Ross Kemp - Todor Zhivkov - Stacey Dooley TV - Patrick Leight Fermor - Secrets of the Dead: Umbrella Assassin TV - Kevin Keegan - Dimitar Sasselov - Hans Christian Andersen - Geza Feher - Misha Glenny - Storyville TV - Rob Bell: British Planes that Won the War TV -
In 2007 Bulgaria joined the European Union. 18 months later the EU had to take drastic action against this new member state. Romany gangs from Bulgaria and its neighbouring counties are accused of making millions of pounds from pick-pocketing and prostitution on the streets of the UK. I meet gangs who see Britain as a soft target. Ross Kemp on Gangs s4e2: Bulgaria, Sky 2008
They don’t seem particularly upset at being apprehended. ibid.
On average they arrest around ten pick-pockets a week on the Tube. ibid.
There are gypsy gangs operating within the UK. ibid.
I’m in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. We’ve come here to attempt to uncover the truth about one of the most despised ethnic groups in Europe. ibid.
I’m saddened by the way these young women have to rule their lives. ibid.
I’m struck by the levels of poverty. ibid.
One in six is a gypsy. ibid.
Blood and Honour are an underground organisation. ibid. Kemp’s commentary
These people are highly organised. ibid.
The truth is always more complicated. ibid.
They admit to prostitution and to pick-pocketing. ibid.
The celebration of Communist ideas. A peaceful happy future for our children. We follow the Party programme for a developed Socialist society and our beloved Fatherland! I close the 10th Congress of the Bulgarian Community Party! President Todor Zhivkov
Every year millions of young Brits head abroad to party ... Tonight, I’m in sunny-beach Bulgaria where the cheap hotels and even cheaper booze means this resort is fast overtaking Cavos and Magaluf as Europe’s most explosive party paradise. Stacey Dooley: Booze, Bar Crawls & Bulgaria, BBC 2013
Bar crawls are big business here. Numerous companies run events at the same time, and the intense competition means they are constantly trying to outdo each other with better booze deals. ibid.
More sex shops than I’ve ever seen in one resort. ibid.
Magic is the street name for Mephedrone. ibid.
The lights of Tarnovo were beginning to twinkle in every window, the sun had set, and the prospect of my St Jerome-like hermitage loomed rather bleakly, especially compared to the gleaming interior of the grocer’s: the barrels of anchovies, the hanging flitches, the lamplight refracting a battery of bottles, the dried figs impaled on skewers of bamboo, the kegs and crates and jars and the pyramids of wares from Germany and Austria, the scarlet bacon slicer with its flashing disc of blade, the huge cheeses and the cubistic mounds of halva. It glowed like Aladdin’s cave.
But the shop was empty. A boy of about my own age who had been sitting reading a book on the doorstep got up and followed me in. Where was I from? Whither bound?
Cheerful alacrity and a friendly glance accompanied these questions. We were soon perched on the edge of barrels, clinking slivo glasses and exchanging autobiographies. Gatcho was the grocer’s son, and he was looking after the shop while his father was at some ex-officers’ anniversary celebration, a reunion of old comrades from the Balkan wars. Patrick Leight Fermor, The Broken Road
On September 7th 1978 Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian living in London, was travelling to work. Following his usual routine he left his car and crossed Waterloo Bridge. He had no idea that on this day he was being watched. As Markov waited for a bus he felt something sting his leg: he turned to see a man picking up an umbrella and running away. What seemed at first like a curious accident turned into an extraordinary detective story when three days later Markov died. Secrets of the Dead – Umbrella Assassin, PBS 2006
In 1969 when the authorities tried to stifle him by banning one of his novels and closing one of his plays he defected to the West. ibid.
An act of petty spite carried out by a ruthless dictatorship. ibid.
He [Georgi Markov] began to receive ominous phone calls from Bulgaria. His former country liked to warn him he would be punished. ibid.
