Enter content here
Fire Hell Rages in Bulgaria.
By the help of God we saved the village of Svode in Pravetz region, chief of the NSS Colonel Kiril Voynov said.
Hundreds of ha of forests and dry grass burnt yesterday in the country. The fire burnt houses in Montana region. Fortunately, there weren't victims. Huge fires raged near Sofia, Plovdiv, Lovech, Montana, Blagoevgrad, Pazardzhik and Vratza. In the region of Svilengrad a fire raging in Greece penetrated through the border. Bulgarian fire-men helped their Greek colleagues. 'By the help of God we succeeded to extinguish the fire near the village of Svode in Pravetz region, chief of the National Security Service Col. Kiril Voynov said. 'The fire reached the houses. Fortunately, it started raining and stopped the spreading of the fire', the chief of the fire-command said. The wind fanned up the fire in already extinguished centers. Carrying buckets of water the villagers from the neighbouring villages helped the fire-men in their struggle against the blazes.
Quake Registered 290 km Southeast of Sofia Outside Bulgaria.
Sofia, March 5 (BTA) - An earthquake measuring about 4.5 points on the Richter scale was registered at 7.25 a.m. Bulgarian time by the Seismological Centre with the Geophysics Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and by the Civil Defence Agency. It was epicentred some 290 km south to southeast of Sofia outside Bulgaria, the Civil Defence officer on duty said.
The quake was felt slightly in the southern parts of Bulgaria. No loss of life or damage to property has been reported.
World-Wide Earthquake Locator.
Last Thirty Days of Earthquake Activity from the QED.
NATO, EU & OSCE Start Exhumation In Ljubanci.
NATO TFF vehicle, the soldiers, and Ljubanci cemetery, photo taken today.
International Organizations in Macedonia apparently do not need any permission, and do not need to inform the Macedonian Government, or the public about their activities on Macedonian soil.
This photo was taken from a great distance because the access to the field is not allowed.
MACEDONIA TO ASK EURO 256 MILLION AT DONORS' CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS.
The Republic of Macedonia will request 256 million at the donor's conference that will be held on March 12 in Brussels," Vice Premier Zoran Krstevski said Tuesday for MIA.
The Macedonian delegation that will take part at the meeting will be led by Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski, and Ministers of finance, labor and social policy and local self-government, Nikola Gruevski, Bedredin Ibraimi and Faik Arslani as well as some state secretaries will also participate.
Krstevski stressed that the Macedonian Government adopted a Platform on the activities in Brussels, in which three levels of needs are determined that should be affirmed through the donor's conference.
Krstevski also explained that these are the means for the payment balance and the budget's deficit, which amounted to 185 million in 2002, then for the reconstruction of the facilities and the infrastructure in the crisis regions amounted tp 45 million as well as 25 million for implementation of the Framework Agreement in the first three years.
According to Krstevski, Macedonian presentation at the donor's conference was coordinated with the World Bank and the European Commission on the ground of jointly developed documents.
Krstevski expressed his optimism that Macedonia will get the requested means in Brussels.
"The assurances we obtained from the directors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank during their recent visit to Washington, the support that the European Commission permanently offers to us for the political dialogue and the reforms in the macro economy are supportive enough to expect that this donor's conference will be successful and part of the financial problems that Macedonia faces at this moment will be resolved," Krstevski said for MIA.
MINISTER BALKOSKI AT CONFERENCE ON TRANSPORTATION IN KIEV.
Macedonian Minister of Transportation and Communication Ljupco Balkoski, who is attending the second international conference on transportation in the Black Sea region, held in Kiev, met Tuesday with his Ukrainian counterpart Valery Pustovoitenko.
The meeting was focused on intensifying of the bilateral cooperation in construction on transporting corridors, Balkovski told MIA. In this respect, both Ministers signed an agreement on developing of traffic in the two countries.
Yesterday at the conference, Balkovski also delivered a speech about the transportation corridors in Europe and their cooperation.
The goal of the conference is development of the Black Sea regional transportation system as a link between Europe and Asia, which is based on specific characteristics in the region, its geographical location in meeting the transportation directions of axis west-east and north-south and possibilities for developed river and inland infrastructure.
Tomorrow, Balkovski is scheduled to meet with his counterparts form the Black See countries.
US Admits to NLA's Campaign of Killing, Beating, Looting, & Ethnic Cleansing.
