria considers granting asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. The government provides first asylum. However, domestic and international human rights organizations expressed concern over the government's handling of asylum claims and reported that there may be cases in which bona fide refugees are forced to return to countries where they fear persecution. A bill on refugees was unanimously adopted by Parliament on 19 June 1998 which sets up a specialized refugees agency and regulates in detail the granting, revoking and challenging of refugee status within the country and supersedes the Residence of Aliens in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. For the period 1 January to 31 August 1998 the Ministry of Interior reported that 2,843 people were denied entry at borders. It is not known how many of these persons requested asylum. [2(c)]

4.52        The NBTAR reports that, from its inception in 1993 until 30 June 1998, a total of 2,367 people applied for asylum. In the first five months of 1998, 367 applied, 30 were approved and 48 were refused [for 126 the process was terminated usually because the applicant could not be found]. Domestic and international human rights organizations complained that the asylum process is slow (it can take up to 4 years). With UNHCR's assistance the Government opened a small reception centre in Banya (near the Greek/Turkish border) but plans to open another at Sofia have been delayed because of funding difficulties.[2(c)]

(See also Freedom of Movement, paragraph 6.26)

L.           Europe and NATO

4.53        Bulgaria has maintained close links with other Eastern European countries through its membership of the Warsaw Pact and of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). Following political upheavals which took place in Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990, both the Warsaw Pact and CMEA were dissolved in mid-1991. Diplomatic relations with several Western nations were re-established in 1990 and 1991, and in mid-1992 Bulgaria became a member of the Council of Europe. [1]

4.54        In May 1994, Bulgaria was granted associate partnership status by the Western European Union (WEU). In June 1992, Bulgaria, along with 10 other countries signed a pact to establish the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Group which envisaged the creation of a Black Sea economic zone that would compliment the European Community (now the European Union). In 1996 Bulgaria submitted an official application for membership of the EU. In October that year Bulgaria joined the World Trade Organization. [1]

4.55        Bulgaria has now completed negotiations to become a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). Full membership will take effect from 1 January 1999.

4.56        Bulgaria joined NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme of military co-operation in February 1994. Bulgaria formally applied for NATO membership in February 1997. Defence Minister Georgi Ananiev said he expected the application to be treated seriously at the NATO summit meeting in April 1999 [1] & [13(p)] & [18(p)]

V.        HUMAN RIGHTS

A.          Actual Practice with Regard to Human Rights

5.1          The Bulgarian Government has been making significant improvements in the observance of human rights since the overthrow of the communist regime, especially in their reversal of the campaign of forced assimilation of ethnic Turks and the safeguards on human rights contained in the Constitution. By ratifying the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in September 1992, the Bulgarian Government made a further commitment to protecting human rights. Parliament abolished on 10 December 1998 capital punishment after 4 months of heated debate. By October 1998 a total of 19 people had received the death penalty which were confirmed by the Supreme Court but of these 11 were pardoned by the President.[3] & [8] & [18®]

5.2          The Constitution expressly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment but despite this prohibition police beat criminal suspects and members of minorities including Romani Street children. Local and international human rights groups operate freely, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Local human rights groups did not report significant improvement in their dealings with government officials. Government officials, however, especially local officials, are occasionally reluctant to provide information or active co-operation. The failure of the National Investigative Service to allow access by human rights groups to its detention centres is of particular concern. [2(c)]

5.3          According to the June 1996 Amnesty International Report, lawyers and non-governmental organisations monitoring human rights in Bulgaria frequently report that although the incidence of ill-treatment is high, few victims make official complaints, either because they fear further harassment or because they do not believe that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. [3]

5.4          The Constitution provides for the inviolability of the home, the right to choose one's place of work and residence, and the freedom and confidentiality of correspondence.Government authorities respect these provisions. [2(c)]

5.5          The present government places a high priority on combating crime and corruption and to that end amended the Penal Code. But local observers contend that organised crime even influences the prosecutor's office exemplified in August 1998 when the offices of a large conglomerate were raided for illegally trafficking in sugar but the search warrant was cancelled mid-raid. The MOI is under pressure from Western countries to close these loopholes and strengthen enforcement capabilities. [2(c)]

5.6          The National Assembly passed legislation, initiated by the present government, to open the dossiers created by the former state security services to inspection both by a government commission and by private citizens. The Socialist opposition opposed the law and challenged its legitimacy in the Constitutional Court; the Court, however, upheld its main provisions. [2(b)]

5.7          There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances, killings or detentions in 1998. Nor does the government use forced exile. [2(c)]

B.           Human Rights: Specific Groups

i)            Women:

5.8          The Bulgarian Constitution provides for individual rights, equality and protection against discrimination, but in practice discrimination still exists, particularly against women. There are no special programmes to address economic discrimination or to integrate women better into the mainstream of society and the economy. The Government has signed a number of Conventions relating to the status of women: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Political Rights of Women and the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women. [2(c)]

5.9          Domestic abuse is a serious and common problem, but there are no official statistics on its occurrence. The Animus Association (AA), an NGO offers help and support to female victims of violence, reported 348 cases of domestic violence, 35 cases of sexual violence and 30 cases of trafficking in women between January and August 1998. Its total caseload has increased several times over from the same period in 1997. This could be explained by a successful publicity campaign and by an evolution in attitudes towards women who are now much more inclined to seek help from such organisations. [2(c)]

5.10        Currently the law exempts from state prosecution certain types of assault if committed by a family member, and the government does not assist in prosecuting crimes of domestic assault unless the woman has been killed or permanently injured. The courts view domestic abuse as a family, not a criminal problem and in most cases victims of domestic violence take refuge with family or friends rather than approach the authorities. They prosecute rape, although it remains an under-reported crime because some stigma still attaches to the victim. The maximum sentence for rape is 8 years; convicted offenders often receive a lesser sentence or early parole. Ministry of Interior figures reveal that during the first half of 1998 309 rapes and 58 attempted rapes were reported.Marital rape is a crime but is rarely prosecuted. No government agencies provide shelter or counselling for such persons, although there is a private initiative to address the problem. [2(c)]

5.11        In 1997 the Bulgarian Government for the first time enacted a law against trafficking in women. The AA reports that, according to foreign women's organizations, Bulgarian women comprise the fourth largest group of victims of forced prostitution in Western and Central Europe. Typically, the women are lured away with offers of overseas jobs as nannies, waitresses, dancers, shop assistants, or fruit-pickers and are surprised to discover that virtual indentured servitude in prostitution awaits them. The AA also reports that the most common destination for such women is Cyprus, but that Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Macedonia have all been used either for the transit or "sale" of victims. Women have reportedly been lured into Bulgaria from the former Soviet Union and Macedonia, also for forced prostitution. A 1997 amendment to the Penal code on trafficking in women introduced longer prison sentences (to existing kidnapping penalties already in force) for those cases where the victim is under 18 years of age, is offered to another person for sexual abuse or is trafficked abroad for sexual abuse. However it is unclear how the amendment has been implemented [2(c)]

5.12        Female victims of violence are hampered by technical and bureaucratic obstacles. Many of the victims are very young and have not worked previously and are disqualified from social assistance. If they have run away and have no registered address they are also ineligible for humanitarian assistance. Victims are not encouraged to file complaints because there is no mechanism in place to protect witnesses. Sexual harassment is not illegal. [2(c)]

5.13        Many of the approximately 30 women's organizations are closely associated with political parties or have primarily professional agendas. Some observers believe that women's organizations tend to be associated with political parties or professional groups because feminism in itself has negative connotations in Bulgarian society. Of those that exist mainly to defend women's interests, the two largest are the Women's Democratic Union in Bulgaria, heir to the group that existed under the Communist dictatorship, and the Bulgarian Women's Association, which disappeared under communism but has now re-emerged and has chapters in a number of cities. [2(b)]

5.14        The Constitution forbids privileges or restrictions of rights on the basis of sex and women are not impeded from owning or managing businesses, land, or the other real property and do not suffer discrimination under inheritance laws. However, women face discrimination both in terms of recruitment and the likelihood of lay-offs. Official figures show the rate of unemployment for women to be higher than that for men. Women are much more likely than men to be employed in low-wage jobs requiring little education, although statistics show that women are equally likely to attend university. However fewer girls than boys are attending schools. Women, in the main, continue to have primary responsibility for child rearing and housekeeping even if they are employed outside the home. There are liberal provisions for paid maternity leave. However in some cases these may actually work against employers willingness to hire and retain female employees especially in the private sector.[2(c)]

ii)           Children:

5.15        The government is generally committed to protecting children's welfare but, with limited resources, falls short in several areas. It has however signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It maintains, for example, a sizable network of orphanages throughout the country. However, many are in disrepair and lack proper facilities and Amnesty International have expressed their concern to the Government that it is failing to meet its obligations under international human rights standards. [4(c)].Government efforts in education and health have been constrained by serious budgetary limitations and by outmoded social care structures. The Constitution provides for mandatory school attendance until the age of 16. However fewer girls than boys attend school. [2(c)]

5.16        There is apparently no provision for due process of law for Roma and other juveniles when they are detained in Labour Education Schools run by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Living conditions at these reform schools are poor, offering little medical, educational, or social opportunities. The Labor Education School at Slavovitsa has been the target of the harshest criticism. Generally, staff members at these institutions lack the proper qualifications and training to adequately care for the children. Degrading and severe punishment, such as the shaving of a child's head, reduction in diet, severe beatings, and long periods of solitary confinement, are common at the schools. In 1996 the MOE acknowledged problems at the schools, attributing the cause to a lack of funding. In late 1996, the National Assembly enacted legislation providing for court review of sentencing to such schools and addressing other problems in the reform school system. (See also Legal Rights/Detention, paragraphs 4.35 - 4.43) [2(b)]

5.17        The vast majority of children are free from societal abuse, although some Roma children are frequent targets of skinhead groups and arbitrary police detention; homeless or abandoned children were particularly vulnerable. Some Roma minors were forced into prostitution by family or community members. Little police effort was expended to address these problems. The National Police Directorate announced in June 1998 that juvenile delinquency was halved in the first 5 months of 1998 compared with the same period during the previous year. Some observers believe that there is a growing trend towards the use of children in prostitution, burglaries and narcotics distribution. [2(c)]

(See also Worker's Rights, paragraphs 6.17 - 6.25.) [2(b)]

iii)          Homosexuals:

5.18        Although homosexuality is frowned upon by many Bulgarians, homosexual acts (including lesbianism) are not illegal for those over the age of 16. Article 157 of the Penal Code details homosexual activities which are illegal including amongst others involvement with minors and procurement. Nor is there any policy to exclude homosexuals from service in the Bulgarian Armed Forces and there is no mention of homosexuals in the Defence and Armed Forces Act. In Sofia there is a bar known as the "Flamingo" which is run by gay rights activists and a further four gay clubs operate in Sofia. [2(b)] &[13(a)], [13(b)], [13(c)]&[13(t)], [18(l)]

iv)          People With Disabilities:

5.19        Disabled persons receive a range of financial assistance, including free public transportation, reduced prices on modified automobiles, and free equipment such as wheelchairs. However, as in other areas, budgetary constraints mean that such payments have fallen behind. Architectural barriers are a great hindrance in most older buildings for example there are no elevators in schools or universities. [2(c)]

5.20        In 1997 the Rehabilitation & Social Integration Fund was established and is developing a national draft strategy to improve conditions for the disabled. According to the Director of this new body, 82% of the disabled are unemployed. Workers with disabilities are entitled to shorter working hours which often leads to discrimination against them in hiring them in the first place. The law states that any enterprise employing more that 50 people must hire a certain number of disabled employees (depending on the nature of the industry) and those who do not are fined with the funds going to a disabled fund. But collection rates are extremely low due to delays in the judicial system. [2(c)]

5.21        In February 1998 the city of Plovdiv received 2 minibuses for use in transporting people with disabilities and recent public works now take account of the needs of the disabled. For example when a major inner city boulevard was built in Sofia, a lower pavement access was provided for wheelchairs and the subway was designed with wheelchair access in mind too. Nevertheless enforcement of a 1995 law requiring improved access in unrenovated buildings for the disabled has lagged. [2(c)]

5.23        Policies and public attitudes prevalent during the Communist era, which separated mentally and physically disabled children, including very young children, from the rest of society have persisted. Some complain that this effective segregation of disabled children lowers the quality of their education. [2(c)]

v)           Religious Freedom and Minorities:

5.24        Although the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, the government restricts this right in practice for some non-Orthodox religious groups. The ability of a number of religious groups to operate freely continued to come under attack, both as a result of government action and because of public intolerance. The government requirement that groups whose activities have a religious element register with the Council of Ministers remained an obstacle to the activity of some religious groups, such as the Unification Church, and prior to or in the absence of registration. Lack of registration was an obstacle to the activities of Jehoviah's Witnesses early in the year prior to registration being granted in November 1998. Local authorities cite the lack of registration as a pretext for interference against some groups and employ arbitrary harassment tactics against others. The ability of a number of religious groups to operate freely continued to come under attack, both as a result of action by local government authorities and because of public intolerance.[2(c)]

5.25        The Ministry of Education introduced an optional course on religion in the high school curriculum beginning with the 1998-99 school year although it is not available in all schools. Originally conceived as a "world religion" course that avoids endorsing any particular faith members of other religions especially ethnic Turkish Muslims maintain that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church receives privileged coverage in the textbooks. [2(c)] (See also Education, paragraph 4.51).

