Thursday, October 26, 2006
I won't discuss Siderov now; he has been honoured by me earlier (http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2006/04/volen-siderov.html) and, besides, now everybody leads propaganda against him. Everybody tells us how important is not to elect Siderov and how we, the people whose views put us against Parvanov, must press our noses with two fingers and go to vote for him. Oh, really? Let's see.
I'll first translate the information about Parvanov given by Mediapool at http://www.mediapool.bg/show/?storyid=121454 and most likely originating from his official CV. It is usually said that Parvanov is a historian. His CV points exactly what kind of historian he is: "He graduates history in the Sofia St. Kliment Ohridski University, after which he becomes a PhD student at the Institute of History of Bulgarian Communist Party, affiliated to the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Until 1991 he is a research assistant in the same Institute. Since 1991 he has been Head of the Center for historic and political studies affiliated to the Supreme Council of the Bulgarian Socialist party. Since December 1996 Parvanov has been Head of the Supreme Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party..."
So you see that his "history" was not any kind of history but history of the Party. To put the matter rudely, we have no proof that Parvanov has ever in his life done any work worth 2 cents (btw this is also true for our PM Sergey Stanishev, also a Socialist).
Strangely enough, in his relatively modest career as a historian, Parvanov still managed to stain his name by tying it to the State Security - the Communist Secret Services. He was asked by the State Security people to give his expert opinion about a book devoted to Macedonian history. He wrote a text and signed it by "Gotze" (in Macedonia, men named Georgi are often informally called Gotze). This fact surfaced several months ago. Parvanov tried to vindicate himself by saying he was only giving an expert opinion, as any expert would do. However, there are at least 2 reasons not to whitewash him. First, if the State Security wanted just an expert, why didn't they summon an expert? Why did they turn to an unexperienced researcher who seems to have always been an embodiment of mediocrity? Second, more important, why didn't he sign his opinion with his real name? When in 1990 the opposition politician Peter Beron was revealed to have written reports for State Security under the pen name "Boncho", my uncle said, "Of course, nobody could refuse to testify when subpoenated by State Security. His fatal mistake was that he accepted a pen name and so entered the game. (Peter Beron was among the presidential candidates at the 1st round last Sunday. An unfortunate country, isn't it?).
According to his Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Parvanov), Parvanov "is in favour of Bulgarian membership of NATO and the European Union". Yes, he is now, when the NATO membership is a fact and the EU membership is inevitable. But in the meantime, he did everything he could to prevent Bulgaria from entering these unions. Well, this was according to his views, but why is he now pretending to be more pro-Western than people like me?
But let the distant past bury its dead, while we see Parvanov's performance as President. Generally, nothing special; according to the Bulgarian constitution, the President, although elected directly by the people, has little real power. But I don't like the little things he did. He decorated with the highest-rank Bulgarian medals nasty people such as the leader of the Turkish party Ahmed Dogan, the arms dealer and former publisher of Socialist newspaper "Duma" Peter Mandjukov, Todor Zhivkov's alcoholic son in-law Ivan Slavkov (ordered out of the International Olympic Committee after BBC journalists exposed his corruption) and, most importantly, Vasil Mrachkov, who was Chief Prosecutor during Todor Zhivkov's campaign of renaming Bulgarian Turks (1984-85). Among the few important items where the President has real power is dealing with foreigners wishing to remain in Bulgaria. Parvanov uses this power to reject the right of asylum to people fleeing "friendly" dictators (I've posted about one such case at http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-about-michail-vashkevich.html); I also know about a hard-working Russian mother of two who, without claiming to be a refugee, hoped to build a new life in Bulgaria but was kicked out. Meanwhile, every time when a foreign-born gangster is shot in the street by rival gangsters, he turns out to be a naturalized Bulgarian citizen. Last, a small but telltale fact - Parvanov periodically organizes charity campaigns for children in orphanages and sick children and takes care to snach all the credit for the results, forgetting the ordinary citizens who donate small sums, literally taking them out of their mouths.
Nevertheless, now people considering themselves democrats are appealing to us to vote for Mr. Parvanov. Here comes even Hans-Gert Poettering, the Chairman of the (rightist) EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament. I haven't heard him before the first round to speak in support of the rightist candidate Nedelcho Beronov, but now he summons the rightist Bulgarian parties and their electorate to vote for a "democratic candidate, even though he is our opponent". (Remarkably, the appeal is dated Oct. 23, just a day after the 1st round, which most likely means it was prepared beforehand.)
In principle, I don't entirely reject voting for a candidate with a programme not matching my views. I have actually done this - at the 2nd round of the last municipal elections, I voted for Socialist Tatyana Doncheva in a desperate effort to prevent the dangerous populist and Neanderthalian sex symbol Boyko Borisov from becoming mayor of Sofia. However, the candidate I would vote for must be a reasonably decent person. Parvanov isn't.