MIA - US Department Of State
In spite of "NLA"'s assertions that they "struggle for human rights," the report indicates that numerous monitors believe that pan-Albanian movement has other motives, such as crime and imposing political control (conquest) of territories.
”NLA” members frequently used local residents as "human shields," forcing them to stay in their homes in areas of military operations, and even using mortars to bomb disobedient ethnic Albanian villagers of Malina Maala.
You can read the full report on the site of the U.S. Department of State.
Washington, March 5 (MIA) - US Department of State in its report on human right practices in Republic of Macedonia in 2001, published late on Monday points out that numerous violations in this area have been registered in Macedonia mainly related with the military conflict, MIA reports.
Threatening with violence the so-called NLA forced the Macedonians to leave their homes in the northern and western part of the country, reads the report.
The report also publishes information from the UN High Commissioner of Refugees according to which around 170,000 persons left their homes due to the conflict, but adds that the Framework agreement envisages conditions to be created for safe return of the displaced persons and significant progress has been made in that area by the end of 2001.
In spite of "NLA"'s assertions that they "struggle for human rights," the report indicates that numerous monitors believe that pan-Albanian movent has other motives, such as crime and imposing political control (conquest) of territiries.
Reminding that around 75 members of the Macedonian security forces died in the clashes but also unknown number of the so-called NLA, US Department of State points out some civilians were victims of the land mines planted by the Albanian terrorists.
The comprehensive report also includes information that two Macedonian civilians were killed in the same manner on Lesok - Zilce road, but also several members of the security forces as well as two EU monitors and their interpreter.
NLA members frequently used the local residents as "human shields," forcing them to stay in their homes in the villages struck by the military operations, deliberately increasing the risk of civilian casualties. According to the report, NLA attacked ethnic Albanian village Malina Maala with mortars, after the inhabitants refused their order to evacuate the village.
The US Department of State underlines that NLA terminated the water supply in Kumanovo for eleven days in June, causing serious health and humanitarian problems for the residents in the city.
According to the report, the violations of the human rights were registered from "both parties," although "NLA actively spread misinformation for the police, exaggerating the number and the importance of those abuses."
There is no information on violation of the human rights by the Macedonian Army, although some abuses occurred in the areas where both the police and military forces patrolled, reads the report. It is also stated that the "police has forced 45 residents from Kumanovo village Opae to leave their homes."
According to the information from the Department of State, even some "undisciplined police reservists" have violated the human rights.
Regarding the freedom of speech and press, the Department of State assesses that it has been guaranteed with the Macedonian Constitution, but "cases of imposing pressure on the media that criticize the Government" have been registered in 2001.
The conflict had negative impact on the media, especially on their objectivity, but after cease-fire was declared in June and the Framework agreement was signed, the objectivity of the media has significantly improved excluding the "reports on the ethnical issues."
The Department of State believes that "some Albanian journalists were invited to attend the informative talks," and also publishes OSCE reports that editor of the leading daily in Albanian language was threatened with death after he has published an article in which NLA was criticized.
The distributors of the foreign press must get an approval from the Ministry of Interior, but so far their requests have never been denied, the report says.
Foreign newspapers even from the neighboring countries are sold throughout the country.
The US Department of State positively assesses the respect of the academic freedom in Macedonia, pointing out the opening of Southeast European University in Tetovo, which provides higher education in Albanian language in the other areas, besides the pedagogy.
The violence and the discrimination of the women remain a problem, especially among the Albanian community in Macedonia, the paper concludes.
Rexhepi Rejects Chashules Accusations.
Two days ago, Macedonian foreign minister qualified Kosovo PMs statements about unilateral revision of state border as a declaration of war.
Rexhepis reply: Solve the problems in your own country first!
Prishtina, March 8 The prime minister of Kosovo Bajram Rexhepi rejected the allegations raised by the Macedonian minister of foreign affairs, Slobodan Chashule, who said unilateral revision of state border, with no prior agreement, is declaration of war. Rexhepi said this statement is insinuation by Macedonian government, Pristinas news agency Kosovalife.
"Passage of declaration by parliament against the agreement at the expense of Kosovo and submitting such declaration to the un security council is a national obligation. Such move should not be seen as inciting war," Rexhepi said.
Kosovos prime minister announced recently that Kosovo institutions do not recognize the border demarcation agreement signed by Skopje and Belgrade.