5.26        The Constitution designates Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the "traditional" religion and the Government provides financial support for it and other ‘traditional' denominations. Alongwith the Orthodox Church, the Muslim, Catholic and Jewish minority religious communities, are generally perceived as maintaining a longstanding place in society and hence benefit from a relatively high degree of tolerance as well as some Government financial support.

5.27        For most registered religious groups, there were no restrictions on attendance at religious services or on private religious instruction. A school for Imams, a Muslim cultural centre, university theological faculties, and religious primary schools operate freely. Bibles and other religious materials in the Bulgarian language are on most occasions freely imported and printed, and Muslim, Catholic, and Jewish publications are published on a regular basis. Nevertheless, police confiscated religious literature during Jehovah's Witnesses gatherings.The law on alternatives to military service which came into force on 1 January 1999 led to the registration of Jehoviah Witnesses. [2(c)] (See also Religious Freedom/Minorities, paragraphs 5.21 - 5.33)

5.28        There were no indications that the government discriminated against the members of any religious group in making restitution to previous owners of properties that were nationalized during the Communist regime. The government actively supported property restitution for a group representing the Jewish community although the return of two lucrative commercial Jewish communal properties continues to face administrative obstacles. [2(c)]

5.29        At the Department of Theology of Sofia University all students are required to present a certificate of baptism from the Orthodox Church, and married couples must present a marriage certificate from the same in order to enrol in the Department's classes; in 1996 two non-Orthodox applicants were denied admission to the Department when they were unable to present such certificates. The applicants then appealed to the local courts who decided in favour of one applicant. However following this court decision, the University changed its requirements effectively excluding both students [2(c)]

5.30        Discrimination, harassment, and general public intolerance of "non-traditional" religious minorities (i.e. the great majority of Protestant Christian religions) remained a problem. Deep-rooted suspicion of Evangelical denominations among the populace is widespread and pervasive across the political spectrum. Often cloaked in a veneer of "patriotism," a lack of tolerance for the religious beliefs of others enjoys significant popularity, and mainstream public pressure for containment of "foreign religious sects" inevitably influences policy-makers. Nevertheless human rights observers agreed that such discrimination lessened somewhat during 1998 as the populace appeared to adapt to the existence of previously unfamiliar religions. [2(c)]

5.31        Numerous articles in a broad range of newspapers depicted lurid and inaccurate pictures of the activities of non-Orthodox religious groups, attributing the breakup of families and drug abuse by youths to the practices of these groups and alleging that Evangelicals were drugging young children.[2(c)]

5.32        Jehoviah's Witnesses were subject to a particularly negative press campaign in the port city of Burgas. In addition to the action taken by police in Burgas to break up gatherings of Jehoviah's Witnesses in February 1998 police also confiscated religious books and leaflets. Mormons reported several incidents of police harassment in 1998. Although incidents involving police took place throughout the country, official harassment was worst in the cities of Burgas and Plovdiv where local authorities disregarded the law by arbitrarily denying Mormons the right to proselytize and to have a legally registered place of residence. These incidents lend credence to charges by humans rights observers that the police are monitoring and interfering with the activities of many religious groups. [2(c)]

vi)          Main Religions:

5.33        Christianity:

Most of the population of Bulgaria profess Christianity, the main denomination being the Bulgarian Orthodox Church whose adherents amount to over 80% of the population.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church: founded in 865.

Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church: which had some 20,000 adherents in 1996.

5.34        The Bulgarian Orthodox Church are deeply divided following a seven-year rift between Patriarch Maxim (whose reputation has been tarnished by his association with the communist regime) and a rival synod headed by Bishop Pimen (quietly supported by the current government). The dispute has damaged considerably the name of the Church in Bulgaria. After an apparently successful Pan-Orthodox Convention of clergy on 1-3 October 1998 Pimen and followers agreed to re-joing Maxim's synod and to cancel a proposed All-Nation Convention of Clergy and People due to take place on 20 October. However some of Pimen's reformist colleagues were not willing to compromise and the Convention went ahead and proposed amongst other things a new church statute and the retirement of Maxim. Maxim angrily denounced the Convention's authority and refuses to resign but is increasingly beleaguered. Although the government is openly opposed to Maxim, it encouraged the feuding factions to heal the prolonged rift but by the end of 1998 such efforts had not met with any success. [13(u)] & [2(c)]

5.35        The Roman Catholic Church:

Bulgarians may be adherents of either the Latin (Western) Rite, which is organized into two dioceses, or the Byzantine-Slav (Eastern) Rite (one diocese). All three dioceses are directly responsible to the Holy See (Vatican).

Western Rite:

Bishop of Nikopol: which had some 25,000 adherents in 1994.

Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv: which had some 35,000 followers in 1994.

Eastern Rite:

Apostolic Exarch of Sofia: which had some 30,000 adherents in 1993.

5.36        The Protestant Churches:

Bulgarian Church of God: which had some 30,000 adherents in 1992.

Bulgarian Evangelical Church of God: which had 300 adherents in 1992.

Bulgarian Evangelical Methodist Episcopal Church: which had 1,000 adherents in 1994.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bulgaria: which was formed in 1991 and had 64 adherents in 1992.

Open Biblical Confraternity: which was formed in 1991.

Union of the Churches of the Seventh-day Adventists: which had 6,200 adherents in 1994.

Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches: which had 2,500 adherents in 1993.

Union of Evangelical Congregational Churches: which had 4,000 adherents in 1992.

Union of Evangelical Pentecostal Churches: which was formed in 1928 and had 30,000 adherents in 1991.

Universal White Fraternity: formed in 1990 and unifies with the principles of Christianity with the arts and sciences. It had more that 6,000 adherents in 1994.

5.37        Islam:

Supreme Muslim Theological Council: adherents are estimated at around 9% of the Bulgarian population, with approximately 708 acting regional imams (see also Turks, paragraph 7.6).

5.38        Judaism:

Central Jewish Theological Council: which had some 5,000 adherents in 1992. There is a synagogue situated in Sofia.

[1] & [19]

See also Annex G which gives a list of registered religions as at January 1997.

vii)         Ethnic Minority Groups (General):

5.39        The National Council on Ethnic and Demographic Issues was founded in December 1997. This organisation serves as an advisory group to the Council of Ministers and reports directly to it. In April 1998, it stated it would study the state of the Roma community. [2(c)]

5.40        In June 1998 Prime Minister Kostov announced that his UDF party would draft a long-term programme to integrate ethnic and religious minorities into the country's socio-political and economic life. But criticism has been levelled at the omission of any explicit reference to "minorities" in the Bulgarian Constitution, rather all references are to "Bulgarian citizens". However Parliament ratified the Council of Europe's Minorities Convention on 18 February 1999. Prime Minister Kostov said Bulgaria has now "buried now and forever nationalism as an antipode to democracy and the last mainstay of communism" Criticism was voiced however at the omission of a definition of national minority within the convention. [18(t)

5.41        In addition, there are constitutional and statutory restrictions that limit the right of association and meaningful participation in the political process. For example, the Constitution forbids the formation of political parties along religious, ethnic, or racial lines has the effect of circumscribing access to the political party process for some groups particularly those Roma who have expressed a desire to create their own party. [2(c)]

5.42        Whilst the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) is represented in Parliament commensurate with their proportion of the population, there are no Roma members of Parliament and both groups are under-represented in appointed governmental positions especially leadership positions. There are only a few ethnic Turkish, Pomak or Roma officers in the military and an insignificant number of high-ranking officers of the Muslim faith. [2(c)]

viii)        Turks:

5.43        Ethnic Turks comprise about 10% of the population. In the final years of the Zhivkov Communist regime, Bulgaria's ethnic Turks were targets of assimilation policies that required them to adopt Bulgarian names, limit their religious activity and refrain from speaking Turkish in public. This assimilation programme was not restricted to the ethnic Turks but included other Muslim groups, including the Roma and the Bulgarian Muslims (Pomaks). [2(b)] & [8]

5.44        Zhivkov's fall signalled an improvement in the situation for Bulgaria's Turks. The new government's attitude towards minorities was more democratic and even sympathetic. The policy of forcing Muslim minorities to adopt Slavic names was rescinded in March 1990 and within a year 600,000 people had reverted to their original names.There are no restrictions on speaking Turkish in public. In 1993 the government put five former state security officials on trial for using unnecessary force and for detaining ethnic Turks in a make-shift labour camp in the town of Ruse in 1989. This marked the first time civil servants were held accountable for their actions during the assimilation programme of the 1980s. In July 1997 President Stoyanov apologized to the Turkish and Muslim community for this Communist-era "Regeneration Process". [2(c)] & [8]

5.45        Voluntary Turkish-language classes in public schools, funded by the government, continued in areas with significant Turkish-speaking populations in 1998, although some observers complained that the government was discouraging the optional language classes in areas with large concentrations of Bulgarian Muslims. According to Ministry of Education figures, 40,000 children now study Turkish. Some ethnic Turkish leaders, mainly in the MRF, demanded that Turkish-language schooling be made compulsory in ethnic Turkish areas, but the government has resisted this. [2(c)]

5.46        In 1994, a report claimed that over 920 Mosques were active in the country and that religious literature, including the Koran, is published in the Turkish language. The ethnic Turkish minority has over the years made significant strides in the areas of cultural expression and identity. This includes representation in Parliament (15 MPs after the 1997 elections). [6]

5.47        Delegates to the first national conference of the initiative council for innovation of the Movement for Rights & Freedoms [MRF of the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria] constituted a national movement for rights and freedom on 12 December 1998. Guyner Tahir a former MP of the MRF and now MP of the United Democratic Forces [DDF in the Government Constitution] was elected leader. According to Tahir, the organisation has 55% of the members of the MRF and will represent all ethnic groups in the country. [18(o)]

5.48        UNHCR: In correspondence dated 23 September 1997, UNHCR commented that "in light of the changes in the country and protection provided to this ethnic group, refugee status cannot be justified on account of mere membership in this ethnicity". [6]

5.49        Relations with Turkey: On 29 July 1997, the Bulgarian President Petur Stoyanov met with the Turkish deputy prime minister in the new coalition government. At the talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, President Petur Stoyanov noted that there are all conditions for the promotion of the relations between the two countries. "With his visit to Turkey, Bulgaria's President achieved far more than was expected" Ismail Cem said. Minister Cem told Stoyanov that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has taken concrete measures on the problems discussed about the River Rezovo and the bringing together of separated families especially the ones with children under the age of 18. It was also decided to set up contact groups with the Turkish Foreign Ministry which would promote bilateral relations in various fields. Stoyanov also met with Necmettin Erbakan, leader of the largest Turkish opposition formation, the [Islamist] Welfare Party, who stated that Bulgaria should be removed from the Organisation of Islamic Conference list of states violating Muslim rights. He voiced his confidence that the repressions against the Bulgarian Turks will not be repeated. [10(e)]

5.50        Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has said that Turkey supports Bulgaria's application to join the EU and wants to increase its trade with Bulgaria. He also expressed the belief that Bulgaria would speedily resolve the problem of Bulgarian Turks. The visiting Bulgarian President, Petur Stoyanov, apologised to the Bulgarian Turks for their suffering under Communism. Turkish and Bulgarian ministers also signed four agreements on issues related to the early warning of nuclear accidents, tourism, environment and the construction of a new motorway and a border crossing. [10(f)]

5.51        Demirel said that an agreement had also been reached between the two countries on co-operation in the fields of defence and military training. He further said that the two countries should conclude a cultural agreement to preserve the historic monuments in both countries. Noting that the two countries were in full agreement on the issue of the fight against drug smuggling and terrorism, Demirel added that Stoyanov's visit would give a new impetus to bilateral relations. Recalling Stoyanov's statement that the new Bulgarian regime attached importance to democracy and human rights, Demirel expressed the belief that the problems of our kinsmen living in Bulgaria would be speedily solved. [10(f)]