The arguments of Bulgarian commentors telling us to vote for Parvanov can be summarized as follows: "If we elect Siderov, all the Europe and the world will regard us as xenophobic idiots. And besides, imagine what will happen if Siderov is elected and begins to materialize his hateful agenda!"
Well, why should we try to conceal our nature of xenophobic idiots? I am for openness. Any attempt to present ouselves as people better than we actually are can only lead to later misunderstandings. Besides, even in countries with much more powerful democratic tradition elections frequently turn into census of idiots.
As for Siderov materializing his agenda, it's impossible. You cannot set up concentration camps for Gipsies, Jews, Turks etc. in 2006. This is not Germany, 1943, this is not even Bulgaria, 1984. Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, Bulgarian President is mainly a figurehead. If somebody is to set up concentration camps, this is the Prime Minister. Check the Constitution. So Siderov is just a scarecrow.
Somebody might say, "But your call to neglect the danger to minorities is a bit dishonest, after you are not a minority member."
Here I have a counter-argument I deliberately left last, the cherry on the cake. Why do you think that Parvanov is better? Siderov offers much xenophobic talk, but as far as I know, he has never supported an actual genocide, while Parvanov openly supported the "Butcher of the Balkans" Milosevic. As late as 1999, he sent to Milosevic an encouraging letter. So we have all the reasons to believe that if creating concentration camps (or any other form of genocide) becomes practically possible and socially acceptable, Parvanov would go ahead with it.
At the 1st round of any elections, there is always if not a good candidate, then one who can be regarded as lesser evil. At the 2nd round, there often isn't. So I won't vote on Sunday and recommend the same to everybody. Let the idiots elect the idiot they prefer.
Monday, October 23, 2006
However, I postponed making this matter public till the middle of the 3rd trimester. My pregnancy-and-maternity leave began on Saturday.
Of course most of the things I intended to do before "retiring" remained unfinished. I even left some glassware soaked, prepared for washing. Sorry, but I really couldn't do anything about it. I had calculated time to wash it, but on Friday I had to go home early to comfort the running nose of my son (my elder one, as I begin to think of him). Another piece of work I really had to finish (a blueprint for a new practical) was ready, or rather declared ready, in the very last moment. I presented it to my colleagues literally an hour before I left.
A note about my e-mail: Avoid using my office address - I'll visit that computer too rarely and the mail may stay unchecked for more than a month. I've opened a Gmail box and hope it will function properly. (Thanks to Programmer Craig who gave me the idea just in time.)
Sunday, October 22, 2006
There will be a ballotage next Sunday, because fewer than 50% of voters have taken part.
As you can guess, I am not happy with the results. Parvanov being challenged by Siderov for the presidency! I'd prefer to have for President a man picked randomly from a village pub.
Why are people such idiots?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
He is the candidate of the right-wing alliance - the best part of the Bulgarian political spectrum. As for his personal qualities, although I haven't had the opportunity to follow the campaign in detail, I have impression of him as a decent, serious, composed man. As far as I know, nobody so far has managed to dig out anything compromising from his past life (e.g. using his position to enrich himself, building his career on loyalty to the Communist regime or ties with the former State Security). Just see what his opponents and the media resort to in their efforts to say something against him: that he is too old and not known to the public!
Yes, Mr. Beronov is old. So what? He is not applying for the position of a sergeon or programmer. There is nothing in the job of a President that makes an aged person unable to do it. Despite his age, Greece's Konstantinos Karamanlis did excellent work, not to mention the great Ronald Reagan.
"But (if elected) he may die before finishing his term." This is true, but the same is possible, although less likely, for any younger person. So this statement rather points to the necessity to vote for a presidential candidate with a good candidate for Vice President. I quite like Juliana Nikolova, Beronov's candidate for Vice President. Compare her to the ridiculous figure of General Angel Marin, our current Vice President. Anybody knowing any reason for him to be made Vice President other than his love to Russia and despise to NATO (remember, he was dismissed from the Army by the previous president Stoyanov for publicly speaking against NATO while Bulgaria was applying for membership). There are jokes about him. The satirical paper Starshel once wrote, "Although I don't like President Parvanov very much, I pray every evening that no piece of his supper enters his trachea and suffocates him; because, if this happens, next morning Angel Marin will be our President." Another joke: Radio Erevan was asked whether it could name a presidential team worse than Parvanov - Marin. The answer, "Yes: the team Marin - Parvanov."