Markov retaliated with his own form of revenge. He started writing scripts criticising President Zhivkov on Radio Free Europe. ibid.
Just as the investigation seemed to be stalling there was an unexpected breakthrough. News of a similar attack in Paris filtered through to Scotland Yard. Two weeks before the Markov incident another Bulgarian dissident named Vladimir Kostov had felt something sting him in his back as he exited the Metro. But unlike Markov he had survived. ibid.
These were the first known cases of someone injected with concentrated ricin. ibid.
Hungary is very similar to Bulgaria. I know they’re different countries. Kevin Keegan
I grew up in Bulgaria in a small city on the Black Sea Coast, so I was very interested in the sea, marine life, and everything related to it. But it was also a very dark place at night, so I could see the stars. And I just got very interested in it. Dimitar Sasselov
Is it not miraculous, the courage of the conquered Bulgarian people which rose to arms against an Empire. Hans Christian Andersen, diary entry
The Bulgarians were this nation, which – along with the Vikings – contributed the most for the organizing and forming of civilization in whole Eastern Europe. The Proto-Bulgarians organized the Bulgarian-Slavic tribes in one nation, in which the Bulgarian spirit and culture remained as a ferment/yeast for all times. Professor Geza Feher
In Bulgaria, the greatest heroes were not soccer or tennis players, but muscle-men ... the successful wrestler could expect public acclamation (and fringe benefits such as casual sex on tap), money, an apartment and a car (the last two being out of reach of all but the most feted youngsters). Pavlov would have anticipated this when he was picked out to attend the Institute for Physical Culture in Sofia), Bulgaria’s elite breeding ground for future Olympians. Misha Glenny, McMafia
The Bulgaria State Security Service was held in special regard by its Soviet masters for its efficacy and reliability. Usually invisible, it never disappointed on those occasions when it did catch the public eye – the DS masterminded the death of the Bulgaria dissident Georgi Markov, when working for the BBC in London, was struck down by a poison-tipped umbrella as he strode across Waterloo Bridge in 1978.
The business of eliminating enemies of the state Le Carre-style was mere icing on the cake. The most important and lucrative trade of the Bulgarian secret service was smuggling – in drugs, in arms and in high-tech. ibid.
The [Robert] Maxwell connection demonstrated how quickly some predatory Western businessmen linked up with proto-oligarchs from Eastern Europe to internationalise the asset-stripping of the new democracies. Maxwell was in the vanguard of a criminal industry that would run out of control in the 1990s – money laundering. Together with Prime Minister Lukanov, Maxwell arranged the transfer of $2 billion from Bulgaria into Western tax havens – subsequent Bulgarian governments were unable to trace what happened to this cash, although we do know that it did not end up in the Daily Mirror’s pension fund from which Maxwell was also stealing hundreds of millions of pounds at the same time. ibid.
For most Bulgarians, the early 1990s looked grim: the country had lost its markets; Pavlov and friends were skimming the economy of all its valuables; nobody wanted to buy Bulgaria's goods; and furthermore, now that Bulgaria was a fledgling democracy, the United States and the IMF wasted no time in demanding that Sofia meet its obligations and start paying off $10 billion worth of debt run up by the profligate communist regime. ibid.
SIC, VIS and later TIM became huge operations, diversifying into many branches of the economy, licit and illicit. It often seemed as if these people, and not the Government, were in charge of the country. ibid.
Bulgaria 1996: ‘The Bulgarians were desperate to sell arms.’ ibid.
Bulgaria 1996: ‘The Bulgarians were desperate to sell arms.’ Storyville: The Notorious Mr Bout ***** BBC 2014
Since the earliest days of flight Britain has designed and built some of the world’s most iconic aircraft. During decades of conflict the planes that Britain built helped build our nation. Rob Bell, British Planes that Won the War I: Sopwith Camel, Channel 5 2022
The story of World War I’s most deadly fighter plane: the Sopwith Camel. It revolutionised aerial combat. And inspired tremendous acts of bravery. ibid.