(See also Instruments of State, the General Political System pargraphs 4.1 - 4.12)

vix)         Roma (Gypsies):

5.52        According to a census carried out by the government in December 1992, about 300,000 people were identified as Roma, representing approximately 3.7% of the population. This figure may be higher, since many persons of Roma descent tend to identify themselves to the authorities as ethnic Turks or Bulgarians, indeed the US State Department Report sets this figure at 6 or 7%. Roma groups continue to be divided among themselves, although several groups have had some success presenting Roma issues to the government. In August 1998 a Roma community centre was opened in a Sofia neighbourhood with Vice-President Todor Kavaldjiev in attendance [2(b)], [2(c)] & [8]

5.53        While on a national level, all citizens are granted constitutional protection against such arbitrary practices as illegal detention, search and seizure and cruel or inhuman treatment and torture, incidents on the local level are known to occur. Human Rights Watch/ Helsinki indicated that the government have not provided adequate protection in these areas to Roma. The organisation reported that police frequently are either the perpetrators of violence against Roma or they fail to intervene when attacks are instigated. [5]

5.54        As individuals and as an ethnic group, Roma faced high levels of discrimination in 1998 and attacks by private citizens on Roma continued. Police harassed, physically abused, and arbitrarily arrested Roma street children. Little progress had been made during 1998 in cases of violence against Roma during previous years which are largely still at an investigatory stage. Roma also encountered difficulties applying for social benefits, and rural Roma were discouraged from claiming land to which they are entitled under the law disbanding agricultural collectives. Many Roma and other observers made credible allegations that the quality of education offered to Roma children is inferior to that afforded most other students. The government has been largely unsuccessful in attracting and keeping many Roma children in school.Poverty is also to blame for widespread truancy of Roma children as many cannot afford shoes or basic school supplies and turn to begging, prostitution and petty crimes on the streets.[2(c)]

5.55        In a report dated June 1996 Amnesty International commented that many of the victims of beatings and other ill-treatment by police officers are Roma and that racist prejudices and a lack of concern for the Roma community are evident throughout the region. In several places in Bulgaria, Roma have become victims of mob violence, resulting in lynching, destruction of property, sexual harassment of women and expulsion from neighbourhoods. "Skinheads" and other racist organisations have singled Roma out as their particular target.[3] & [8][4(c)]

5.56        UNHCR: In their letter of 20 September 1995, UNHCR stated that despite the drastic political changes and considerable improvements in the field in human rights in Central European countries, the respect for human rights, and for minority rights, is still not well developed and abuses occur. However, UNHCR added that on balance, their assessment is that for a Roma asylum seeker to be recognized, he/she would need to provide particularly strong and credible elements. [14]This advice was reiterated in September 1997: "although ethnic Roma as a group do not appear to be, at present, subject to persecution under the 1951 Convention, special attention should nevertheless be paid to individual claims and any additional elements". Workplace discrimination continued to be a problem for Roma during 1998 justified by employers on the basis that Roma have only elementary education and little training.[2(c)].

5.57        UNHCR reported that, due to widespread labour discriminatory practices against this group, Roma are at times the first to lose their jobs. 70% of the Roma community are believed to be jobless.Supervisory jobs are generally given to ethnic Bulgarian employees, with ethnic Turks, Bulgarian Muslims, and Roma among the first to be laid off. [2(a)], [2(b)], [6] & [8],[10(j)]

5.58        Because many of the Roma are unemployed and uneducated, many resort to prostitution, gambling and begging and live in ghettoes such as the Maglish at the bottom of of the social heap.[10(j)].

5.59        During compulsory military service most Roma were shunted into units where they often perform commercial, military construction or maintenance work rather than serve in normal units. The MRF (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) have protested this practice, as did human rights groups and labour observers who cited it as a violation of International Labour Organisation (ILO) accords. There are only a few ethnic Turkish and Roma officers in the military. [2(a)]

5.60        In addition to numerous communal, ethnic, human rights and educational organisations, gypsies in Bulgaria have their own trade union called Support for Roma established to protect their social interests[10(k)].

5.61        Under a project of the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) funded by the Open Society the gipsy minority will get greater access to radio and television. A study was made during the period August 1997 to January 1998 when the presence of various ethnic, religious, gay and social minorities was monitored in the national newspapers. The analysis of the image of the different groups was shown to be very negative. The first stage of the project will focus on gypsies and homosexual minority groups[10(m)].

unity. [2(c)].

x)           Bulgarian Muslims (Pomaks):

5.63        Pomaks constitute a religious minority who are Slavic in origin and recognise Bulgarian as their mother tongue, but who are followers of Islam. Pomaks have fought to maintain a separate identity from ethnic Turks and the issue of forced Turkification has been raised on several occasions. The results from the 1992 census were invalidated in two towns due to charges that Bulgarian Muslims were pressured into recording themselves as ethnic Turks.[5]

5.64        Predominantly from rural and agricultural areas, the Pomaks have suffered disproportionately from economic decline and unemployment. Like ethnic Turks they tend to experience greater discrimination in the workplace.[5]

5.65        It was reported in a left-wing paper that since 1990, fundamentalist groups have been proselytising more among Bulgarian Muslims than in undertaking charitable work operating under the cover of foundations. The Muslim Brothers are one of the most active groups of these groups, reportedly banned in many other countries but whose emissaries first appeared in Bulgaria in 1992-93. The group have targeted Bulgarian Muslims in an attempt to unite into a single community Muslims from Yugoslav republics through Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece to Istanbul. The final goal of the Muslim Brothers is to create states governed according to the laws of Islam. [18(s)](See also Religious Freedoms & Minorities 5.21 - 5.33).

xi)          Ethnic Macedonians:

5.66        Thousands of Bulgarians, mainly in the south-west, identify themselves as Macedonians, most for historical and geographic reasons. Members of the two organizations that purport to defend their interests, Omo-Ilinden and Umo-Ilinden, are believed to number in the hundreds. The Government have refused since 1990 to register a self-proclaimed Macedonian rights group, Omo-Ilinden, on the grounds that it is separatist. In February and May of 1996, police broke up attempts the by group to hold public meetings. On May 14 1996, the group was denied registration as an educational organisation in the city of Blagoevgrad. (see also Freedom of Assembly and Association, paragraphs 6.10 - 6.14) [2(a)] & [2(b)]

5.67        Since November 1989 the government does not recognise Macedonians as a distinct ethnic group and the group is not enumerated in official government statistics. , (and during the last decades of the Communist regime) all Bulgarian governments have refused to recognise Macedonian ethnicity not only within the country, but also in the former Republic of Macedonia, treating instead the Slavic-speaking population there as ethnically Bulgarian. [8]

5.68        According to the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Bulgarians share similar physical characteristics and lifestyles and ethnic Macedonians "face discriminations only after they declare their Macedonian self-identity". [6]

5.69        As Macedonians cannot be identified among the Bulgarian population either by their physical characteristics or by their lifestyle, nor even by their "language" (some Macedonians claim a separate Macedonian language and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this is the accepted position, but in Bulgaria it is considered a dialect of Bulgarian), therefore any discrimination against Macedonians is based on the declaration of Macedonian identity. All major political parties deny the existence of a separate Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. This is because the Bulgarians consider the Macedonians to be Bulgarians (based on historical justification). Krasimir Kanev of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has claimed that the proclamation of Macedonian identity can lead to discrimination in the education system.[13(i)]

5.70        In the December 1992 census, 6,000 people in the Pirin Macedonia region described themselves as Macedonian (rather than Bulgarian) and 700 described their mother tongue as "Macedonian". These results were annulled by the state authorities who did not recognise the existence of a separate Macedonian minority. The population of Pirin Macedonia, based on figures from the last census in 1992, is about 360,000. This could be described as both Bulgarian and Macedonian! To explain this paradox, it is necessary to look at the historical context. [13(i)] & [13(o)]

5.71        As Turkish rule in the Balkans drew to a close, there were two strands of thinking about the Slavs in the historical region of Macedonia: some thought they were a branch of the Bulgarian nation, and should be unified with Bulgaria, while others thought there was a distinct Macedonian people who should have their own state. Since the end of Turkish rule early this century, the people either side of the border have developed in different directions. The people of what is now FYROM have developed a sense of distinct national identity, whereas the people in Pirin Macedonia have come to see themselves as a part of the Bulgarian nation, but with a special regional identity which they call Macedonian. (Both processes were particularly accelerated after 1945.) [13(o)]

5.72        A small minority in Pirin Macedonia still think of themselves as ethnically separate from the Bulgarians - hence the 6-7,000 who identified themselves as such in the 1992 census. The rest of the population would see themselves as ethnically Bulgarian, but also proudly Macedonian in the same way that proud Yorkshire folk are also patriotically English. [13(o)]

5.73        Macedonian Organizations: Organizations of Macedonians in Bulgaria appeared immediately following the fall of the Communist regime. Some were reincarnations of historic organisation such as the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) which was founded at the end of the 19th Century. Some were new - such as the Organisation of Macedonian Societies (UMO or OMO) which was formed in November 1989. Its main objective was "to protect the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria" both through the development of Macedonian culture and through political representation. The association included members from Sofia and from several towns in the Pirin Macedonia - a region in the South-West of Bulgaria. The first president was Georgi Solunski from Sofia. In November 1989 the group organised its first rally in the capital. During the first months of 1990 the organisation expanded in the Pirin Macedonia region. Many local groups were formed and the centre of its activities gradually shifted to this region. [13(i)]

5.74        Internal wrangling within UMO quickly led to the creation of a splinter group call UMO-Illinden which was based in Pirin Macedonia. Illinden means St Elijah's day - referring to the disastrous, but heroic uprising against the Ottoman Turks on 2 August 1903. Stoyan Georgiev from Petrich was elected as its new president. He was later replaced by Yordan Konstandinov from Sadanski. The splintering of UMO emphasised the political divisions within it. Solunski, in Sofia, took over the activities of a more moderate cultural wing, while the Pirin organisation - UMO-Illinden - was more radical and began to adopt separatist demands. These included, inter alia, calls for the withdrawal of Bulgarian "occupation troops" from the Pirin region, and for the transfer of the local Orthodox church from the authority of the Bulgarian Church to the Macedonian Orthodox Church in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The increasing radicalism of some of its members brought about another split in October 1994. Konstadinov continued to lead the radical faction. [13(i)]

5.75        In the first months after the downfall of the Communist regime Macedonian organisations were permitted to organise freely. On 22 April 1990 UMO-Illinden organised a celebration at the Rozhen monastery of the anniversary of the death of Sadanski, a legendary figure claimed by both Bulgarians and Macedonians. Up to 4,000 people participated. But since then the organisation has suffered repression. In 1990 UMO-Illinden applied for legal status as a civil, non-profit organisation, but was rejected by both the District Court in Blagoevgrad (capital of Pirin Macedonia) and by the Supreme Court. It was listed as a proscribed organisation; because it is considered anti-constitutional because of its separatist aims which threaten the territorial integrity of Bulgaria; and because the formation of political parties along ethnic lines is forbidden by the constitution. UMO-Illinden has suffered increasing repression from the early 1990s. During this time its newspaper "Sobuzdane" (Awakening) has been confiscated on three occasions (most recently in April 1993). UMO members have been prevented, often by violence on the part of the police, from organising and attending rallies, public meetings etc. [13(i)]

5.76        UMO-Illinden is the political vehicle of the minority who proclaim Macedonian ethnicity. It is certainly the largest of the illegal Macedonian organisations although claims of a membership of 10,000 are said to be exaggerated and could be at least halved. The organization's leaders are Kiril Ivanov (president), Vladimir Kotselov (chairman of the Central Inspection Committee) and Angel Shapkov (secretary). On 2 August 1997, the organization issued a memorandum demanding that the cultural and education rights for the Macedonian language, as well as various political demands, but not autonomy for Pirin Macedonia. However, on 30 September 1997, UMO-Ilinden demanded that the region should secede from Bulgarian by 10 August 1998. [13(i)] & [13(o)]

5.77        There is a wide-spread popular resistance to UMO in Bulgaria and even in Pirin Macedonia the census results suggest that it cannot enjoy significant support. Up to one third of Bulgarians claim Macedonian antecedents (either in FYROM or in Pirin Macedonia) but they in no way consider that this makes them less Bulgarian, in fact this can be entirely the reverse. The leading legal Macedonian organisation - IMRO is vehemently opposed to the ideology and aims of UMO-Illinden and considers itself the guardian of Bulgarian ethnicity in general, not just with regard to Macedonia. [13(i)]

5.78        The National Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (VMRO) is almost certainly the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) which was founded in 1893. The two acronyms are interchangeable although IMRO is by far the more common. [13(g)]

5.79        The Macedonian Question came to prominence at the end of last century. The two main Macedonian organisations in the state of Bulgaria were the Supreme Committee who saw Macedonian autonomy as a prelude to absorption into Bulgaria (still not officially a nation until 1896) and IMRO (or VMRO) which, whilst it recognised close cultural affinities between Bulgarians and Macedonian Slavs, did not want to be included in the Bulgarian State. IMRO's main goal was to achieve autonomy for Macedonia which would then become part of a Balkan federation. Throughout its history, but especially up to 1934, IMRO has used terrorist tactics (including literally hundreds of assassinations in the twenties and thirties) to try and achieve its goals. In 1934 the Bulgarian Government suppressed IMRO but never quite managed to destroy it although it never again gained the same power and prominence. [13(g)]

5.80        In Bulgaria today there are several groups who use the acronym IMRO which has an important, romantic symbolism attached to it. The various groups claim to be the direct successors of the original IMRO. The main group is IMRO-UMS - The International Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Union of Macedonian Societies which was founded in 1991 and claims that it seeks to implement the ideals of its predecessor, although it is not separatist as the original IMRO was. It has forsworn the use of violence and bases itself on moderate cultural objectives. It is a registered organisation and broadly supportive of the government except over the government's policy of non-recognition of the Republic of Macedonia as a nation.