He underlined that some 2,500 hectares had been taken away from Kosovo and added to Macedonias territory.
Macedonian foreign minister raised strong objections to Rexhepis statement, noting that unilateral revision of state border is a declaration of war.
"We neither incite war nor we have any intention to attack anybody. This is an insinuation by Macedonian government," Rexhepi told the reporters in Pristina, adding that his intention is to defuse the growing tension in Vitina municipality and the border zone along Macedonia-Kosovo border.
Rexhepi gave a message to Macedonian government to solve problems in its own country. "We will comply with the un security council resolution 1244, and Macedonian government should also comply with the pledges set out in the ohrid agreement. The international factor will also comply with its commitments. This is the only way to restore stability in the region," Rexhepi said.
Parvanov Shakes Hands with 4,000 Guests to the Reception.
On Sunday night President Georgi Parvanov and his wife Zorka gave a reception in Boyana residence to mark Bulgaria's national day - March 3. The traditional cocktail party was attended by familiar faces from the political, cultural and secular elite. Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his wife Margarita were the first to greet the presidential family. Among the guests was also the chief of MG-corporation Iliya Pavlov. Ex-banker Ventsislav Yossifov had also come to shake hands with Parvanov. Yuliana Doncheva, one of the most beautiful ladies in parliament had also come to pay tribute to the national day. Deputy minister of agriculture Meglena Plougchieva spent a long time in the company of General Boiko Borissov. Former prime ministers Lyuben Berov, Filip Dimitrov and Dimitar Popov had established a circle of their own and talked politics. Absent from the group were only Zhan Videnov and Ivan Kostov who shun secular gatherings. Ex-foreign minister Dimitar Stanchov joined the company of the former premiers. Among the guests were as well writer Doncho Tsonchev, Hacho Boyadzhiev and Nikolai Haitov. Ivan Slavkov was seen at the reception with the daughter of his deceased wife Zheni Zhivkova. In his brief message of greetings the president raised a toast to the unity of which we recall only on the national holiday.
Gen. Borissov to Check up "Crown" in London.
IM Chief Secretary and Deputy Minister Boiko Kotsev will pay a visit to Scotland Yard.
IM Chief Secretary Boiko Borissov and Deputy Minister of Interior Boiko Kotsev are leaving urgently for London today, "Standart" learnt. There, they are to discuss the contract with "Crown Agents", top IM official said. The two of them have to be convinced of the good image of the British firm that was given the right to manage the Bulgarian customs offices, the same source elaborated. The major target of the visit is to step up the negotiations on Chapter 24 "Justice and Home Affairs" in line with Bulgaria's integration to EU. Borissov and Kotsev will have series of meetings in Home Office, Foreign Office, Scotland Yard and the criminal police. One of their most pivotal talks is with Mrs Angela Eagle, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Europe, Community and Race Equality. Their schedule includes a visit to the British Police Academy and to the headquarters of the Task Forces combatting drugs. Sofia and London are to concert joint measures against the illicit migration and economic crimes - smuggling and trafficking in drugs.
Simeon to Negotiate on Danube-Bridge 2 in Bucharest.
Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will leave on two-day working visit to Romania on March 9 and 10, the governmental news office said yesterday. The visit is at the invitation of the Romanian Prime-Minister Adrian Nastase. The major topic in the negotiations will be the start of Danube-bridge 2 project. During the business forum of the Stability Pact in Sofia, Erhard Bouzek gave a clear sign, that the financing of the construction works depends on the activity of Bulgaria and Romania, experts reminded.
BG Seeks Euro 220 Mln for Railway Line to Skopje.
The construction works on the railway Sofia - Skopje will worth 220 million euros, Foreign Minister Solomon Passy said after the yesterday's meeting with his Macedonian counterpart - Slobodan Casule. Both minister signed a mutual letter on political and financial support for the project's finishing. Resources will be sough also from NATO, EU, the Stability Pact and the World Bank. Sofia - Skopje railroad is 210-km long and is a key part of the Pan-European corridor No 8. Bulgaria should build other 2.5 km from Gueshevo station to the border, while more 55 km are left to the colleagues from Skopje, Passy elaborated. Some $110 million are invested in the project so far. 'Our EU and NATO integration is unbelievable, is the transport line between us is not established,' Casule said.
