February, 2010

  1. Translation of Annie’s letter to the Prime minister

    February 19, 2010 by Christopher Buxton

    Here is a translation of Annie’s letter to Bate Boyko. You can read the original in previous post.

    Dear Mr Borisov.

    When I was introduced to you at the London Embassy Reception on the 7th February I could hardly have expected to have needed to contact you so soon afterwards.

    I am an only child and Bulgarian citizen, living in the United Kingdom since 1980. I have now retired after a long career in the English Education system. (For more information please visit the site: www.christopherbuxton.com )

    I am writing to you on behalf of my 86 year old mother, Milka Volcanova, who has been registered as disabled (at the highest level) is in need of 24 hour a day care and has been struggling in the grips of a corrupt legal system for the last ten years.

    She owns half of a building in the very centre of Burgas – number 4 Vuzrazhdane Street, built by my Grandfather in 1938. The other half of the building is owned by Petrol Holding Company.

    In the first instance, Petrol sought consultations with my mother about the possibility of redeveloping the site. But they broke off negotiations without explanation. With their contacts and resources, Petrol clearly felt it would be a lot cheaper for them to present the building as a danger to tenants and public. Without any prior consultation the company bought expertise to produce a report that the building was in imminent danger of collapse. In this way they hoped to scare off my mother’s tenants and so by depriving her of her only income, force her to sell her half to Petrol for stotinki.

    Burgas City Council quickly issued a demolition order, in spite of the fact that in the centre of Burgas, there are buildings that have stood empty for years and are in far worse condition.

    After many years and further hearings, further expert testimony proved that the house was in no danger of collapse. The Council’s demolition order was revoked. Sadly what was not revoked was the further order that the house was not to be used and that access to outside people should be barred. This order which was linked to the original demolition order is in complete contradiction of all property laws (so my mother’s lawyers have assured her.) It should be noted that no reasons are advanced for this order. It also successfully hampers any attempt my mother may make to carry out necessary repairs.

    Burgas Town Council now proposes to cut off electricity and water supplies to the building. How would any owner be able to conduct repairs when water, electricity and access rights are cut off? The aim of this order is clear – it is to leave my mother without any means of support and force her to sell at the lowest possible price.

    My mother’s lawyers were amazed at how the Supreme court could reach such a decision – which contradicts all property laws and rights. They are convinced that the order was issued only with the aim of forcing my mother to sell.

    However much we have been impressed by the work of Mr Nikolov as Mayor of Burgas, we could not help but notice worrying rumours that the Deputy Mayor of Burgas Town Council, K. Markov has been involved in the same process with other older buildings in the centre of Burgas. Several demolition orders have been questioned in the local press – particularly in the light of links with close friends in the construction business.

    Clearly, my mother has no other hope without your intervention, along with an appeal to the European Courts. Please I beg you to look into this case again with a view to suspending the order that prevents my mother from carrying out the necessary repairs which will enable her to pay for her care.

    I remain hopeful that your intervention in this case will warm the heart of a former teacher, widow and invalid, who has struggled on her own against powerful odds in a corrupt and inadequate legal system. Also such an intervention will eliminate yet another example of failure which would otherwise damage further the reputation of Bulgaria in Europe.

    As the French Ambassador stated recently. Democracy is impossible without an adequate justice system.. The rights of the weak must be publicly defended against the unreasonable rapacity of the powerful.

    With the greatest respect

    Anna Ivanova Buxton


  2. Open letter to Bulgarian Prime Minister

    February 18, 2010 by Christopher Buxton


    Г-н Бойко Борисов

    Министър Председател

    Министерски Съвет

    Бул. „Дондуков” № 1

    София 1194

    Драги Г-н Борисов,

    Аз се запознах с вас на приема в Българското посолство в Лондон на 7 Февруари и съвсем не предполагах, че ще се наложи да се свързвам с вас с молба за помощ толкова скоро след това.

    Аз съм една дъщеря и живея в Обединеното Кралство от 1980 година и след дълга кариера в Английската образователна система съм пенсионерка (за повече информация – www.christopherbuxton.com ).

    Обръщам се към вас от името на 86 годишната си майка, Милка Вълканова, която е първа степен инвалид и която от години се бори с подкупната правна система в България. Тя притежава половината от сграда в самия център на Бургас на ул. „Възраждане”№ 4, построена от дядо ми през 1938 г., като другата половина е собственост на Петрол Холдинг АД.

    Първоначално, Петрол разтоваряха с нас за общ строеж, но после явно решиха, че ще е много по-евтино за тях, да представят сградата за самосрутваща се. В такъв случай майка ми, която изцяло зависи от наемите, които получава за гледане и издръжка, ще бъде принудена да продаде нейната половина за стотинки. Бургаския Окръжен съвет бързо издаде заповед за събарянето на сградата, въпреки че в центъра на Бургас има много сгради, които са в много по-лошо състояние, без някой да предлага да се разрушат.

    След много дела и експертизи които доказват, че сградата не е самосрутваща се, и няколко години, заповедта на Бургаския Съвет (на Заместник Кмета) за събаряне на сградата бе отменена, но за съжаление не бе отменена частта, която разпорежда сградата да не се обитава и да е ограничен достъпа на външни лица. Това изискване, което е свързано с отмененото събаряне на сградата, е в пълно противоречие на законите (както ни уверяват адвокатите на майка ми) и на необходимостта да се ремонтира сградата. Как бихте могли да ремонтирате сграда, в която Съвета иска да спре тока и водата и да елиминира достъпа на хора? Целта е много явно да остане майка ми без наеми и да бъде принудена да продаде, за да се издържа.

