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Bulgaria recovers ancient gold artifacts from smugglers

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's state security agency said it had recovered a trove of 15,000 priceless gold artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC from a smuggling ring. Officials said the collection, which included three gold necklaces worn by women of high social status, would be given to Bulgaria's National Museum of History.

Bulgaria taps export niches to escape doldrums

Bulgaria's economic outlook may be gloomy but Dragomir Kouzov, founder of bicycle manufacturer Drag and one of a new breed of niche entrepreneurs in the EU's poorest country, is anything but. "My motto is 'I believe,'" the smiling and energetic 52-year-old former professional cyclist, enthused to AFP, one of his state-the-art two-wheel creations suspended on the wall behind him. "We Bulgarians have a big chance to succeed in niche segments. Here there is cheap manual labour, creativity, innovation and the designing of original products."

Germany grapples with immigration from Bulgaria, Romania

Europe's top economy Germany is grappling with how to handle immigration from poor EU members Romania and Bulgaria now that their citizens can seek work anywhere within the bloc. Restrictions that barred residents from EU's two poorest states looking for jobs in some of its wealthiest members expired on January 1, sparking fears by some of mass invasion and so-called "benefits tourism".

Bulgaria farmland sale ban challenged before top court

Bulgarian lawmakers filed Friday a request with the constitutional court to overrule a controversial ban on sales of farmland to foreigners, arguing it breached Bulgaria's EU commitments. "Our request to the constitutional court is meant... to show that it is inadmissible to violate the rules of Bulgaria's European accession treaty," said Chetin Kazak, whose liberal MRF party initiated the move. Thirty-six MRF deputies and 19 lawmakers from the ruling Socialist party signed the petition for the top court to declare the ban unconstitutional.

Bulgarian president vetoes government plans to spend more

By Angel Krasimirov SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev vetoed a budget revision on Wednesday, saying the Socialist-led government had not shown enough transparency in its use of public money in the European Union's poorest state. Last Thursday parliament backed a plan to raise new debt in defiance of the government's opponents, including protesters who have been demonstrating for weeks against corruption.

Insight: Street protests reveal both Bulgaria's failure, success

By Gareth Jones and Tsvetelia Tsolova SOFIA (Reuters) - Business executive Sasha Bezuhanova feels her life has come full circle. More than two decades ago she took part in pro-democracy protests against Bulgaria's crumbling communist regime. Now 50, she is back on the streets with thousands of others to protest against endemic corruption in the Balkan country and to demand the resignation of the new Socialist-led government.

Bulgarian PM vows transparency on security chief issue

By Tsvetelia Tsolova SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's prime minister pledged on Monday to seek wide public support in picking a new head of state security after street protests forced the two-week old Socialist-led government to ditch its original candidate. Thousands of Bulgarians rallied to demand the government's resignation after it named a powerful media figure to the highly sensitive post without debate, a move critics said showed the lack of transparency in the European Union's poorest country.

Bulgarian PM defies protesters' calls to resign

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski on Sunday defied calls to resign from thousands of protesters still angry over his controversial appointment of the country's top security chief, even though he reversed the decision. About 15,000 protesters gathered outside the government headquarters in downtown Sofia on Sunday evening, according to police estimates. Smaller protests were also held in a handful of other cities. Many were waving Bulgarian flags and shouting "Mafia!", "Resign!", and "Red garbage!" in what amounted to the biggest rallies in the past three days.

Bulgaria's controversial new security chief will resign

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said Saturday he accepted the resignation of controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as national security agency chief amid continuing street demonstrations over his appointment. Peevski is a lawmaker from the Turkish MRF party whose backing is vital for Oresharski's two-week-old Socialist cabinet, which took office after protests brought down the previous Conservative government.

New Bulgaria government may struggle to govern

By Tsvetelia Tsolova SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's new Socialist-led government won a parliamentary vote of confidence on Wednesday, ending months of political impasse but lacking the broad backing that may be required to keep finances under control. The European Union's poorest member has been without a permanent administration since February, when street protests against low living standards toppled a government led by the center-right GERB party.
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