N. Mihailova Pressed to Declare Her Team.
Members of the UDF's National Council (NC) will insist today that Nadezhda Mihailova will announce the team, she will work together, if she wins the battle for the UDF leader's post. This is the last NC's sitting before the national conference of the democrats on Saturday and Sunday. Nadezhda Mihailova doesn't want to air the people she intends to invite in the National Executive Council (NEC), since a resistance is possible against many of them, maintain sources from the UDF headquarters. Two candidacies for chief secretary are so far available to Mihailova - Antoan Nikolov - chairman of the Sofia City Council, and Valentin Vassilev - former trade minister. Both of them are disputable figures in the UDF, as far as the first one is considered crony of Evgenii Bakardzhiev, who was expelled, while the second one - as discredited minister. Nadezhda had selected for foreign policy secretaries in the NEC either Petar Stoyanovich - ex-chief of her political cabinet in the Foreign Ministry, or Nikolay Mladenov. Yet, both of them have never been UDF members.
MPs Enraged at Minister Svinarov.
NMS and MRF deputies are angry at Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov, for his idea on disbanding the parliamentary groups until the November's summit in Prague. The issue affects the parliament and he can't air it, without consultations with us, majority MPs said yesterday. They will demand Svinarov to attend the joint sitting of NMS and MRF PGs, thus to transpire his concept. I'm disturbed by the fact that my idea is adopted too radically, Svinarov said yesterday. He admitted that he hasn't yet heard 'yes' from any of the parliamentary groups, including the NMS as well. The idea on PGs dissolving and the parliamentary union establishment engendered in the aircraft on his way to Brussels before the visit of President Georgi Parvanov, Svinarov elaborated.
ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER-POSTPONED VISIT.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Postpones Visit Over Volatile Situation in Middle East.
Sofia, March 5 (BTA) - Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has postponed his March 6-7 official visit to Bulgaria in connection with the complicated situation in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry's Information and PR Directorate said on Tuesday morning.
A date for the visit will be set via diplomatic channels.
Peres was to arrive in Sofia on Wednesday evening on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Foreign Minister Solomon Passy.
In 1990 the then Israeli foreign minister Moshe Arens visited Bulgaria after a 23-year break in bilateral contacts. During the visit Bulgaria and Israel signed a joint declaration on the restoration of diplomatic relations.
Prices of ABC Books To Up.
To now, "Prosveta" publishing house published textbooks for almost 80,000 first grade pupils per year. After the MoE approved other publishers, the print runs will drop and the costs of the primers will up. Yesterday, Minister of Education Vladimir Atanassov discussed a new option for a regulation concerning the textbooks at a meeting with publishers. The firms insist that the competition for approving the projects be open and not anonymous, as is the case now.
Deputy-Minister of Energy Appointed At Long Last.
Second Deputy-Minister Gati al-Jeburi took office in the Finance administration.
Two and a half months after the Energy Agency was transformed into ministry, the first deputy of Minister Milko Kovachev was appointed yesterday. Former vice-president of the Energy Agency - Angel Minev, was nominated to take over the post by order of PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Ever since August 2001, he was deputy of Milko Kovachev in the State Energy and Energy Resources Agency. Within the period 1999 - 2000, he was consecutively vice-president and act. president of the Energy Regulation Commission. The regulations of the Energy Ministry envisages Three deputies of Milko Kovachev. Gati al-Jeburi - also vice-president of the Energy Agency, was also expected to take the vacancy. He, however, will complete the second echelon in the Finance Ministry, replacing the dismissed Atanas Katsarchev. Al-Jeburi had even settled in his new office and anticipated soon the official order of the Premier.
PM To Speak Before 120 Companies.
'Economist' Forum brought to Sofia candidates for BTC.
Over 120 world companies will take part in the Third Round Table of the Bulgarian government and the foreign business, organized by 'Economist Group'. PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will open the forum today. Improvement of the investment climate in Bulgaria, the future of the IMF, the economic policy of the cabinet, the privatization and Bulgaria's accession to the EU, are among the topics of the closed door sessions. All economic ministers, as well as Apostol Apostolov - head of the Privatization Agency, Martin Zaimov - vice-governor of the Bulgarian National Bank, Piritta Sorsa - standing IMF representative to Bulgaria, and Dimitris Kourkoulas - head of the EC delegation in Bulgaria, will take part in the discussions. The director of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, representatives of Deutsche Telecom and Raiffeisenbank will also participate in the forum.