5.81        There is nothing to show that the present IMRO-UMS suffers harassment from the authorities, unlike the more radical, separatist UMO (also referred to as IMRO) which is banned, and have had their meetings broken up by the police. [13(g)]

5.82        The TMO-IMRO-Ilinden is a pro-Macedonian organization which was allowed to register in June 1992, but whose registration was cancelled by the Supreme Court in April 1993, on procedural grounds. Representatives of the Prosecutor's Office reportedly described this decision as a "correction of a mistake", meaning that any kind of pro-Macedonian organization should never have been allowed to register. [13(o)]

(See also Instruments of State, General Political System paragraphs 4.1 - 4.12).

xii)         Vlachs:

5.83        The Vlachs are one of the oldest peoples inhabiting the Balkans but their origins have been the cause of much inconclusive debate. The Vlachs were traditionally nomadic cattle breeders found in several Balkan countries. Over the course of this century their way of life has changed not least because of the restriction on movement imposed by modern bureaucratic states (in particular the socialist ones). [13(k)]

5.84        Bulgaria's Vlachs are found along the Danube in the Dorbrudzha, where they were settled from Macedonia by the Romanian Government when it controlled that region from 1912 (the Second Balkan War) to 1940. They are also found along the Timok River near the border with Serbia. Most are relatively assimilated. It is thought that they might be descendants of the Dacians (inhabitants of Transylvania who inter-bred with Roman legions). They speak a Latin language akin to Romanian, and maintain links with Romania, sending students to study there. An association of Vlachs is legally registered in Vidin, representing Vlachs from other parts of the country as well. It was set up some 4-5 years ago, and is headed by Ivan Alexandrov. They have a newspaper called Timpul (meaning "The Times"), published in Vidin. [13(j)]& [13(k)]

5.85        The Vlachs do not appear to have experienced any serious problems with the Bulgarian authorities. They have campaigned to get their language taught in schools but the Ministry of Education have refused. This has been the case with all of Bulgaria's minorities although the Turkish minority have made some progress because of its size (around 8% to 10% of the population). [13(d)]

5.86        There is also no evidence of Vlachs experiencing difficulties with "ordinary" Bulgarians. For the most part they have assimilated into the Slav majority. However, speaking their language openly in the Dobrudzha might occasionally cause some hostility. [13(d)]

5.87        According to a census conducted in December 1992, there are 5,159 Vlachs in Bulgaria. The Vlachs do not look very different to Bulgarians, but would be identified as Vlachs by other Bulgarians because their names are not Slav names. When they speak their own language, this should identify them to Bulgarians as Vlachs or Aromans. They are entirely different from the Ruthenians who are a branch of the Ukrainian people. [13(d)]

5.88        It should be noted that the precise definition of who is a Vlach can vary from area to area throughout the Balkans. To many Balkan Slavs, a Vlach is merely a Romanian-speaker who lives outside Romania; elsewhere the term is used to describe transhumant shepherds, without necessarily denoting particular ethnic origins. [13(k)]

xiii)        The Aromans (also known as Kutsovlachs):

5.89        The Aromans, who are spread all over the Balkans, numbered 2,491 in Bulgaria in the 1992 census. They are sometimes called Kutsovlachs. They are thought to be descended from the Thracians, but also speak a (different) dialect akin to Romanian. They mostly live in large towns including Sofia. There is an Aroman dictionary. They have an association (Druzhestvo) of Aromans in Bulgaria, based in Sofia, headed by Toma Kyurkchiev. [13(j)]

5.90        Aromans have tried to get their languages taught in schools, but the Ministry of Education refuses. [13(j)]

xiv)         The Karakachani:

5.91        The Karakachani, most of whom live in the Rodopi mountains in the south of Bulgaria, tend to speak an old form of Greek and claim to be Greeks. They are thought also to be descendants of the Thracians. [13(j)]

xv)          Monarchists:

5.92        The "Kingdom of Bulgaria" Confederation was established in July 1991. Its policy objectives include the restoration of the Turnovo Constitution (of 1879) and of ex-King Simeon as head of state. It supports the transformation of Bulgaria into a stable democracy based on the rule of law and on the principles of a market economy, a modern developed agriculture and integration into the European economic system. The Confederation was reportedly run in 1991/92 by a confederative council comprising the nine chairmen of its constituent organisations. There is no information on the current leadership of the Confederation, but a July 1995 report describes one Khristo Kurtev as leader of the monarchists. [13(h)]

5.93        The Confederation appears to be of only marginal political importance. In the October 1991 National Assembly elections they failed to reach the 4% threshold needed for parliamentary representation; but they polled 100,883 votes and their share of the vote (1.82%) was one of the more respectable failures. This performance was reportedly an improvement on their share of the vote in the 1990 elections to the Grand National Assembly, but there is no detailed information on the performance of the minor parties in those elections. For his party, Simeon has not identified himself with, nor distanced himself from, any of the pro-monarchy groups. [13(h)]

5.94        A total of seven pro-monarchist parties reportedly ran in the December 1994 parliamentary elections. One report indicates that there was a coalition contesting the elections called the Federation "Kingdom of Bulgaria", comprising the Bulgarian Democratic Constitutional Party, the Democratic Movement for Constitutional Monarchy and the Kingdom of Bulgaria Federation (the relationship of this coalition to the earlier Confederation is unclear, but they could be one and the same organisation). Monarchist organisations reportedly polled a total of 3%, but it is not clear if they were all fighting under the same banner. The Confederation "Kingdom of Bulgaria" has thus never had any seats in parliament, but it has been registered in the past as a political party. [13(h)]

xvi)         Muslims:

5.95        A long-running feud in the Muslim community ended in October 1997. Until then many Muslims viewed the government's recognition of Nedim Gendjev as Chief Mufti to be interference in their affairs. Many members of the ethnic Turkish minority viewed Gendjev as a collaborator with the "Regeneration Process" of the Zhivkov regime in the 1980's, during which many ethnic-Turkish citizens were intimidated into exchanging their Turkish names for Bulgarian ones. The government continued to refuse to recognize the election of a rival Chief Mufti, Fikri Sali, who was elected at an alternative Islamic conference in 1995. In late October 1997, the leadership of the Muslim community participated in a unification conference organized by the government and elected a new Mufti, Mustafa Alish Hadji, who was found acceptable by the majority of supporters of both former rival muftis. The government thereupon registered both Hadji and the new statutes of the Muslim leadership as adopted by the conference. [2(b)]

5.96        During compulsory military service most Muslims are placed in construction units where they often perform commercial or maintenance work rather than serve in normal military units. The mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) protested this practice. [2(c)] (See also Bulgarian Muslims (Pomacks) 5.61 - 5.62)

xvii)        Jews:

5.97        Reports claim that historically anti-Semitism has had little support in Bulgaria, noting that Bulgaria was one of the few Nazi allies which refused to surrender its Jews during World War II. [6]

5.98        There have been isolated anti-Semitic incidents which were not supported by the government. When anti-Semitic slogans were found on the walls of a synagogue and a Jewish school in April 1995, President Zhelev told a visiting delegation of Israeli deputies that such provocations "are the work of a small group and the Bulgarian public firmly condemns such acts". Police mounted an investigation to find those responsible for the vandalism and the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement condemning all acts of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. [6] & [8]

xviii)       Kurds:

5.99        Following the extradition of Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan to Turkey in March 1999 and Kurdish demonstrations all over Europe, although only a peaceful one in Bulgaria, Prime Minister Kostov announced it would follow the stance of EU countries in their approach to Kurdish matters. He reported that Bulgaria would deal uncompromisingly with terrorism but would not regard every Kurd as a terrorist. he believed that the Patriotic Union of Kurdish Students and the Bulgarian Cultural & Information Centre on Kurdistan were pursuing a moderate line and advocating a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem. [18(m)]

VI.       OTHER ISSUES

A.          Freedom of Speech and the Press:

6.1          The Bulgarian Constitution in Articles 39, 40 and 41 guarantees freedom of speech and press. For most of the year, the legal situation for the media (beyond the constitutional provisions) remained unclear. But with the passage of the media law in November 1998 the situation in the electronic media was finally regularised after years of uncertainty. How well the law functions will become clearer during 1999 when new licenses for frequencies are issued. Considerable concern remains among the media that the controlling boards established under this law and the law on telecommunications are not free of political control by the parliamentary majority party. Despite previous legal uncertainties, the broadcast media operated reasonably freely. Nevertheless, there were accusations of political censorship in February 1998 when an episode of the satirical television programme "Hushlove" (Bulgarian for exiles or outcasts) was cancelled immediately following a critical and unflattering portrayal of the Government. Although the reason given by the director of Bulgarian National Television (BNT) for the show's cancellation was alleged failure to comply with advertising rules, others charged that the cancellation was a politically motivated vendetta. [2(c)]

6.2          In 1990 the press laws were liberalised, and many publications, hitherto banned, became freely available. A large number of independent publications were subsequently established. A variety of newspapers are published freely by political parties and other organizations representing the full spectrum of political opinion, although journalists frequently colour their reports to conform with the views of the political parties or economic groups that own their respective newspapers but among media professionals in the the broader public, the belief persists that the Government exerts an unduly large influence on the media through official channels ie the Radio and Television Council and unofficially by influencing advertisers not to use the media outlets that criticize Government officials and policies. However there is little evidence to substantiate Government intimidation although according to Human Rights Watch, an NGO, 11 violent attacks were carried out against media representatives which included physical assaults and bombings, in an attempt, it is thought to intimidate journalists investigating corruption. [1] & [2(c)]

6.3          Libel is punishable under the Criminal Code, and several human rights organisations, as well as a majority of the journalistic community, believe that prosecutors use their authority to issue arrest warrants to intimidate free expression in the press, particularly when such criticism is critical of the Prosecutor's Office. This law has been used sparingly in recent years, but there have been two cases in the last two years when reporters have been convicted of libel and sentenced to prison terms or large fines. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's Observation Committee announced in August 1998 that it would review problems with media independence. [2(c)]

6.4          Radio and television are supervised by the Committee for Television and Radio of the Committee for Culture of the Council of Ministers. [1] On 18 June 1998, the Bulgarian Parliament passed on first reading, by 130 votes to 90, a new bill on radio and television. All except the ruling United Democratic Forces coalition voted against. This follows the passing at first reading, on 17 June 1998, of the bill on telecommunications (126 votes for), which set out the concessions regime for radio frequencies. The opposition voted against because private radio and television stations will need both concessions and licences, and both will be subject to approval by the Council of Ministers. Hence the executive has full control over the media. (In the "Free Speech" draft, licences would be issued by an independent body). Also the statute of the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT) is not as independent as it should be. Moreover the radio and television bill precludes broadcasts in languages other than Bulgarian on National Television and Radio (although this may not apply to their regional broadcasts). Questions have been raised about funding too as private broadcasters complain that they will be at a hopeless disadvantage.

The bill will now have to be reconsidered in Parliament. [2(c)] &[13(u)].