Having had low birth rate for decades and massive emigration of young people since 1989, Bulgaria now suffers from dysbalanced population structure with high percentage of aged citizens. Consequently, you'll hear in all corners of the public space how important the elderly people are and what more steps must be taken to improve their plight (of course, by adding more to the already unbearable tax burden of productive-age people). In the context of this "gerontophilia", it is even more bizarre to hear attacks against a candidate because of his age being repeated again and again by opponents and media and then parroted by retired voters.
The other argument against Mr. Beronov - that he is not known to the public, is, to my opinion, much worse. Who is in fact known to the public? I think of three groups of people: (1) those already in the political establishment; (2) those known because of the nature of their work, such as top actors, singers and athletes; (3) those made known by the media. Should we restrict our choice to members of these groups only? Can we trust the media that they will make the right people known to the public in time? No, we cannot. Let's just remember the rabid media campaigns against the two reasonably good governments we've had since 1989 (those of Filip Dimitrov and Ivan Kostov) and their permanent and equally rabid anti-Americanism. Or their nuclear lobbying. Who in fact funds these media, allowing the Skat TV channel to be broadcasted and the thick illustrated copies of Trud and 24 chasa to be sold at 0.70 leva? Isn't it ridiculous that people carefully hiding from the public are now brainwashing it not to vote for an "unknown" person?
If a candidate is little known, he will become known during the election campaign. Isn't this in fact the basic function of this campaign? If Bulgarian voters give an ear to the "argument" that an unknown person shouldn't be elected, this will have dangerous consequences exceeding far beyond the current elections. It will mean effective abolishment of our constitutional right to be elected. Yes, my Bulgarian reader, they are attacking your and my right to be elected, they impose on us, the "unknown" citizens, the role of a flock, while the right to actively participate in politics is reserved for a few "noblemen" selected by them. This must not pass.
Besides Beronov, there are only two candidates with chance to succeed - the current President Georgi Parvanov and the Ataka leader Volen Siderov. I don't want right now to engage in a "negative" campaign and to explain why neither of these men should be elected. The reasons are well known to all who live in Bulgaria and even to those who live abroad but occasionally check our political news. So, even if you don't like Beronov very much, regard him as the least evil and vote for him.
Among the other candidates, one deserves special attention: Georgi Markov (happily, no relation to me). He began his political career in the Union of the Democratic Forces (SDS) and now uses this fact to present himself as "the authentic anti-Communist candidate". He can speak damn well and will surely convince some to vote for him. But at times he betrays himself. I heard him say that his goal is "to go to the ballotage and to compete with the Socialist candidate Parvanov". So, his goal is not to win, just to displace Beronov. If you are hesitating, my reader, do you need another proof that Markov is in the campaign just to steal votes from Beronov?
Markov is widely believed to have collaborated with State Security (the former Communist secret service). It is impossible to prove, because the well-cleaned archive of the State Security now contains no document with Markov's signature, just a card with his name. So we can only speculate that his participation in these election is another task by his former masters. For those who still doubt, I suggest to have a fresh look at Markov's photo or videotape. Who could, in sobriety and sanity, trust a man with such a face?
(A photo of Markov, a small one unfortunately, is shown at http://www.bgbook.dir.bg/book.php?ID=16272.)
Monday, October 09, 2006
On Oct. 7, intrepid Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, 48, mother of two children, was assassinated in her home in Moscow.
The international community doesn't seem to care much. At http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5416238.stm, you can read the too short and cold (to my opinion) BBC obituary. Bulgarian media covered her life and death in more detail. Below, I'm translating from the Netinfo page http://netinfo.bg/?tid=40&oid=946991. The photo is also from there; it was originally published by her newspaper "Novaya gazeta".
"Anna Politkovskaya, called "The victims' voice", is known worldwide mainly for her uncompromising publications about the war in Chechnya and North Caucasia and her criticism of President Vladimir Putin's policies... She received many death threats... Her colleagues from "Novaya gazeta" wrote that it was absolutely impossible for her to be intimidated or bribed into silence... Since 1999, she has visited many times war zones and refugee camps in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya. She wrote the documentary book Journey to Hell: A Chechen Diary... Her fiercely critical book isn't accessible to the Russian readers... She told the British Independent newspaper that on Sept. 1, 2004 she contacted Chechen rebels and persuaded thom to allow Aslan Mashadov... to go to Beslan and convince the terrorists to free the children they had taken as hostages. Then she went to Beslan to secure a pass for Mashadov... But during the flight she had a cup of tea and so was poisoned..."
Putin and his gang prefered to let all hostages die rather than allow any opposition figure help them and so get some credit. Anna Politkovskaya, on the contrary, could never accept the murder of innocents. Neither the innocent hostages nor the innocent Chechens. Such a person in Russia apparently is not entitled to a natural death.