One 'Kamenitsa' Beer for Jackson.
The chief of the American NATO Enlargement Committee Bruce Jackson promised to treat the Bulgarian premier to a Prague beer if Bulgaria is invited to the alliance this autumn. Along with this however, the regular officer from the military intelligence surprisingly laid down a term before our country: to observe Gypsies' rights. Jackson admits that actually it is a problem of another candidate - Romania. However, it leaves something to be desired from us too. 'We want to see the Bulgarian government concerned over the problems of the Gypsies', Mr Jackson pointed out. Well, Mr Jackson, it is concerned. And even all the people is concerned. Because even in America no one can afford not paying his energy bill for several years? The West switches off the electricity of the debtors no matter whether they celebrate the Bayram or Christmas. We don't do so. All the time the Gypsies have been quietly watching television. Straight from the satellite. There is no ethnic or religious minority in Bulgaria to have been persecuted or punished for that. As Turkey is doing concerning the Kurds, by the way. For this reason our neighbor to the south is not admitted to Europe. However, the above reason is no obstacle to its NATO membership. It turns out that businessman Michael Chernoy is much more dangerous for the alliance than the illicit and armed Kurdish army. As far as our CC-23 missiles are concerned, we know they are horrible. You, Mr Jackson, are also aware of this. Nothing that in your view, they are not this important. Then, why should we scrap them? So that instead of promising Prague beer to the Bulgarian premier, you'd better have a 'Kamenitsa' beer. Men know why. And tell us frankly that we are not desired in NATO. For the time being. What would you use us for if we are without an army and missiles.
Shops at a 'Stone's Throw' Forbidden.
Everyday shopping - at the elite supermarkets.
The family business of hundreds of groceries in the country will be forbidden. No institution could give an information how many are this groceries. Only in the 'Mladost' residential district in Sofia there are more than 2,000 little shops for foodstuffs. The clients very aptly call them 'shops at a stone's throw'. They don't know how many the district groceries are, but they have drafted a project, which a month later will be submitted to cabinet for consideration. With it the shops made in garages and other ground premises will pass in the history of the Bulgarian commercial transition. Exactly these shops saved people during the difficult past months and years. Firstly, they provided foodstuffs, which often remained deliberately locked in the stores during the last 10 years. And secondly, they provided foodstuffs literally at a stone's throw. But the district groceries haven't fulfilled their mission yet. A granny with a loaf of bread in her hand standing in a garage-grocery says: 'How could they be forbidden?! Would BILLA give me anything on credit. In this shop the sellers waited two months for me to receive my pension and pay for my products'. A little bit further, again in a ground garage, there's a small shop for fruits and vegetables. 'If they close them, a kilo of apples will cost me double', a client says. From here to the big market in 'Mladost' 1 residential district there are 6 bus-stops. Thus if I use transport my apples become by 0.80 levs more expensive', he adds. BILLA, 'Oasis', 'Fantastico' and so on luxurious chain-stores have their place on the market. But neither by their prices, nor by their number they could provide for all the foodstuffs the Bulgarians need. But the consumers are poor and become even poorer. The retailers are scared already. Some of them see the big mouths of the big multiples behind this prohibition of the district groceries. May be. But if we continue to follow the rules of the free market economy we shouldn't close Uncle Pesho's shop in the neighbouring block by a decree, but should wait for the competition to take it over. And for now there's no trace of competition.
Oh, Rulers Have a Mail Again.
A letter ousted Videnov, Kostov received written complaints.
How does the Bulgarian letter of disaccord look? Firstly, it is secret. Secondly, it's long. It is addressed from some politicians to other their colleagues. Most often to their leader. The letter of disaccord has another important characteristic, too. It always turns into a public secret. One similar letter of disaccord provoked a sea of tears in the parliament. According to some sources, 17 MPs, according to others - 21 to 35, expressed their disaccord. By the economic and social policy. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha also answered in a letter, addressed to 21 MPs. It caused tears in the eyes of sensitive Stella Bankova. The guilty ones answered with letters of apologize. One thing became clear: a group of MPs are unaware of realities again. And the PM will take measures. Both Kostov's and Videnov's people wrote letters. And many others before them. There's not a leader during the last 12 years, who hasn't received open letters, a sign for last hope some ideas of some uniformly thinking people to be heard. The consecutive letter to power appeared in the press. Poet Stephan Tzanev threatened Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. This is the third letter of Tzanev. The historic one was entitled 'Jean, Go away with Piece'. Ivan Kostov received a similar letter, too.