6.5          In the meantime there are two state-owned national television channels have nationwide coverage. The Government announced plans to close down one of the channels in the Autumn of 1998 and privatize it. Although privatization has yet to occur, the second channel implemented a gradual showdown of its own programming, reducing original news production to 5 minutes per day and broadcasting archived programmes and old movies for the rest of the time. However there is limited radio broadcasting in Turkish on the national radio's local affiliates in regions where there is a sizeable Turkish-speaking population. [2(c)]

6.6          Foreign government radio programmes such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Deutsche Welle, and the Voice of America have good access to commercial radio frequencies. Television and radio news programmes on the state-owned media present opposition views, but opposition members claim that their activities and views are given less air time and exposure than the those of the ruling party. There are no formal restrictions on programming. Both television and radio provide a variety of news and public interest programming, including talk and public opinion shows. [2(c)]

6.7          More than 30 independent radio stations are licensed. Most of them have licences but due to the fact that the new media law has yet to be implemented these stations are technically illegal as their licences have expired and there are no means by which to renew them. Some private stations complain that the strength of their transmissions is restricted unduly with the result that they cannot compete fully with national (state-owned) radio. All transmission facilities are owned by the central Government. [2(c)]

6.8          Private book publishing remains unhindered by political considerations.[2(c)]

6.9          The government respects academic freedom. [2(c)]

B.           Freedom of Assembly and Association:

6.10        The right to peaceful assembly is provided for by the Constitution, and the government respects this right in practice. The authorities require permits for rallies and assemblies held outdoors, but most legally registered organizations were routinely granted permission to assemble. Political rallies and demonstrations were a common occurrence in 1998 and took place without Government interference although police broke up a public demonstration organised by the self-proclaimed Macedonian group OMO-Ilinden in April 1998. The mayor of Sofia also banned a similar demonstration by the same group the following August. [2(c)]

6.11        The government has undertaken to respect the rights of individuals and groups freely to establish their own political parties or other political organizations. However, there are constitutional and statutory restrictions that limit the right of association and meaningful participation in the political process. For example, Article 11(4) of the Constitution forbids the formation of political parties along religious, ethnic, or racial lines and prohibits "citizens' associations" from engaging in political activity. This provision is designed to prevent the development of parties based on a single ethnic or other group that could prove divisive for national unity by stirring up ethnic tension for political purposes. This has led to the restriction of freedom and association of certain Bulgarian citizens who identify themselves as ethnic Macedonians. [2(b)] & [8]

6.12        However the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) is predominantly a Turkish and Muslim party, it is not exclusively so and at one time its chair was Jewish. The fact that it is predominantly a Turkish and Muslim party has caused problems. In 1991, when the BSP led the government, some of its members tried to have the MRF's registration as a political party revoked, citing Article 11(4). In 1996 a group of parliamentarians within the Socialist-led coalition filed a challenge to the MRF's constitutionality, alleging that MRF's programme and goals threatened Bulgaria's territorial integrity and national unity. The Constitutional Court rejected their petition as inadmissible. Nonetheless, the MRF is represented in the National Assembly. The other major political parties generally accept the MRF's right to participate in the political process. [2(b)] & [8]

6.13        The Constitution also prohibits organizations that threaten the country's territorial integrity or unity or that incite racial, ethnic, or religious hatred. The government has refused since 1990 to register a self-proclaimed Macedonian rights group, Omo-Ilinden, on the grounds that it is separatist. In April 1998 and again in August 1998, police broke up attempts by the group to hold public meetings. There were no known prosecutions for simple membership of this group. [2(b)] (See also Ethnic Macedonians, paragraphs 5.63 - 5.79).

6.14        Organisations that threaten the territorial integrity, national unity or that incite racial, ethnic or religious hatred are also prohibited by the Constitution. [2(a)]

C.          Worker's Rights:

6.15        The 1991 Constitution provides for the right of all workers to form or join trade unions of their own choice, and this right was apparently freely exercised in 1998. Estimates of the unionized share of the work force range from 30 to 50%. This share continues to shrink as large firms lay off workers, and most new positions appear in small, non-unionized businesses. [2(b)]

6.16        There are two large trade union confederations in Bulgaria, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), and Podkrepa. CITUB, the successor to the trade union controlled by the former Communist regime, operates as an independent entity. Podkrepa, an independent confederation created in 1989, was one of the earliest opposition forces but is no longer a member of the Union of Democratic Forces, formerly the main opposition party and now in government. In 1995 a third trade union confederation, the Community of Free Union Organizations in Bulgaria (CFOUB), was admitted to the National Tripartite Co-ordination Council (NTCC), which includes employers and the government. In 1996 a new self-described labour union/civic organization called "Promyana" (Bulgarian for "change") was founded with the explicit goal of removing the Bulgarian Socialist Party from power via early elections. Although never officially registered as a labour union, Promyana attracted members of various professions and trades to its ranks but was weakened by internal strife in mid-1998. [2(c)]

6.17        The Government passed a law requiring doctors and dentists to join a union that the Government established without consulting them. The law is unpopular with health care professionals, who see its inception as autocratic and who claim it violates the right to free association, but it has not been found illegal. Some claim the law violates the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87 on freedom on association and the right to organize. [2(c)]

6.18        Workers in essential services are prohibited from striking, but a common practice of such workers is to hold an "effective strike" in which they stop or slow their activities for an hour or two. [2(c)]

6.19        No evidence emerged that the government interfered with the right to strike, and several work stoppages took place. There was also an incident at a refinery in Pleven in March 1998 in which police intervened in a strike and some workers were hurt. The Labour Code's prohibitions against anti-union discrimination include a 6-month period of protection against dismissal as a form of retribution. While these provisions appear to be within international norms, there is no mechanism other than the courts for resolving complaints, and the burden of proof in such a case rests entirely on the employee. No restrictions exist on affiliation or contact with international labour organizations, and unions actively exercise this right. The Labour Code also institutes collective bargaining, which is practised nationally and on a local level. [2(c)]

6.20        The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labour, including that performed by children. However there were some reports of such practices.Many observers argued that the practice of shunting minority and conscientious-objector military draftees into work units that often carry out commercial construction and maintenance projects is a form of compulsory labour. [2(c)]

6.21        The Labour Code sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years; the minimum age for dangerous work is set at 18 years. Since children are not legally permitted to work, and the Constitution forbids forced or compulsory labour for all, forced and bonded labour by children is also forbidden by law. However, reports of such practices emerged during 1998.

Employers and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) are responsible for enforcing these provisions. Child labour laws are enforced well in the formal sector, but at least one child protection group believes that children are increasingly exploited in certain industries (especially small family-owned shops, construction, and periodical sales) and by organized crime (notably for prostitution and distribution of narcotics). According to a survey conducted by the MLSW in 1998, more than 50,000 children under the age of 16 are believed to be employed illegally. Dr Zhelyasko Hristov, president of the CITUB labour union, estimated the total number of illegally employed children as at least twice that number. In April 1998 the first-ever fine was imposed on an employer of illegal child labour. Underage employment in the informal and agricultural sectors is believed to be increasing as collective farms are broken up and the private sector continues to grow. In addition, children are known to work on family-owned tobacco farms. [2(c)]

6.22        The national monthly minimum wage at the close of 1998 was approximately $32 (53,500 Leva) which is not enough to provide a wage earner and family with a decent standard of living. Non-payment of wages and wage payments in arrears continue to be a problem with certain employers although the Government has made amelioration of this a priority. The Constitution stipulates the right to social security and welfare aid assistance for the temporarily unemployed, although in practice such assistance is often either late or not paid. [2(c)]

6.23        The Labour Code provides for a standard work-week of 40 hours with at least one 24-hour rest period per week. The MLSW is responsible for enforcing both the minimum wage and the standard work-week. Enforcement has been generally effective in the state sector but is weaker in the emerging private sector. A national labour safety programme exists, with standards established by the Labour Code. The Constitution stipulates that employees are entitled to healthy and nonhazardous working conditions. The MLSW is responsible for enforcing these provisions. Conditions in many cases worsened owing to the budget stringencies and a growing private sector that labour inspectors do not yet supervised effectively.[2(c)]

6.24        Protective clothing often is absent hazardous areas (goggles, for welders, helmets for construction workers etc), since employers often imply that payment for such measures would have to be deducted from the budget used to pay workers' wages. [2(c)]

6.24        The overall standard of living of workers stabilized in 1998 after suffering a severe downturn during the general economic decline in 1996 and 1997. The pervasive economic crisis and imminent, long-overdue privatizations continue to create a heightened fear of unemployment, leading to reluctance on the part of workers to pursue wage and safety demands. [2(c)]

D.          Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation:

6.25        The Constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country and the right to leave it, and these rights are not limited in practice, with the exception of limited border zones that are off limits both to foreigners and citizens not resident therein. Foreigners are also required to register with the police 48 hours after arrival in the country and cannot leave it without a stamp in the carte statisque given on arrival.In the first half of 1998 citizenship was restored to 286 applicants who had lost their citizenship during the communist era; 7 such applicants were refused on national security grounds. [2(b)] &[13(s)].

6.26        In November 1998 President Stoyanov voted the law on aliens over provisions that deny citizens the right to appeal refusal of a passport on national security grounds. Stoyanov stated that the bill violated human rights norms and after 45 years of international isolation the populace was sensitive to restrictions on foreign travel. Every citizen has the right to return to Bulgaria, may not be forcibly expatriated, and may not be deprived of citizenship acquired by birth. (See also Religious Freedoms & Minorities, paragraphs 5.25 - 5.33.) [2(c)]

E.           Military Service:

6.27        Military service is compulsory and lasts for 18 months. The total strength of the armed forces in August 1997 was 101,500 (including 49,300 conscripts), compromising of an army of 50,400; and air force of 19,300; and a navy of an estimated 6,100. There are also 22,300 centrally controlled staff and 3,400 Ministry of Defence staff. Paramilitary forces include an estimated 12,000 border guards, 18,000 railway and construction troops and 4,000 security police. [1(b)] The Chief of Bulgarian General Staff told journalists on 16 July 1998 that the army will be reduced by 10,000 people this year and by the year 2010 it will be 75,000 strong with 20,000 officers.[10(l)]

6.28        All men, citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria, fit for military service regardless of race, nationality, religion, social descent and family position, who are 18 years of age are liable for military service. The utmost age for recruiting for conscript military service is 30 years. [11]

6.29        The age-limit for military service is 30 years and the length of service is 18 months (12 months for university graduates). Students attending secondary schools may defer military service until they finish their education. However, they may not delay it past the age of 21 years. Young men studying at high schools and abroad may defer military service until the age of 26 years. [11]

6.30        Bulgarian citizens living abroad may also be eligible for military service, provided they are 26 years of age or under upon their return. In the case of two brothers qualifying for military service simultaneously, one may defer his conscription until his brother's end of service. Those who are medically unfit; and persons who are recognised as the ‘head of the family' where members of that family are permanently disabled may be exempted from miliary service. [11]

6.31        The National Assembly passed a law on alternatives to military service in October 1998 which entered into force on 1 January 1999. Under the law, alternative military service is twice as long as standard military service [which is 9 months for university students and 12 months for others]. It was passage of this legislation that led to the registration of Jehoviah's Witnesses. The law requires conscientious objectors to perform two-year alternative community service, double the effective term of conscription. Under the law, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy will appoint an alternative service commission. Community service applications will be denied if filed by people trading in arms and ammunition or working for commercial partnerships engaged in the trade production of arms, ammunition and special supplies for military use. [2(b)] [13(q)]& [15]6.32 Draft-dodging: Draft-dodging in Bulgaria is an imprisonable offence but the sentence, if any, is at the discretion of the Armed Forces.

