Category Archives: News & Views

Remembering Bulgarian novelist and playwright Georgi Markov

The Bulgarian novelist and playwright Georgi Markov was a Communist-era dissident best known outside Bulgaria for being assassinated with a ricin-poisoned device (believed to hidden at the tip of an umbrella). It happened in central London on September 7, 1978. He died four days later, age 49.

The murder was a textbook case of a KGB-style killing and was likely the work of the Bulgarian Communist regime’s secret police. One can read about it at The Forensic Library in books published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and on Wikipedia or watch movies about the case on YouTube here and here. It is known as the infamous “Umbrella Murder.”

To many of us in Bulgaria, Markov is a hero. His closest friend, Dimitar Bochev, aptly stated that it was his “talent” as a writer that got him killed. I’m proud to tell you why as part of this weekly series on

In the 1950s and 1960s, Markov emerged as a prolific author of novels, short stories, and plays, for which he received numerous awards. As he became increasingly and devastatingly critical of communism and socialism, the regime of Todor Zhivkov (long-time Communist dictator of Bulgaria) began keeping an eye on him. The country’s censors blocked the printing of some of his works and banned others altogether, but that didn’t prevent him from becoming a well-known and admired author in his native land.

George Orwell was Markov’s favorite author, and Orwellian themes showed up in much of his writing. Markov’s novel, The Roof, for example, focused on the collapse of the roof of the Lenin Steel Mill and the comical efforts of central planners to rebuild it. It was banned by the government.

“Not to Live by Lies” was Markov’s credo, as much as it was that of fellow writers Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Russia and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia.

A popular Bulgarian literary fashion of the 1960s involved a small group of extraordinary and original authors, relatively carefree and nonchalant fellows of which Markov was one. For the most part, they were not overt rebels, but they did resent the daily lies imposed upon the Bulgarian people by communism. The characters of their novels were normal humans with doubts and weaknesses, regular people dealing with the challenges of life. Under communism, those challenges were ubiquitous. These writers fostered a quest for normalcy which, twenty years later, helped mightily to topple the regime.

“Not to Live by Lies” was Markov’s credo, as much as it was that of fellow writers Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Russia and Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia. In an essay he wrote comparing communism with the years before 1944, he explained that the most important change was that people were forced to live in fear and lies. Bulgaria, like the other East bloc communist nations, was an Orwellian nightmare come to life.

Remember the Russia Collusion Hoax?

Top 10 Propagandists Who Pushed Russia Collusion Hoax

Here are ten of the top promoters of the narrative:

CNN — CNN first reported that President Trump was briefed on the “pee dossier,” which prompted BuzzFeed to publish the dossier in full. CNN has also given vast amounts of airtime to analysts, former officials, and Democrat lawmakers pushing the Russia collusion narrative. It has also published a number of stories that advanced the narrative, including several that turned out to be false.

BuzzFeed — BuzzFeed first published the “pee dossier” in full — which released to the public unfounded accusations against President Trump, including the unverified claim that he hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed during a visit to Moscow in 2013. At the time of publish, the dossier remained “salacious and unverified,” in then-FBI Director James Comey’s own words.

The Washington Post — The Washington Post was on the forefront of publishing anonymously-sourced stories suggesting collusion between Russia and Trump campaign officials. It published the intelligence leak that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak that led to his firing later. Flynn ended up pleading guilty to one count of lying. There were no collusion charges.

The New York Times — The New York Times published a front-page, top-of-the-page story on Inauguration Day suggesting that President-elect Trump’s associates had been “wiretapped.” Though the report admitted, “It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself,” it set the very inauguration of President Trump as part of a Russian conspiracy.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — Schiff, now the House Intelligence Committee chairman, has been the No. 1 pusher of the Russia collusion hoax in Congress. Absent any direct evidence of collusion, Schiff has argued for months that the evidence is “hiding in plain sight.” Schiff has also tried to fundraise off of the hoax.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) — Lieu has been a close second to Schiff’s promotion of the Russia hoax in Congress. He once called for a pause in the “entire Trump agenda” until an investigation into the collusion ties was completed.

