New socialist president-elect throws Bulgaria in a new political crisis

November 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

red-lightAs we have previously proposed, this puts Bulgaria back on the “Red Light of 25 Years of Communism…” as in 2013 and 2014.

A socialist general from the Bulgarian Air Forces took by surprise the recent presidential elections winning +60% of the vote. He has already declared his pro-Russian preference asserting Bulgaria may pull out from NATO and the European Union.

As soon as loosing the elections, the ruling political party resigned the government early Monday morning. Bulgaria’s constitution now demands that the president gives mandate to the opposing Socialist Party, who will reject it due to insufficient presence in Bulgaria’s Parliament. The president then returns a second mandate to the ruling party, which they claim will turn down promptly.

A temporary government is then to be formed by the President and current Parliament, as it was the case in 2013 and 2014. In term, the democrats will hope to win with majority the new parliamentarian elections in 2017, which will be the 11th consecutive government elections in Bulgaria for the past 11 years since 2005:

2005 Parliamentary Elections
2006 Presidential Elections
2007 Municipal Elections
2009 Parliamentary Elections
2009 European Parliament elections
2011 Presidential Elections
2011 Local Elections
2013 Early parliamentary elections
2014 Early Parliamentary Elections
2015 Municipal Elections
2016 Presidential Elections

 

What does all this mean for the Church in Bulgaria?

Unstable political situation in Bulgaria with pro-Russian policies proposes a problem for the ministry of virtually all Protestants in the country. With a great probability to be voted in through a pro-Socialist government, a newly proposed legal measure bans any and all foreign organizations, companies and citizens from providing funding or donating to Bulgarian religious denominations. This would ban not only foreign physical and legal entities from funding Bulgarian religious institutions, but also companies with foreign ownership that are legally registered in Bulgaria. Using state funding for “illegal activities” by religious denominations will be sanctioned with prison terms of 3-6 years.

With these sanctions in mind, the new legal measure embodies the following rationale:

  1. Churches and ministers must declare all foreign currency money flow and foreign bank accounts
  2. Participation of foreign persons in the administration of any denomination is strictly forbidden
  3. Foreign parsons shall not be allowed to speak at religious meetings in any way shape or form especially religious sermons
  4. Anonymous donations and donorship to religious organization is not permitted
  5. Bulgarian flag shall be present in every temple of worship
  6. The new measure will block all foreign interference in the faith confessions and denominations in Bulgaria

Ukraine in Crisis: What’s happening?

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, News

PTS graduate Youry O. wrote us this morning:

S.O.S. Urgent Prayer request from Ukraine!
Dear friends! We ask you to take with us a heavy burden of prayer for our country, Ukraine and our family. As you may know from watching the news, for the last three months our country was struggling from protests and violent clashes between police forces and protesters who tried to overpower corrupt pro-Russian government in the country. There are more then a hundred people killed and tortured, thousands are wounded already. After the former president of Ukraine fled to Russia, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, commanded its military forces to invade Crimea (Southern Ukraine), and now there is a serious threat that they will advance into all Eastern part of Ukraine where we live. People are frightened. Economy is staggering. If the conflict escalates on the international level it may even grow into a WWIII. We ask you to think that suddenly some else’s war may very soon consume all of the world. Please, ask your church, your friends and families to pray for safety of our family, for the peace in Ukraine, and for the peace to all of civilized humanity. We do not want our children to see the war in there homeland! Please, do not stand aside.

frame_ext1-300x168[1]DECLARATION OF THE UKRAINIAN CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS ABOUT THE FOREIGN AGGRESSION

Who’s in charge of Ukraine?

  • Russia’s take: Viktor Yanukovych remains Ukraine’s elected leader, and Ukraine’s new government is illegitimate. Russian United Nations envoy Vitaly Churkin called it an “armed takeover by radical extremists.”
  • Ukraine’s take: Ukraine has a legitimate government and is set to have new presidential elections on May 25. “Let’s give an opportunity for that to work,” Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. Yuriy Sergeyev said.
  • United States’ take: Yanukovych abandoned his post last month, fled the country and was then voted out of office by Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament.

How many Russian troops are inside Ukraine?

  • Russia’s take: Russia hasn’t said how many troops it’s sent into Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s take: Russia has sent military ships, helicopters and cargo planes to deploy 16,000 troops into Crimea since February 24, Sergeyev told the United Nations on Monday.
  • United States’ take: Russian forces “have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula,” a senior U.S. administration official told CNN on Sunday, with estimates of 6,000 Russian ground and naval forces in the region

Do Russian troops have a right to be in Crimea?

  • Russia’s take: Yes. A treaty between the neighboring nations allows Russia to have up to 25,000 troops in Crimea, Russia’s U.N. envoy said Monday, adding that Yanukovych requested that Russia send military forces.
  • Ukraine’s take: No. Russian troops amassing in Crimea and near the border with Ukraine are an “act of aggression.”
  • United States’ take: No, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing a dangerous game. The consequences of military action “could be devastating,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Monday.

Why is the tense standoff unfolding now?

  • Russia’s take: Russia has said its parliament approved Putin’s use of military force to protect Russian citizens in the Crimean peninsula.
  • Ukraine’s take: There’s no evidence of any threat to Russians inside Ukraine. Russia wants to annex Crimea.
  • United States’ take: Russia is responding to its own historic sensitivities about Ukraine, Crimea and their place in Moscow’s sphere of influence, a senior White House official told CNN Monday. Russia fears that Ukraine is falling under European or Western influence, the official said.