There Will Be 'Every Sunday', but Presented by Kevorkyan Only.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Kiril Gotsev
We've been working on a Bulgarian soap opera titled 'Everyone Loves Gosho', says the new chief of the BNT.
Yesterday Kiril Gotsev was elected Director General of the Bulgarian National Television. To date he had been acting director of BNT. He now faces lots of problems the most important of which is to do his utmost for regaining the credit of the audiences.
- Mr Gotsev, are you aware of the difficulties you are to encounter in the management of BNT?
- I'm absolutely aware. I know it will be difficult to me but I'm ready to meet the challenge, called BNT.
- There was talk that you plan to bring former popular journalists to the television?
- Many of them wouldn't go back to a media they don't know. You know that the BNT is in a very bad condition.
- How will you protect the BNT from political pressures?
- I've been doing it for three months now. It seems to me however, that there was too much ado about it. It seems to me there are some speculations with definite programs. If a journalist doesn't take the side of the spectator, nothing will come out of it. I can't do more for them but give them freedom.
- Will you work with some of your rivals?
- Categorically yes. There is something good and positive in each one of the concepts of my opponents. Ivan Takev has already voiced his readiness to help. Regrettably, Dimitar Tsonev hasn't called me as yet.
- Will there be new faces in the BNT?
- Yes. Soon you'll see people who have never worked for us but are renowned professionals. Most of all I'll rely on the huge potential of the BNT.
- Will you restore the 'Every Sunday' program and who will be the anchorman?
- There will be 'Every Sunday' on the TV screen but only if it is presented by Kevork Kevorkyan.
- You declared you would fix the time of the programs according to their rating. When will you start arranging the programs?
- The monitoring is already under way. The first changes will take place soon. The anchormen won't have what to complain of. I will just show them their rating and that's all. They have to get to know to make programs which are good to watch.
- When will we feel the first results of your rule?
- They can already be felt. When the world football championship is over we shall switch over to another program plan. It will be absolutely different from the now existing one and I could promise rivals a major surprise.
- That yours is a political candidature was discussed a lot.
- There is no one behind me. I uphold neither political, nor corporate interests.
- How will you restore the credit of advertisers in the national television?
- By clear-cut and well-defined rules. We've already managed to win over the biggest advertiser - 'Procter & Gamble'. We plan to attract other firms around the time of the world football championship.
- When will the television turn into a public one?
- It is a long and difficult process. In the development of this process I'll count a lot on CEM. I think however that we've managed to lay the beginning of the public television.
Highlights of Bulgaria Report on Human Rights Practices Released by US Department of State.
Washington, DC, March 5 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, while there were improvements in some areas, its human rights record was poor in other areas, according to the 2001 Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the US Department of State.
Members of the security forces were responsible for some killings, but there were no reports of political killings. Police commonly beat criminal suspects and members of minorities, the report said. Arbitrary arrest and detention were problems. Security forces harassed, physically abused, and arbitrarily arrested and detained Romani street children. Problems of accountability persisted and inhibited government attempts to address police abuses. Conditions in many prisons and detention facilities were harsh. There remained some
instances of prolonged pretrial detention, although the Government has continued to improve its performance in preventing defendants' periods of pretrial detention from exceeding the statutory limit of one year, the report said.
The judiciary is underpaid, understaffed, and has a heavy case backlog; corruption of the judiciary is a serious problem, the report stated.
The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, more specifically the confidentiality of correspondence, the report said. The Government exerted undue influence on the media. There were limits on freedom of association.
The Government restricted freedom of religion for some non-Orthodox religious groups. Constitutional restrictions on political parties formed along ethnic, racial, or religious lines effectively limit participation in government for some groups, the report said.
Violence and discrimination against women remained serious problems.
Conditions for children in state institutions were poor, and because of a lack of funds, the social service system did not assist homeless and other vulnerable children adequately, notably Romani children.
Societal discrimination and harassment of "nontraditional" religious minorities persisted, but were less frequent than in the past year.
Discrimination and societal violence against Roma were serious problems. Child labor was a problem. Trafficking in women and girls was a serious problem, the State Department report said.