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Media Review: September 2

The campaign for the October 2 early parliamentary elections officially started on Friday and receives extensive media coverage. 
NOVA TV quotes former interior minister Boyko Rashkov, who is Continue the Change’s top-list candidate in the western city of Pernik, as saying that a coalition government may be needed, which will face an unstable majority. “This should not scare or discourage us. Politicians, however, should draw their conclusions from the fact that Bulgarians are difficult to elect people to lead them,” he said. 
GERB’s Desislava Atanasova, who is her party’s leading candidate in Ruse’s (on the Danube) 18th multimember constituency,  said that her party is presenting its agenda on a daily basis. “It may seem to you that we’re entering the campaign very energetically. This is not energy, but readiness to rule,” she said. According to her, the past 18 months were lost for the Bulgarian citizens, which is why GERB is ranked as the leading political force in opinion polls. 
*** “How to Navigate through Sociologists’ Data,” reads the headline of Bulgarian National Radio’s interview with Prof. Rumyana Stoilova, head of the Bulgarian Sociological Association. Stoilova says that her Association has published a table with information about the polling agencies, which can help voters find out more about how sociologists do their job. 
Stoilova said that at times sociology is being used “too arbitrarily”, noting the existence of phantom surveys. In most cases, polling agencies announce who has commissioned the survey, which are mostly media, she explained. According to her, agencies conducting surveys at their own expense is not a good practice.  “We need to be extra careful when we see deviations between the results of one party, given by different agencies,” she warned.  
Prof. Stoilova discussed the sociological interpretation of results in the media, which does not strictly follow the cited results. 
Central Election Commission (CEC) Public Council member Rumyana Decheva tells bTV that parties traditionally change their section election commission members at the last minute. The voting machines’ programming continues. The ballot, which will be made on CEC’s order, will have to be uploaded on the machines. The voting machines are currently being stored and protected by the State, she said, explaining that the ballots will be like the ones used in previous elections. 
The growing migrant pressure on Bulgaria is covered by the media on Friday.
Dnevnik quotes statistics released by the Interior Ministry, according to which the Ministry will open over 1,200 places for refugees in portables in the southeastern town of Lyubimets near the refugee accommodation centre there. This is necessary because of the increased migration pressure, which in the last week of August caused 90% of the places in the homes for foreigners at the Interior Ministry to be filled. In the last week of August, the accommodation centres were filled to 90% of their capacity (from 65% on August 21 to 90% on August 28). Between the beginning of this year and August, the number of detained illegal migrants in the country’s interior who were attempting to leave Bulgaria exceeded 9,000 people, which is significantly more than during the same period of 2021, when this number stood at just above 3,000 people. 
24 Chassa quotes caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev as saying that his Ministry’s internal security department and the State Agency for National Security are actively investigating police officers involved in human trafficking. He vowed that changes will be made and people punished, whom he described as being officers at the mid-level management in the police regional directorates. Demerdzhiev visited the Bulgarian-Turkish border with Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, who said that over 500 servicepersons from the Army will start helping with the border protection within a week in joint patrols with the border police. 
Capital: Banks’ profits have reached BGN 1.2 billion during the first seven months of 2022, which is an increase of almost 50% year-on-year. The result confirms the tendency of the sector’s strong performance, which started in 2021. The result confirms the trend of the sector’s overwhelming performance, which took shape in 2021 and which has been conquering new records in recent months, driven by increased lending activity. Banks are also currently not feeling any significant signs of a slowdown due to the domestic and global or the war in Ukraine. Last month’s profit alone was BGN 186 million, according to statistics on the performance of the banking system, published by the central bank.
At the same time, the reported profit for the period January – July 2022 is also higher compared to the pre-crisis 2019, when for the same period the overall profits of credit institutions in the country stood at BGN 1 billion.
Duma quotes Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Korneliya Ninova as saying in a Fecebook post that her partly is firmly against drilling into the northeastern region of Dobrudzha for shale gas. Ninova’s remarks came in response to statements by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said during a visit to Sofia recently that Bulgaria could be at the centre of shale gas extraction. According to Ninova, BSP supports the development of Bulgaria’s own energy sources in the Black Sea, but is firmly against fracking in Dobrudzha. 
The media also cover the energy regulator’s decision to increase the price of natural gas by nearly 19% for September. 
Sega: The tobacco warehouse at 51 Hristo Botev Street in the southern city of Plovdiv, which has just been protected as a cultural property, was demolished Thursday night, according to reports by Radio Plovdiv and the Pod Tepeto local media outlet. This happened despite the decision of the Specialized Council for the Protection of Immovable Cultural Property earlier on Thursday to grant the building additional protection and in defiance of the police, the Ministry of Culture and the national construction control directorate. At around midnight on Friday, caretaker Minister of Culture Veleslav Minekov arrived in Plovdiv for the second time that day. [there was a controversial demolition of a tobacco warehouse earlier] “Apparently there are people who underestimate the fact that I am the Minister of Culture. They underestimate the importance of preserving cultural heritage. I cannot allow this. Not only now at night, but I will stay here, I will call the police and this thing will not happen. This destruction is more than outragous!” Minekov said in front of the demolished warehouse. On his first visit to the city Thursday, he declared what was happening not only a disaster for Plovdiv’s architecture and history, but also a blow to the caretaker government. Minekov called the police and the local police chief arrived. The demolition was stopped, but according to local media, by that time the building had been almost completely razed to the ground. 
Nova TV also covers the news, quoting Minekov as saying that he will not allow the demolition of tobacco warehouses, which have been declared immovable cultural property during his second visit for the day to Plovdiv. 
Trud has reposted [translated] a commentary by author Tedd Rall for, headlined “In Actual Russia, No Sign of Sanctions”. We’re also being told that Russia is crumbling under the crushing blow of vicious Western sanctions deployed as part of the White House’s openly stated war aim that it wants “to see Russia weakened.” The Russian economy, it is said, is collapsing. Russian elites, they say, will soon overthrow President Vladimir Putin. Let me tell you firsthand: There is zero sign of economic distress in Russia. I’ve spent the last two weeks in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia’s two biggest cities. Stores are bustling; people are spending; unemployment is low and still falling; there are lines at ATMs and whatever else is happening, the economy is anything but bad. The Galeria Mall across the busy street from my hotel in Saint Petersburg has a few closed stores shut down by Western chains, but the majority remain, and consumers are shopping like mad. European and American tourists are few and far between, but it’s exactly the same here in sanctions-free Istanbul where I’m writing this. Westerners stopped coming at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown two years ago and still haven’t returned. If Russians are unhappy with Putin – and they’re not – it’s not because of the economy.