Leadership Crisis in Bulgaria

March 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

peopleAs Bulgaria is celebrating its Liberation Day on March 3rd, protests are still going on in most major Bulgarian cities. Neither the resignation of the Prime Minister and the leading party from the government amidst deepening economics crises, nor the appointment of a new patriarch to the Orthodox Church was able to calm the crowds who have been out in the streets for weeks now. General government elections are scheduled for May 12, 2013 while the President is working with parliament on forming an interim government.

After the last election some four years ago, political analysts working closely with our ministerial team warned that if newly elected government continues to use the same local level (city, municipality) political paradigms to run the country as a member of the European Union, crises will be inevitable.  This was obvious even to the social concern grassroots including our chaplaincy program and para-church ministries.

Two years later, as half of the parliamentarian term has passed, we further advised in “Election’s Perspectives for Bulgaria” that as Bulgaria’s Prime Minister elect did not take the much expected place as a presidential candidate, his political strategy has been strongly criticized by his opponents as inadequate and insufficient to answer Bulgaria’s current crises. Amidst the global economic collapse, it was reasonable to suggest that similar socioeconomic shifts will not be long before appearing in Bulgaria.

The year 2013 began with a political distress in one of Bulgaria’s ethnic parties through a “backstage” attack against their soon to resign leader. The opposition responded immediately releasing a secret dossier code named “Buddha” revealing the Prime Minister working as a secret agent for the communist government police. His resignation, along with the resignation of the whole Cabinet, followed less than two weeks later as protests swept the streets of Bulgaria in the month with lowest temperatures, highest electric bills and of course highest rate of the government disapproval.

Meanwhile, after almost entering Bulgaria’s parliament in 1997, the Bulgarian Christian Coalition, traditionally representing the Protestants in the country, remains on the borderline of any political existence. Bulgarian evangelicals were never able to reach their political legacy again, although the new Bulgarian census showed over 25% increase of evangelical population in Bulgaria to some 65,000 people strong. The alternative party, Christian Democratic Forum has showed no political activity since it was established a decade later and quickly defeated by having less than 1,000 votes nationwide. The Bulgarian Christian Coalition has also chosen not to run in the upcoming elections.

Bulgarian Orthodoxy in Crisis

July 25, 2004 by  
Filed under News

July 25, 2004: Bulgaria should not allow religion and policy to be mixed, Parliamentary Speaker Ognyan Gerdhzikov said. In an interview for the private bTV channel Gerzdhikov said the new law used as a base for the July 21 church raids was voted in 2002 aiming to overcome the schism of the Bulgarian Church. Last Wednesday police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Gerdzhikov pointed out that the Prosecutor’s order for the raid was legal, underlining, however, that the measures taken were not proper. The problem following the schism of the Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 24, 2004: Current arguments in the Bulgarian Church are due to real estate ownership according to Justice Minister Anton Stankov. Stankov explained that the police actions were legal. On July 21 police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The problem following the schism of the Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 23, 2004: The Supreme Cassation Court initiated legal proceedings against the so-called Alternative Synod of Inokentiy. One of the charges is illegal possession of property. The case has been referred to the National Security Service. Meanwhile, Inkentiy and priests from his synod demanded the resignation of chief prosecutor Nikola Filchev because of his interference in church activities. The priests met with MPs. However, no MPs from the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) and from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) attended the meeting. Inokentiy said that he struggled for the churches, not for the church properties. Bulgarian ex PM and leader of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria Ivan Kostov read a declaration of the United Democratic Forces saying that some Bulgarian state institutions violate basic human rights and freedoms. MP from the NMSII Borislav Ralchev tried to deny the attacks against the Government saying that the issue was not about state interference in the church activities. “There is no alternative synod. There is just one synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church”, leader of the parliamentary faction of the New Time Miroslav Sevlievski said. The church, the Holy Synod and Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim have to decide on the solution of the problem, BSP MP Tatyana Doncheva said.

July 22, 2004: Priests from the dissident clergy headed by Metropolitan Inokentii served a mass in font of the Saint Sofia church in Bulgaria’s capital. The holy men protest against yesterday’s controversial police raids to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Later on Thursday representatives of the dissident clergy headed by Metropolitan Inokentii met with MPs from all Parliamentary Groups except for the Bulgarian socialists. The holy men urged for the resignation of Bulgaria’s Chief Prosecutor Nikola Filchev. Police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests Wednesday. The problem following the schism of Bulgarian Church has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime.

July 21, 2004: Bulgarian policemen scuffle with a priest as they detain him Wednesday at St Parashkeva church in Sofia July. Police tried to force dissident clergy from 18 local churches in an escalating schism in Bulgarian Orthodox community. Police stormed through 250 churches countrywide and detained many priests Wednesday in a controversial raid to restore proprietorship of official Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The problem following the schism of Bulgarian Church, dating three years ago, has established two Orthodox community centers, one headed by Patriarch Maxim and the other claiming he had been “appointed” by ex-communist regime. In Sofia alone, priests were forcefully dragged out of 18 churches alongside present laypeople. The dissident clergy headed by Father Inokentii is determined to stay vigil in front of their churches until allowed back into them. arises.