6.33        It is illegal for members of the Armed Forces on active duty to participate in political activity on behalf of any party though they can do so on an individual basis; hence General Petrov's freedom to stand only as an independent candidate during the elections. Military pensioners and those who have completed their conscription are not so restricted. There are no special restrictions on ex-members of the Red Berets. Active duty conscripts participating in party activity would be liable for military detention. All conscripts have a theoretical reserve commitment and would be required to cease party activity if called up again. [13(f)]

6.34        Red Berets: The "Red Berets" are part of the Ministry of the Interior Special Troops (MIST). They number about 100-150 and do include some conscripts. Since September 1992, the role of the Red Berets has always been described as counter terrorist. They are involved in undertaking security duties at Sofia Airport during departures by VIPs and El Al flights (Israeli airline). [13(f)]

6.35        Ministry of Interior Troops: MIST were set up in 1984 to undertake the "regeneration" process against the Turkic minorities. The process ceased in late 1988 or early 1989 since then MIST has been used for the security of Embassies and as a sort of provincial gendarmerie attached to Law and Order Officer. Commander MIST (Col Ivan Ivanov) was recently sacked. [13(f)]

I.          Organized Crime

6.36        On 27th February 1996 the press carried front-page reports on the arrest on Friday [23rd February] of Captain Khristo Savov of the Central Service for Organised Crime Control with the Sofia Regional Directorate of the Interior. The officer, who was detained on racket charges, was arrested carrying 2,000 US dollars in marked notes which he had received earlier from the businessman whom he tried to racketeer and whose name was kept secret. The arrested policeman was so astounded by the presence of his colleagues that he confessed everything immediately. The dailies stated that Captain Savov was a former chief of the disbanded riot police section. During a shoot-out in the Belite Brezi housing estate in Sofia in 1994, policemen of the riot squad shot at three officers of the Organised Crime Control Service, also known as Red Berets, killing two of them. The announcement about the policeman's arrest was made immediately after Interior Minister [Lyubomir] Nachev brandished the list of the 2,315 persons with pending cases, who continue to be at large. [10(b)]

6.37        A number of insurance companies are involved in money-laundering and racketeering and known as "strong-arm companies" because clients are forced to make "insurance" payments for "protection". The government passed a Law of Insurance in 1998 which requires companies to obtain a trading licence from the National Insurance Council and is designed to stamp out these criminal companies. The first eight licences were issued in June 1998 and seven applications were handed back. In reality it may be difficult to eradicate the insurance offenders since there is little evidence of criminal activity due to the unwillingness of individuals and companies to make complaints.[13(p)] [18(j)]

6.38        On 3 February 1998, the Bulgarian Government agreed the basic principles of a new state administration system. The State Administration Minister Mario Tagarinski said that the government will seek to combat corruption by defining clearly the rights, obligations and powers of civil servants and by introducing more transparency in their activities. To achieve these goals, the government will table in parliament four new bills on the structure of state administration, on access to information, as well as amendments to an existing law on state and municipal tenders. [10(d)]

6.39        He added that the government will adopt a programme on the implementation of the strategy and specify the exact steps that should be taken until the end of its term in office in 2001. "We made a profound analysis of the existing administrative structures and identified the main problems - lack of motivation among the staff coercive methods of supervision and lack of co-ordination". According to Tagarinski, the first efforts will be directed towards building an adequate legal framework as a basis for a modern administrative system. The constitution of an internal information and communication system and the establishment of adequate organisational structures whose powers and obligations are clearly defined, is the second priority of the government programme. [10(d)]

6.40        An important element of the new state administration system is the separation of the executive branch of power from the state administration responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the executive. "This will lead to a genuine depolitisation of state administration and better motivation for those working in the system", Tagarinski said. A new qualifications and appraisal system is aimed to improve the climate within the state administration structures. "We want to make civil servants feel more secure in order to improve their efficiency", the minister said. [10(d)]

6.41        The new strategy envisages the development of a feedback with the public and the establishment of public control over the state administration whose foremost task is to serve the Bulgarian citizens. The programme provides for the establishment of more efficient control structures and an internal control system to monitor the performance of civil servants. [10(d)]

6.42        On 30 January 1998, the Foreign Investment Agency, the Bulgarian International Business Association, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and the Centre for the Study of the Democracy organised an open discussion on the Convention on Combating Bribery in International Business Transactions. Bulgaria has already expressed willingness to join the convention which is due to come into force by the end of 1998. All major foreign companies in Bulgaria had been invited to the discussion but interest was not particularly high despite the international renown of the two foreign lecturers that made presentations. This could be attributed either to poor organisation or to the scepticism of foreign and Bulgarian companies on the issues of corruption. [10(c)]

6.43        Prof Dr Mark Pieth, a Swiss lawyer and member of the working group that drafted the convention initiated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said there were four cases where a country like Bulgaria could be involved in international bribery. First, when a Bulgarian civil servant is bribed by a foreign company in return for a lucrative investment deal. Second, a Bulgarian company trying to win a project abroad bribes a foreign official in order to win a tender. Third, two foreign contractors use the Bulgarian territory to exchange slush-money but this is a case where the country's involvement is minor. Fourth, money received as a bribe is invested in a bank which invests it in another bank and so on. This is an example of money laundering. All these cases of corruption are encountered everywhere in the world, including Bulgaria, but some countries do more than others to prevent this malicious practice which is a serious threat to democracy, to economic development and to fair international competition. [10(c)]

6.44        Dr Michael Wiehen, former Vice President of the World Bank member of the Board of Directors of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), said corruption leads to improper allocation of resources. The TI is co-operating with more than 70 countries in the world in drawing up measures to fight corruption. Dr Wiehen praised the Bulgarian government for its forthright attack on corruption and advised it to stick to three major principles: integrity, transparency and accountability. Dr Wiehen said one of the possible ways to counter corruption is by regularly checking the incomes of all senior civil servants. Accountability, on the other hand, means that officials caught with bribes must be held legally responsible, i.e. corruption should be criminalised. Dr Wiehen welcomed Bulgaria's decision to join the convention and to adapt existing legislation to its requirements. [10(c)]

6.45        On 1 October 1998, the Russian and Bulgarian interior ministers signed a protocol on cooperation in combatting crime during 1999 extending the agreement drawn up in February whereby operational groups will be set up to work continuously on specific cases and mounting joint operations. They will improve the exchange of information and will establish links between their respective information banks on car thefts and smuggling. It is believed that this will help to prevent Bulgarian businesses falling prey to Russian rackets. [10(m)]

ANNEX A
CHRONOLOGY:

1908: Bulgaria declares itself an independent kingdom.

1941: Bulgaria allies itself with Germany and joins in the occupation of Yugoslavia.

1944: Soviet troops occupy Bulgaria.

1944: September: the Fatherland Front seizes power with the assistance of the Soviet Union.

1946: September: the monarchy is abolished and a republic is proclaimed.

1946: November: Georgi Dimitrov, the first secretary of the BCP becomes Chairman of the Council of Ministers in a government that comprises members of the Fatherland Front.

1947: December: Bulgaria becomes a People's Republic; all opposition parties are abolished and a new constitution, based on the Soviet model, is adopted.

1962: November: Todor Zhivkov becomes Prime Minister.

1971: May: a new Constitution is adopted and Zhivkov becomes the first President of the newly-formed State Council.

1981: At the twelfth BCP Congress, held in March and April, the party's leader is restyled General Secretary.

June: following elections to the National Assembly a new government was formed, headed by Grisha Filipov, a member of the BCP's Political Bureau.

1986: March: Filipov is replaced by Georgi Atanasov, a former Vice-President of the State Council.

1989: 10 November: Zhivkov is unexpectedly removed from his post and is replaced by Petur Mladenov. Mladenov also replaces Zhivkov as President of the State Council, whilst resigning as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1990: June: the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) win the first democratic elections.

1991: October: the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) obtain the largest share of the vote (34.4%) and Filip Dimitrov, the leader, is elected Chairman of the new government.

1992: January: President Zhelev is re-elected for a five year term.

1992: October: MRF and BSP deputies in the National Assembly defeat the government by 121 votes to 111. The government subsequently resigned.

30 December: Prof. Lyuben Berov is approved as Prime Minister in a secret ballot.

1994: 5 April: thousands of demonstrators protested in Sofia against government policies.

8 September: the National Assembly accepted the government's resignation.

18 December: at the general election the BSP (in alliance, as the Democratic Left, with the Aleksandur Stamboliyski Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union and the Ecoglasnost Political Club) obtain an outright majority in the National Assembly.

1995: January: the new government, headed by Zhan Videnov was appointed. (The majority members are members of BSP.)

1996: October: former Prime Minister and influential member of the BSP, Andrei Lukanov, was assassinated. Later that month Petar Stoyanov was elected to the presidency (see also Recent Political History, paragraph 3.22).

21 December: Videnov tendered his resignation and later in the same month the National Assembly accepted the resignation of Videnov's government.

1997: January: the BSP designated the Minister of the Interior, Nikolai Dobrev, replaced Videnov as Prime Minister.

19 January: Stoyanov was inaugurated as President.

19 April: a parliamentary election was held and the UtDF win the overall majority. President Stoyanov asked Ivan Kostov, leader of the UtDF to form a government.

June:      new currency control board established

1998: January: National Assembly rejected a motion of ‘no confidence' in the Government proposed by the Democratic Left deputies.

Government agreed to co-operate with requests by independent monitors to examine prison conditions

March: 2-day conference held at National Palace of Culture on Aids

March: Police broke up strike in factory in Pleven

April: First ever fine imposed on an employer of illegal child labour

April: OMO-Ilinden public-organised demonstration in Sofia

May: Deputy Minister of Justice Rousseva acknowledged that prolonged pre-trial detention constitutes a human rights violation.

June: Bill passed by Parliament setting up a specialised Refugee Agency and regulating the grant of refugee status.

June: Parliament passed a new bill on radio and television

Small reception centre opened in Banya (Greek/Turkish border)

Optional course on religion in the high school curriculum introduced for 1998/99 school year

August: Roma community centre opened in a Sofia neighbourhood, Vice-President Kavaldjiev was in attendance

August: Government announced plans to close down one of two state-owned national television channels and privatise it

December: Capital punishment abolished by Parliament

1999: January: Community Services Bill came into effect having been passed by Parliament in October 1998

February: Parliament ratified the Council of Europe's Minorities Convention. [1(a)]& [1(b)]

ANNEX B
MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES:

Aleksandur Stamboliyski Agrarian People's Union

Contested the 1994 general election and 1996 presidential election in alliance with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Ecoglasnost Political Club.

Alliance for National Salvation (ONS)

Founded 1997: Leader: Ahmed Dogan

BBB - Bulgarian Business Bloc

Leader: Georgi Ganchev

BCP - Bulgarian Communist Party (Bulgarska Komunisticheska Partiya)

Founded: 1990 by conservative members of the former ruling Bulgarian Communist Party (now renamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party). First Secretary of the Central Committee, Vladimir Spassov.

BSP - Bulgarian Socialist Party (Bulgarska Sotsialisticheska Partiya)

Founded: 1891 as the Social Democratic Party (BSDP); renamed the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) in 1919; renamed as above in 1990. Chair: Georgi Purvanov

Christian Republic Party

Founded: 1989; Chair - Konstantin Adzharov

Confederation - Kingdom Bulgaria (Tsarstvo Bulgaria)

Founded 1990; advocates the restoration of the former King, Simeon II; Chair - Georgi Bakardzhiev

DAR - Democratic Alternative for the Republic

Left-of-centre coalition.

Democratic Party of Justice

Founded 1994 as an ethnic Turkish group that split from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms; Chair - Nedim Gendzhev

Ecoglasnost Political Club

Founded: 1989; contested the 1994 general election and 1996 presidential election in alliance with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Aleksandur Stamboliyski; Chair - Edwin Sugarev; Secretary - Luchezar Toshev

Euro Left

Founded 1997: Leader: Alexsandur Tomor

Fatherland Party of Labour

Nationalist party; Chair - Rumen Popov

Fatherland Union

Founded 1942 as the Fatherland Front (a mass organisation unifying the BAPU - Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union, the BCP (now the BSP) and social organisation); named as above when restructured in 1990; a socio-political organisation of independents and individuals belonging to different political parties; Chair - Ginyo Ganev

Liberal Congress Party

Founded 1989 as the Bulgarian Socialist Party, renamed as the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (non-Marxist) in 1990 and as above in 1991; membership of UDF suspended in 1993; Chair - Yanko N. Yankov

Liberal Democratic Alternative

Founded: 1997: Leader Zhelyu Zhelar

MRF - Movement for Rights and Freedoms (Dvizhenie za Prava i Svobodi- DPS)

Founded in 1990 to represent the Muslim minority in Bulgaria; President - Ahmed Dogan

New Choice

Founded 1994 by a former faction of the UDF; Co-chair - Dimitur Ludzhev, Ivan Pushkarov

New Union for Democracy - NUD

Founded 1993, formerly a section of the UDF.

Party of Democratic Change

Founded 1994 by a group from the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms; Chair - Mukaddes Nalbant

Party of Free Democrats (Centre)

Founded 1989; Chair - Assistant Professor Khristo Santulov

Patriotic Union

Based in Sofia.