    Моето семейство в Англия живее в къща, строена през 1890 и слава богу никой не повдига въпроса тя да бъде съборена като опасна, тъй като през годините, всички живели в нея са я ремонтирали и поддържали в добро състояние.

    Нашите адвокати бяха удивени, че върховния съд може да излезе с такова решение – противоречащо изцяло да законите и явно дадено с цел да се принуди майка ми да продаде имота си. Колкото и да сме впечатлени от работата на Г-н Николов като кмет на Бургас, не мога да не отбележа, тревожните слухове за връзки на Заместник кмета на Община Бургас К. Марков и с други сгради в центъра на Бургас, които също са номинирани за събаряне и строеж, с участие на фирми на негови близки.

    След върховния съд, майка ми явно няма друга надежда, освен вашата интервенция, последвана от Европейския съд. Моля ви от все сърце да наредите да се прегледа случая отново за да се премахне противоречащото на законите изискване сградата да не се обитава и ползва и да се ограничи достъпа до нея, за да можем да пристъпим към необходимите ремонти.

    Дълбоко се надявам, че вашата интервенция ще стопли сърцето на една бивша учителка, вдовеца и инвалид, която се бори сама с много корумпираната, бавна и неадекватна правната система. Също, тази интервенция ще елиминира още един случай, който ще урони и без това ниския авторитет на Българската правна система в Европа.

    С най дълбоко уважение и много надежди

    Анна Иванова Бъкстон


  3. "Tourists who try to find things on their own only find mosquitos"

    February 6, 2010 by Christopher Buxton

    It was ever thus: As Jane Austin might have written, It is a truth universally acknowledged that in a poor country a western tourist must be in search of some paid help or service.

    However little known the feelings or views of such a tourist on his first approaching a market stall, historic monument or even bus stop, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding natives that he/she is considered their rightful property.

    Tourists of slender material wealth flock to countries which possess stunning monuments and natural locations, astonishing arts and crafts, benevolent weather and above all the reputation of being extremely cheap.

    The challenge of visiting an alien culture, which seems older and richer than yours is vitiated by the fear that you will be ripped off by the natives. That is why you have purchased a guidebook the size of a bible.

    This guidebook is of course designed to keep contact with local people to a minimum.

    Enter a museum. You may be approached by a man who is urbane, shows a flattering interest in you, is able to speak your language flawlessly and is a mine of interesting information. Warned by your guidebook, you may purse your lips and tell him you have no need of his services. He will look hurt. You may feel a flash of guilt.

    What the guidebook will not remind you is that for the man this linkage of personal human contact with financial gain is unavoidable, and that this man needs you not just to survive, but also maintain a sense of self worth. He needs your money but also he needs the reassurance of being liked and respected for his manners and knowledge.

    The guidebook is therefore the enemy of the local population who stand as fishermen before the annual shoals of tourists. Stick your head too much in the guidebook, you’ll trip over broken ancient paving stones. You’ll see more printed words than decorated doorways or tiled fountains.

    The streets of poor countries throng with educated, multilingual and barely employed young men. One such walks beside you. Where are you from? What are you looking for? I’ll show you the way! You close the guidebook, pretend that you are not lost. You stop to look in a shop and hope he will go away. But he waits by the next corner. As you try to avoid his polite approaches, his face will betray hurt at your lack of manners.

    Tourists who try to find things on their own, only find mosquitoes! – the frustrated reaction of one such young man. We had declined his offer to guide us through the maze of narrow streets to find the ancient synagogue in Moroccan Meknes.

    Some tourists will go to lengths to protect themselves entirely from cultural contamination. In Thailand and Cambodia, we saw groups of wealthy Korean Tourists being led by Korean guides, protected from the locals by invisible barriers. After being shown temples or museums, the tourists are bused back to Korean owned hotels where they eat Korean food and buy souvenirs in Korean owned hotel shops.

    This of course does not improve local stereotypes of arrogant Koreans.

    But the ordinary tourist will still have to brace themselves when it comes to buying souvenirs and presents. There is no avoiding hassle and haggle.

    The guidebook will be consulted before any unavoidable transaction – how much should you pay for a taxi? a rug? a tagine? Deep in your heart there is a sense of raging competition with your fellow tourists. Will you have boasting rights on your bargaining skills back at the hotel, or will someone just sneer: You paid how much?They must have seen you coming.

    But this competition is artificial. It’s better to take writer Paul Bowles advice and go with the flow. We need to gain a sense of perspective and not worry too much about paying a little over the odds. After all being screwed can be a pleasurable experience. And it redresses global unfairness. We have to live up or down to our hosts’ expectations.


  4. Little Volen

    February 6, 2010 by Christopher Buxton

    I read in Standart that Volen Siderov’s escapade on a plane into Frankfurt has moved a Socialist Deputy to verse.

    Volen (Bulgarians love him) Siderov is alleged to to have got extremely drunk, abused stewardesses, calling them blonde Aryans (which is pretty rich coming from him) and as a result the plane had to be landed at the far end of the airport and met by police. Of course Volen just waved a diplomatic passport and no action was taken.

    Anyway here’s a free translation of Dimcho Mikhailovski’s reaction.

    Little Volen was flying drunk into town
    German pilots pulled guns to safely touch down
    “Aryan” stewardesses reacted in shock
    On the runway policemen waited en bloc

    Volen waved his diplomatic cards
    This number amazed the German guards.
    We’re always able to land in the mud.
    Anyway our parliament’s a total dud.


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