Benjamin Wittes — Wittes, a journalist who is close to former FBI Director James Comey, was a lead inciter on Twitter of the Russia hoax, infamously tweeting cannon gifs every time a new sensational report came out that advanced the Russia collusion narrative.

Louise Mensch — Mensch, a former British parliamentarian, has become a household name among the anti-Trump resistance in the U.S., with her fantastical tweets about “sealed indictments” and grand juries.

Hillary Clinton — Clinton, the day after losing the election to Trump, wanted to promote the idea that Comey’s reopening of the investigation into her emails and Russia led to her defeat, according to the book Shattered. “She wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way,” a Clinton ally told the book’s authors.

Robby Mook — Mook was the first Clinton campaign official to go on record suggesting there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, during an ABC News interview at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, shortly after stolen DNC emails were released.

Horribly biased pro-Russian article about Crimea in WaPo

Points I’d like to correct or see included:

1) the “vote” was an absolute joke, tightly controlled by armed men, and not even Russian media was allowed .

2) From what I understand, lots of Russian pensioners, following Moscow’s encouragement and moved to Crimea. Population displacement has been a Russian / Soviet strategy for centuries.

3) Two points for historic context:

a. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, 55% of Crimeans voted to join independent Ukraine.

b. As part of Ukraine giving up it’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, Moscow signed the Budapest Memorandum, promising to recognize and respect Ukraine’s borders.

Ukraine gets serious about Corona Virus countermeasures

All of this and more at Ukraine Business News.

🔵Starting today, foreigners without residency permits are barred from entering Ukraine. Starting tonight, all international flights, trains, and buses to and from Ukraine are suspended for two weeks. As of tonight, all train service stops between Ukraine and Poland, Moldova, Russia and Slovakia. Airports will only be open for cargo flights. The measures are designed to block, or at least slow, the entry of coronavirus from the EU, officially named by the World Health Organization as a hub of the global pandemic.

🔵Almost half of Ukraine’s 230 border crossings are closed through Friday, April 3, Serhii Deineko, head of the State Border Guard Service told reporters on Saturday. The 107 that will remain open have largely been selected to keep Ukraine exports and imports moving.

🔵“Cargo checkpoints – air, railway, sea and automobile – will continue to operate,” President Zelenskiy said in video address Friday night. “Crews of ships, airplanes, trucks can enter Ukraine and are obliged to undergo medical verification with rapid tests.”

🔵This means Polish truck drivers can drive into Ukraine. Poland is Ukraine’s third largest trading partner, after China and Russia. In one sign of cargo disruptions, Ukrainian trucks traveling from Italy are stopped on Slovenia’s western border, reports Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister. Similarly, trucks traveling from Italy to Croatia or Hungary are not allowed to drive out of Slovenia.

🔵Maxim Nefyodov, head of the State Customs Service, clarified on Facebook: “All major [Ukrainian] checkpoints will operate, including major airports, ports, landing points. The restrictions will apply to certain local checkpoints, pedestrian crossings, low-load railway crossings.”

🔵In a next step, Prime Minister Shmygal asks Ukrainians to stop traveling within Ukraine as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus. “I also ask you, very insistently…to stop travelling between the cities of Ukraine,” he said in a video address posted Saturday night on his Facebook page after an emergency meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

🔵This week’s air travel bans will brake Ukraine’s double digit air passenger growth. In the first two months of this year, the flow of air passengers using Ukrainian airports was up 15% y-o-y, to 3.2 million. The State Aviation Service reports that last year, air passenger growth was up 18.5% y-o-y, to 24.3 million.

🔵At checkpoints on the line of control with Russia-controlled Donbas, only Ukrainians registered as living in Kyiv-controlled Ukraine, will be allowed to cross. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Friday: “We now have preliminary information about 12 cases of coronavirus in Horlivka.” Horlivka is in the separatist section of Donetsk Region.

🔵After a 71-year-old woman returning from Poland died Friday in Radomyshl, Zhytomyr Oblast, authorities placed the entire city 110 km west of Kyiv under lockdown. In response to Ukraine’s first coronavirus fatality, authorities closed markets, stopped bus service, and started checking everyone driving in or out of the city of 15,000.