Union of Democratic Forces (UDF)

Founded 1994 as an electoral alliance between the following:

Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BAPU) (Bulgarski Zemedelski Naroden Sayuz - BZNS)

Founded 1899; in ruling coalition 1946-89; Leader Anastasia Moser.

Democratic Party

Re-formed 1990; Chair - Stefan Savov

UDF, Union of Democratic Forces (Sayuz na Demokratichni Sili - SDS)

Founded 1989; Chair - Ivan Kostov; alliance of the following parties, organisations and movements.

Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union - ‘Nikola Petkov' (Bulgarski Zemedelski Naroden Sayuz)

Chair - Anastasiya Mozer

Bulgarian Democratic Forum

Chair - Vassil Zlatarev

Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (United - BSDP)

Founded 1891; re-established 1989; President - Ivan Kurtev

Christian Democratic Union

Chair - Julius Pavlov

Christian ‘Salvation' Union

Chair - Bishop Khristofor Sahev

Citizens' Initiative Movement

Chair - Todor Gagalov

Conservative Ecological Party

Chair - Khristo Bisserov

Democratic Party 1896

Founded 1994 by a former faction of the Democratic Party, Chair -Stefan Raychevski

Federation of Democracy Clubs

Founded 1988 as Club for the support of "Glasnost" and "Perstroika" (Russian words for openness and restructuring); merged with other groups, as above, 1990; Chair - Yordan Vassilev

Federation of Independent Student Committees

Leader - Andrei Nenov

New Social Democratic Party

Founded 1990; membership of the UDF suspended 1991, resumed 1993; Chair - Dr Vassil Mikhailov

Radical Democratic Party

Chair - Dr Kyril Boyadzhiev

Republican Party

Chair - Lenko Russanov

United Christian Democratic Centre

Chair - Stefan Sofianski

Other Organisations

The Independent Association for Human Rights in Bulgaria

Leader: Stefan Valkov

The Union of Victims of Repression

Leader Ivan Nevrokopsky

The Union of Non-Party Members

Leader: Boyan Velkov

(All of the above enjoy observer status in the UDF now the UtDF).

[1]

ANNEX C
POLITICAL PARTIES WHICH RAN IN THE APRIL 1997 GENERAL

ELECTIONS:

Political Parties in Order of Registration

Reg

No.

Party/Coalition

Total No. of Cands.

Total No. of Districts

1

Democratic Alternative for the Republic (DAR)

113

30

2

Democratic Party for Equality in the Republic of Bulgaria

105

27

3

Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union - Centre

109

26

4

Bulgarian Communist Party

204

31

5

Bulgarian Democratic Party for European and World States

54

30

6

Bulgarian Business Block (BBB)

206

31

7

Bulgarian National Movement of the Eternal Path

53

22

8

Union of the Nation - Movement of the Underprivileged (PP / ON-DO)

14

8

9

Liberal Forum

202

31

10

New Democracy

121

26

11

Bulgarian Green Federation

142

31

12

Bulgarian Progressive Forces Front

65

19

13

Bulgarian National Ecological Party - Veliko Turnovo

66

30

14

Democratic League

184

31

15

Bulgarian Revolutionary Youth Party

30

14

16

Free Cooperative Party

216

31

17

Union for Democratic Development (SDR)

72

19

18

Party of the Democratic Changes

0

0

19

Bulgarian Workers and Peasants Party

52

30

20

Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union - Nikola Petkov / within the SDS

0

0

21

Bulgarian National Democratic Party

75

27

22

United Democratic Forces - SDS / DP / BZNS / BSDP

360

31

23

Forward for Bulgaria Coalition

146

29

24

People's Patriotic Front

153

30

25

Christian Democratic Union

45

30

26

Bulgarian Fatherland Party - National Union

17

17

27

Union for the King

157

31

28

Bulgarian National Radical Party

154

31

29

 

 

 

30

Transformation Forum

85

31

31

Euroleft

282

31

32

Bulgarian Socialist Workers Party

96

21

33

Democratic Left - BSP / PK Ecoglasnost

240

31

34

People's Party

0

0

35

Crowned Democracy Coalition

97

29

36

Bulgarian Women's Party

58

30

37

Union for National Salvation - BZNS-Nikola Petkov, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Green Party, Party of the Democratic Centre, New Choice, Bulgarian Federation for the Kingdom

270

31

38

Bulgarian Christian Coalition

167

31

39

Bulgarian Party of the Liberals

131

29

 

Independents

              Total Number of Candidates

10

4,561

8

 

 

NB There is no party number 29 due to a withdrawal of one party [13(e)]

ANNEX D
LIST OF POLITICAL PARTIES REGISTERED IN BULGARIA:

A

AGRARIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION

ALLIANCE FOR BULGARIA

ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY

ALTERNATIVE SOCIAL LIBERAL PARTY

ALTERNATIVE SOCIALIST ALLIANCE - INDEPENDENTS

ANTI-COMMUNISM FOR DEMOCRACY ‘93/UNION

ASSOCIATED DEMOCRATIC FORCES - RIGHTIST DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

B

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - ALEXANDER STAMBOLIISKI

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - NIKOLA PETKOV

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - CENTRE

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - NIKOLA PETKOV 1945

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - NIKOLA PETKOV - WITH THE UDF

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - ORANGE

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - PLADNE

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - UNITED

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - VRABCHA 1 (DIMITER GICHEV)

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY - VRABCHA 1

BULGARIAN AGRARIAN YOUTH UNION

BULGARIAN BUSINESS BLOC

BULGARIAN CHRISTIAN COALITION

BULGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY/CENTRE/

BULGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION

BULGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION - UNITED

BULGARIAN COMMUNIST PARTY

BULGARIAN COMMUNITIES UNION

BULGARIAN DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTIONAL PARTY

BULGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM

BULGARIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

BULGARIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY FOR EUROPEAN AND WORLD STATES

BULGARIAN EAGLE ASSOCIATION

BULGARIAN GREEN FEDERATION

BULGARIAN INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC UNION

BULGARIAN LEAGUE FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE RIGHTS OF MAN AND THE

CITIZEN

BULGARIAN LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

BULGARIAN LIBERAL PARTY

BULGARIAN MIDDLE CLASS

BULGARIAN NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

BULGARIAN NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTALIST PARTY - VELIKO TURNOVO

BULGARIAN NATIONAL FRONT

BULGARIAN NATIONAL FRONT MOVEMENT

BULGARIAN NATIONAL RADICAL PARTY

BULGARIAN NATIONAL UNION OF RETIRED PEOPLE

BULGARIAN PEASANTS' POPULIST PARTY

BULGARIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY

BULGARIAN REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH PARTY

BULGARIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST YOUTH FEDERATION

BULGARIAN UNION FOR EUROPEAN FEDERATION SOCIAL ORGANISATION

BULGARIAN UNITED COMMUNIST PARTY

BULGARIAN WOMEN'S PARTY

BULGARIAN WORKERS' SOCIALIST PARTY

BULGARIAN WORKERS AND PEASANTS' PARTY

BULGARIAN WORKERS' SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

BULGARIAN FOR COMMON SENSE AND NATIONAL CONSCIENCE/DEMOCRATIC

CIRCLE

C

CHRISTIAN AGRARIAN PARTY

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN BULGARIA

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION IN BULGARIA

CHRISTIAN RADICAL PARTY

CHRISTIAN RADICAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

CHRISTIAN REPUBLICAN PARTY

CHRISTIAN SOCIAL UNION

CHRISTIAN WOMEN MOVEMENT

CIVIC ALLIANCE FOR THE REPUBLIC

CIVIC INDEPENDENCE INITIATIVE

CIVIC INITIATIVE MOVEMENT WITH THE DEMOCRATIC FORCES

CLUB OF THE VICTIMS OF REPRESSION AFTER 1945

COMMUNIST PARTY

CONSERVATIVE AND ECOLOGICAL PARTY

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

CONSTITUTIONAL FORUM POLITICAL CLUB

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS POLITICAL CLUB

CONSTITUTIONAL UNION/PLOVDIV/

D

DAWN POLITICAL CIRCLE

DEMOCRACY CLUB

DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

DEMOCRATIC BULGARIA NATIONAL COUNCIL

DEMOCRATIC CENTRE PARTY

DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT FOR CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

DEMOCRATIC PARTY

DEMOCRATIC PARTY - 1896

DEMOCRATIC PARTY - CONSERVATIVE ALLIANCE

DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN BULGARIA

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JUSTICE IN THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LABOUR

DEMOCRATIC PARTY - PLOVDIV

DEMOCRATIC SLAV PARTY

DEMOCRATIC WOMEN UNION POLITICAL CLUB

E

ECO-GLASNOST NATIONAL MOVEMENT

ECO-GLASNOST POLITICAL CLUB

ENLIGHTENMENT ASSOCIATION

ENLIGHTENMENT MONARCHIC SOCIETY

ERA 3 UNION OF DEMOCRATIC PARTIES AND MOVEMENTS

ETERNAL WAY BULGARIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT

F

FATHERLAND OF LABOUR

FEDERATION OF ANARCHISTS IN BULGARIA

FORWARD BULGARIA MOVEMENT

FREE BULGARIA

FREE CHOICE PARTY

FREE COOPERATIVE PARTY

FREEDOM AND PROGRESS PARTY

FREE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

FREE PARTY FOR BALKAN UNITY

FRONT OF BULGARIAN PROGRESSIVE FORCES

G

GERGYOVDEN MOVEMENT

GREEN PARTY

I

INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS -

POLITICAL CLUB

INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC PARTY

INDEPENDENT SOCIETY FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS

INDEPENDENT STRATUM CONFEDERATION OF THE UNAFFILIATED TO

POLITICAL PARTIES BULGARIAN CITIZENS

J

JUSTICE SOCIAL LIBERAL MOVEMENT

JUSTICE UNION

K

KING BORIS III UNION

KINGDOM OF BULGARIA FEDERATION

KINGDOM OF BULGARIA UNION - ROUSSE

L

LIBERAL CONGRESS PARTY

LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE

LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVE

LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY - CENTRE

LIBERAL ECOLOGICAL PARTY

LIBERAL PARTY/PERNIK/

LIBERALS BULGARIAN PARTY

LOVE FOR THE COUNTRY ASSOCIATION

M

MONARCHIC CONSERVATIVE UNION

MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE AND HUMANISM

MOVEMENT FOR LAW AND DEMOCRACY

MOVEMENT FOR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL DEFENCE

MOVEMENT FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE RETIRED, UNEMPLOYED AND

SOCIALLY WEAK PEOPLE

MOVEMENT FOR THE RETURN OF H M SIMEON II TO BULGARIA

N

NATIONAL BLUE PARTY

NATIONAL CHRISTIAN UNION

NATIONAL CLUB FOR DEMOCRACY

NATIONAL DEMOCRACY PARTY

NATIONAL PARTY OF LABOUR, PRIVATE OWNERS, MANUFACTURERS AND

ARTISTS

NATIONAL PATRIOTIC UNION

"NATIONAL UNION" BULGARIAN FATHERLAND PARTY

NATURAL MONARCHIST PARTY

"NAYCHO TZANOV" BULGARIAN RADICAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

NEO-CONSERVATIVE BLUE PARTY

"NEW BULGARIA" MOVEMENT

"NEW BULGARIA" PARTY

"NEW BULGARIA" POLITICAL UNION

NEW CONSERVATIVE PARTY

"NEW DEMOCRACY" BULGARIAN NATIONAL UNION

NEW DEMOCRACY PARTY

NEW PEOPLE'S CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

"NEW POLICY" CENTRE

NEW RADICAL PARTY

NEW SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

O

ORGANISATION OF THE PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM HEART DISEASES AND THE

 SOCIALLY WEAK PEOPLE

P

PAN-BULGARIAN ANTI-COMMUNIST UNION

PARTY OF BULGARIAN OWNERS

PARTY OF DEMOCRATIC CHANGES

PARTY OF FREE DEMOCRATS

PARTY OF FREE DEMOCRATS - CENTRE

PARTY OF GREEN LIBERALS

PARTY OF PROBITY AND JUSTICE

PARTY FOR MODERATE PROGRESS WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF

LAW/RENEWED/ - BEER PARTY

PEOPLE'S PARTY

"PROGRESS" POLITICAL PARTY

R

RADICAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN BULGARIA

RENEWED BULGARIAN COMMUNIST PARTY

REPUBLICAN PARTY

REPUBLICAN PARTY IN BULGARIA

"ROAD ‘94" SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

S

SCIENTIFIC PARLIAMENT

"SERDICA" UNION OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY

SOCIALIST YOUTH UNION

SPORT AND FUTURE NATIONAL MOVEMENT

"STEFAN STAMBOLOV" NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY

T

"TRANSFIGURATION" FORUM

"TZAR BORIS THE THIRD" DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

U

UNIFICATION OF NATION - MOVEMENT OF DISFAVOURED

UNION FOR CIVIC SOCIETY

UNION FOR FREE DEVELOPMENT

UNION FOR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE TURNOVO (YOUNG PEOPLE)