🔵With 40% of Ukraine’s migrant workers going to Poland, the suspension of flights and trains will cause problems for many, including involuntary overstays of the 90-visa free Schengen limit. If borders are not fully reopened, farms in Poland and Lithuania will lose Ukrainian migrant workers crucial for cultivation and harvests, reports the Kyiv Post in a survey story. The National Bank of Ukraine predicts that labor remittances will decrease slightly from the current level of $1 billion a month.

🔵Preparing for a possible Italy-size epidemic, Zelenskiy said that 2,000 infectious disease physicians and 5,000 nurses are ready to staff designated hospitals with a total of 12,000 beds. For a nation of 37 million people, he said the government is preparing this week 200,000 rapid tests and 10 million masks.

🔵Turning to employers, the President appealed: “I personally ask business executives – if possible, allow your employees to work at home, remotely. Especially those who have children and who cannot leave them because of quarantine at schools and kindergartens.”

🔵The coronavirus disruption of China’s role in global supply lines offers opportunities for Ukrainian companies to supply components and semi-finished products to EU manufacturers, argues Hennadiy Chizhikov, president of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The spread of coronavirus can cause large-scale changes in the distribution of production and the creation of new production chains,” Chizikov said Friday at a business forum in Lviv. He said some EU companies are studying transferring orders for components to suppliers in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey.

Chernobyl shocker as fungi that eats radiation found inside nuclear reactor

A type of black fungus that eats radiation was discovered inside the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

In 1991, the strange fungus was found growing up the walls of the reactor, which baffled scientists due to the extreme, radiation-heavy environment.

Researchers eventually realized that not only was the fungi impervious to the deadly radiation, it seemed to be attracted to it.

Slovakia effectively bans Islam from country, forbids mosques

Since 2016, Slovak laws makes it impossible for Islam to become a state-recognized religion. Slovakia has adopted measures making it difficult for Islam to become one of the country’s officially recognized religions, making it the European country with the toughest laws against Islam in all of Europe.

In 2016, two-thirds of deputies, including opposition ones, voted in favor of laws submitted by the governmental Slovak National Party (SNS) that required religious groups in the country to have 50,000 followers to run their schools, open religious establishments or qualify for government subsidies. The law previously required only 20,000 signatures.

According to official sources, Islam, which was primarily targeted by the law, has a maximum of 5,000 followers in Slovakia.

Flashback: Bernie Sanders Says JFK’s Opposition To Castro Regime Made Him Want To “Puke”

In 1986 Bernie Sanders reminisced about watching the 1960 presidential debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon and how it made him sick to hear them talk tough about Fidel Castro’s uprising.

Panic In Ukraine Over Coronavirus As Evacuees Arrive From China

A sleepy town of 8,000 people in central Ukraine turned into a hot spot on February 20 as protesters clashed with the police and blocked roads to prevent evacuees from China from arriving at a local medical center for a two-week quarantine.

Nine police officers and one civilian were injured as a result of the clashes, and two criminal cases opened for violent attacks.

Residents of Novi Sanzhary in Ukraine’s Poltava region took to the streets out of fear that their town could be exposed to COVID-19, a coronavirus that has affected more than 75,000 and killed more than 2,000 people globally.

No cases have been registered in Ukraine, however.

“People are unhappy that our town is receiving these people,” local resident Serhiy Oliynyk told Zik television station. “Coronavirus is one of the most dangerous diseases that exist.”

Farmers are saving money to buy their rented fields.

Farmers are saving money to buy their rented fields. They are cutting purchases of combines and other farm machinery by up to 40%, says Alex Lissitsa, CEO of IMC, a major agrobusiness. He said: “Investments in technology will be suspended in the next two years. Everybody started to save all their money, as it’s likely that the banks won’t give big loans.” This spring the Rada is to pass a limited law allowing Ukrainian farmers to buy and sell up to 10,000 hectares. The market would start in October.

This and more at