UNION FOR THE FATHERLAND

UNION OF BULGARIAN COMMUNISTS AND FOLLOWERS VICTIMS OF

REPRESSION BEFORE 10 NOVEMBER 1989

UNION OF COMMUNISTS IN BULGARIA

UNION OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES

UNION OF FREE DEMOCRATS

UNION OF NON-PARTISAN GUARANTORS

UNION OF PATRIOTIC FORCES

UNION OF THE BULGARIAN VICTIMS OF REPRESSION

UNION OF THE UNAFFILIATED TO POLITICAL PARTIES

UNITED AGRARIAN UNION

UNITED BLOC OF LABOUR

UNITED CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC CENTRE

UNITED DEMOCRATIC UNION - PARTY FOR JUSTICE

UNITY CULTURAL EDUCATIONAL ORGANISATION

UNITY PARTY

UPLIFT MOVEMENT FOR NATIONAL REVIVAL

W

WILL FOR BULGARIA MOVEMENT FOR NATIONAL SURVIVAL

Y

YOUNG DEMOCRACY

YOUTH RADICAL DEMOCRATIC FEDERATION

YOUTH WORKERS' UNION

[16]

ANNEX E
ACRONYMS OF THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES:

ANS - The Alliance for National Salvation

BAPU - Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union

BBB - Bulgarian Business Block

BCP - Bulgarian Communist Party

BSDP - Bulgarian Social Democratic

BSP - Bulgarian Socialist Party (The renamed Communist Party [BCP])

CITUB - The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria

DAR - Democratic Alternative for the Republic

MRF - Movement for Rights and Freedom

NUD - New Union for Democracy

UDF - Union of Democratic Forces

ANNEX F
PROMINENT PEOPLE:

Professor Lyuben Berov: Originally an economic adviser to President Zhelev, Berov was approved as Prime Minister on 30 December 1992 in a secret ballot and remained in post until the government's resignation in September 1994.

Kimon Georgiev: Headed the first government under Soviet rule in 1944 as leader of the ‘Fatherland Front'.

Georgi Atanasov: Vice-President of the State Council who replaced Georgi Filipov in March 1986.

Filip Dimitrov: Leader of the UDF who was elected Chairman of the new government after elections held in October 1991 until he was replaced in November 1992 Professor by Lyuben Berov.

Georgi Dimitrov: First Secretary of the BCP who became Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1946.

Nikolai Dobrev: Replaced Videnov as Prime Minister in January 1997. He in turn was replaced by Stefan Sofyanski in February 1997.

Grisha Filipov: A member of the BCP's Political Bureau and head of the government from 1981 until 1986.

Ivan Kostov: Leader of the UtDF who was elected Prime Minister by President Stoyanov in April 1997.

Andrei Lukanov: A former Prime Minister and an influential member of the BSP who was assassinated in early October 1996 (see also Recent Political History, paragraph 3.22).

Petur Mladenov: President of the State Council from November 1989 until his resignation in July 1990 .

Stefan Sofianski: Former Mayor of Sofia who was nominated to the office of Prime Minister by Stoyanov in February 1997 until April 1997 when he was replaced by the leader of the UtDF, Ivan Kostov.

Petar Stoyanov: A lawyer and senior member of the opposition alliance who was elected President on 19 January 1997.

Zhan Videnov: Chairman of the BSP who headed the government at the end of January 1995. He unexpectedly tendered his resignation from the office of Prime Minister and the post of party leader on 21 December 1996.

Zhelyu Zhelev: Replaced Petur Mladenov as President in August 1990 until June 1996 when he was defeated in the primary elections for a UDF presidential candidate. After his defeat he announced his support for the candidature of Petar Stoyanov, a senior member of the opposition alliance.

Todor Zhivkov: Prime Minister in November 1962 and the first President of the newly-formed State Council in May 1971.

[1]

ANNEX G
REGISTERED RELIGIOUS FAITHS IN BULGARIA (January 1997):

Orthodox

Bulgarian Orthodox Church

(Patriarch Maxim's Synod is registered)

Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church

Catholic

Catholic Church in Bulgaria

(Registered October 1990)

Gospel (Evangelical) Churches

Bulgarian Church of God

(Registered December 1990)

Bulgarian Gospel Church of God

(Registered November 1990)

Bulgarian Gospel Church "Blessed News"

(Registered November 1991)

Gospel Church "Peace of God"

(Registered May 1992)

Gospel Methodist (Wesleyan) Episcopal Church in Bulgaria

(Registered November 1990)

Gospel Church "Faith of Fire"

(Registered November 1991)

Spiritual Christian Society "Christ's Church of Redemption"

(Registered May 1992)

Lutheran Church in Bulgaria

(Registered July 1994)

New Apostolic Church in Bulgaria

(Registered February 1991)

United Churches of God

(Registered November 1991

Open Brotherhood of the Bible

(Registered June 1991)

Association "Free Gospel Congregations"

(Registered May 1992)

Union of Gospel Baptist Churches in Bulgaria

(Registered November 1990)

Union of Gospel Pentecost (Whitsunday) Churches in Bulgaria

(Registered November 1990)

Union of Gospel Cathedral [?] Churches in Bulgaria

(Registered November 1990)

Union of the Churches of Adventists of the 7th Day

(Registered November 1990

Christian Church "Power of God"

(Registered September 1992)

Christian Church "Zion"

(Registered September 1992)

Gospel Church of Christ "Shalom"

(Registered September 1992)

Church of Adventists of the 7th Day- Reforms Movement

(Registered November 1990)

Church of Adventists of the 7th Day

(Registered November 1991)

Israelite

Israelite Faith

(Registered August 1993)

Muslim

Muslim Faith in Bulgaria (in February 1995 Nedim Gendzhev registered as head of the Supreme Muslim Spiritual Council and Hadzhi Basri as Chief Mufti)

Others

Bahai Community in Bulgaria

(Registered November 1991)

White Brotherhood Society

(Registered May 1995)

Society for Krishna Conscientiousness

(Registered November 1991)

Jesus Christ's Church of the Saints of the Last Days

(Registered July 1991)[13(n)]

 

ANNEX H
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 

[1]   Europa Year Book 1997.

(b)   Europa Year Book 1998.

 

[2]   (a) US State Department Report for 1996, issued in 1997

      (b) US State Department Report for 1997, issued in 1998

      (c) US State Department Report for 1998, issued in 1999

 

[3]   Amnesty International Report, June 1996.

 

[4]   (a) Amnesty International Report, October 1996 - "Bulgarian Authorities respond to Amnesty International Report of June 1996".

      (b) Amnesty International Report 1997

      (c) Amnesty International: Concerns in Europe January - June 1997

      (d) Amnesty International: Recent Reports of Unlawful Use of Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers, December 1998

 

[5]   UNHCR Centre for Documentation and Research, "Background Paper on Bulgarian         Refugees and Asylum Seekers", Geneva, November 1994.

 

[6]   Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa, Canada, Bulgaria: Ethnic Minorities, November 1995.

 

[7]   Human Rights, International Instruments, Chart of Ratifications (as at 31 December 1996), United Nations, June 1997.    

 

[8]   UNHCR Correspondence dated September 23 1997.

 

[9]   Immigration and Refugee Board Documentation Centre, Ottawa, Canada, "Bulgaria: The Impact Of Reform - May 1991.

 

[10]  Reuters News Service:

      (a) Bulgaria: Bulgaria UDF wins 52% in Election - Official, dated 23 April 1997

      (b) Bulgaria: Former Riot Police Chief Arrested on Extortion Charges, dated 28 February 1996.

      (c) Bulgaria: Bulgaria to join Convention on Combating International Corruption, dated 2 February 1998.

      (d) Bulgaria: Bulgarian Government agrees on strategy to overhaul State Administration, dated 3 February 1998.

      (e) Turkey: Bulgaria should be removed from Islamic Blacklist - Welfare Party Leader, dated 31 July 1997.

      (f) Turkey: Four other Agreements Signed, dated 31 July 1997.

      (g) Lithuania: Lithuanian and Bulgarian Presidents discuss Trade and Co-operation in Vilnius, dated 6 September 1997.  

      (h) Macedonia: Bulgarian Defence Minister Pays Official Visit, dated 5 September 1997.

      (i) Bulgaria: President meets Russian Premier and Finnish President in Vilnius, dated 8 September 1997.

      (j) Bulgaria: Gypsies see No Way Out: 21 November 1996

      (k) Bulgaria: Situation of Gypsies in Bulgaria: 10 May 1996

      (l) Bulgaria: Aids Conference held in Sofia: 9 March 1998

      (m) Bulgaria: Gipsy Minority to Get Greater Access to Media: 15 January 1998

      (n) Bulgaria: Bulgaria and Russia Sign Protocol of Combatting Crime: 1 October 1998

 

[11]  Law of Defence and Armed Forces, Edict No 305, Section II, Conscript Military Service (Articles 96 - 109), Translated by Alexander Stoimenov. 

 

[12]  The New Europe, An Encyclopedic Atlas, by Mitchell Beazley.

 

[13]  Foreign & Commonwealth Office:

      (a) Communication from F&CO, London, dated, 12 December 1994.

      (b) Communication from F&CO, London, dated, 20 June 1995.

      (c) Communication from F&CO, London, dated, 17 April 1996.

      (d) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 27 September 1996.

      (e) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 6 February 1998.

      (f) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 13 January 1995.

      (g) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 13 May 1994.

      (h) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 23 July 1996.

      (i) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 29 November 1995.

      (j) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 27 September 1995.

      (k) Communication from F&CO, London, dated September 1996.

      (l) Communication from F&CO, Sofia, dated 19 August 1997.

      (m) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 26 January 1996.

      (n) Communication from F&CO, Sofia, dated 8 January 1997.

      (o) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 12 March 1998.

      (p) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 17 April 1998

      (q) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 1 July 1998

      (r) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 23 October 1997

      (s) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 28 October 1996

      (t) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 2 October 1998

      (u) Communication from F&CO, London, dated 27 November 1998

 

[14]  Letter from UNHCR, dated 20 September 1995.

 

[15]  Community Service Bill Passed on First Reading, dated 24 January 1998, BTA (Bulgarian Press Service).

 

[16]  Bulgarian Who's Who 1997.

 

[17]  RIA News Agency:

      (a) Russian, Bulgarian officials discuss border co-operation in Moscow, dated 24 February 1998.

 

[18]  BTA News Agency:

      (a) Italian Premier says Italy backs Bulgaria's bid for EU Membership, dated 24 February 1998.

      (b) Privatization agency issues progress report for 1997, dated 19 February 1998.

      (c) Three main shipyards to be sold off this year, dated 19 February 1998.

      (d) Bulgaria's international credit rating is upgraded, dated 20 February 1998.

      (e) Bulgaria expects foreign investment to triple in 1998, dated 18 February 1998.

      (f) Minister lists significant achievements of Currency Board, dated 2 July 1998

      (g) Crime in Bulgarian army halved, dated 25 June 1998

      (h) Parliament adopts refugee bill in first reading, dated 19 June 1998

      (i) Sofia Echo Finances: 8 Insurance Companies in Licence Policy dated

      (j) President and premier decisions national ministry policy

      (k) Army Reform to lead to 10,000 staff cuts this year, dated 18 July 1998

      (l) Bulgarian homosexuals, 18 November 1998

      (m) Bulgarian radio, 4 December 1998

      (n) Bulgarian Parliament abolishes capital punishment, 10 December 1998

      (o) Breakaway groups from ethnic Turk party allies with government, 12 December 1998

      (p) Defence Minister outlines NATO membership, 18 December 1998

      (q) Border police chief overviews 1998, 29 December 1998

      (r) Sofia police report drop in crime in 1998, 1 February 1999

      (s) Left-wing paper says fundamentalists proselytizing among Bulgarian muslims, 1 February 1999

      (t) Bulgarian Parliament ratifies minorities convention, 18 February 1999

 

[19]  Europe, The Rough Guide.

 

[20]  Bulgaria: Questions and Answers: Research Directorate of the Documentation, Information and Research Branch, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa: November 1995

 

[21]  F&CO: Bulgaria At A Glance

 

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