Archives for May2016


First Civil Protests

In collaboration with Jennifer Atanassova

In 1981 the Romanian chemical plant in Giugiu, Verachim, starts to operate. Poor installation and excessive load causes the systematic release of chlorine compounds in the atmosphere in amounts that are up to twelve times over the permissible norms. The management of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) takes no actions and leads no negotiations with Romania – for fear not to spoil the good neighborly relations. During this time, however, for the residents of Rousse everyday life becomes a struggle for survival. protest1

Analyses show 72 days of intense gassing per year. The number of respiratory diseases registered over seven years has doubled. The number of children born with disabilities has significantly increased. Infant mortality in the city has become 2 times higher than the average for Bulgaria. Nearly 20,000 people have left Rousse. All signals of the ecological threat to Rousse during 1984-1986 have been classified. The Communist government in Romania denies that there is a problem. protest4

On September 23, 1987 the BCP in Ruse makes hundreds of students at the age of ten come to the square in the city center for admission to the pioneering organization. The air is blue haze. Ambulances accompany the procession of the children to the front. Medical teams provide first aid to fainting children. However, nobody cancels the event.

This nightmare becomes the trigger for Tsonka Bukurova, Viara Georgieva, Dora Bobeva, Stefka Monova, Eugenia Jeleva and Albena Velikova – six women working as Technical Leaders and Assistants at the state-owned company for landscape architecture to plan and organize the first environmental protest in the country during the Communist regime. An interesting fact is that due to fear of reprisals, they swear before Bible that they will stick together in the endeavor and it helps them keep their courage. protest-organizatorki

On September 28, 1987 500 people gather outside the Party House to hold a peaceful protest while the District Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party is having a meeting in the building. A representative of the Party faces the protesters and assured them that they have already taken measures to stop gassing – which however happens only four years later.

The silence engulfing these protests is broken, though only in a local newspaper. An article related to the effects of chlorine attacks and the demonstrations is published. The issue becomes known on a national scale after the publication of materials in “Literaturen Front” and “Starshel” published materials for the air pollution in the city. From December 9, 1987 to January 22, 1988 Rousse artists organize an exhibition called “Ecology – Rousse 1987”, which is written about in all major newspapers in the capital. As a result, BCP persecutes the initiators of the exhibition and starts the propaganda for their exposure among the city residents. Due to the lack of any actions on behalf of the government, as much as the six ladies try to keep the protest civil, it takes on a political tone when an unknown perpetrator wrote on the building of the Dunavska Pravda newspaper “Down with the BCP”. protest2

On February 10, 1988 the weather is clear and no gassing has happened up to the moment. Nearly one hundred mothers with their babies in prams gather outside the Municipal Council of the Communist Party. More and more mothers join the demonstration and their number becomes over 2,000. This is also the day when the Member of the State Council and former Prime Minister – Grisha Filipov, is taking part in the Party meeting. He steps outside and talks to the mothers, assuring them that there is no more gassing. Right after the demonstration, however, a thick blue mist again descends over the city. The angry mothers refuse to disperse and to believe the propaganda any more. This civil and environmental protest becomes known ever since as the Protest of the Mothers with Prams. protest3

The filmmaker Yuri Zhirov of the Ekran studio team at the Bulgarian Television shoots the movie Breathe, which played a big role in the subsequent events. After the movie is broadcasted, there followed a mass enrollment in the newly established Public Committee for Environmental Protection of Rousse, which is the first dissident organization in the country. In reality, the Committee, however, fails to perform any activity. The Court refuses to incorporate it, the State Security interrogates many of the protesters, puts pressure on its members and forces its founders to give up any related activity.

In 1991 Verachim is closed down. protest5

Resources:
1. Breathe Documentary
2. New Old Stories – The Gassing of Rousse in the Eighties
3. How Jivkov Let Chaushesku Poison Rousse
4. Anatomy of a Civil Protest in Bulgaria towards the End of the Socialism: the Rousse Case

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Svetlin Rusev

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In collaboration with Jennifer Atanassova

One of the most famous musicians in the country and abroad, Svetlin Rusev is a violinist and a violin teacher and is internationally recognized for his talent and mastering skills.

He is born in Rousse in 1976. Although his dream is to become a fighter pilot, he takes his first violin lessons from his mother at the age of five and is admitted to the National School of Arts in the city.

In 1991, the famous clarinet player Mr Koycho Atanasoff invites him to a concert-recital in Paris. After the event, the young virtuoso is noticed by representatives of the Paris Conservatory and at the age of only 15 he is accepted to the Conservatory. Among his professors are Devi Ehrlich and Jean-Jacques Kantorow. In 1997 he settles in Paris and later on marries his now wife Fleur, together with whom they have two children – Chloe and George. Their second names are Mila and Simeon respectively. He speaks with them in Bulgarian only.

Since the year two thousand Svetlin Rusev has been a concertmaster in the Overn Chamber Orchestra. In 2005 he becoms a concertmaster of the French National Radio (RFI) Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2007 – a concertmaster of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. An interesting fact is that all the RFI Orchestra musicians are goodwill ambassadors to UNICEF and visit Africa and Latin America on various missions involving children.

Svetlin Rusev is awarded the 2006 Musician of the Year prize in Bulgaria. Throughout his career he wins numerous international prizes. Some of the most prestigious ones are from the competitions in Indianapolis and Melbourne as well as the Marguerite Long – Jacques Thibaud award. In 2001 he wins the Grand Prize, the Special Audience Award and the Special Award for the best interpretation of a Johann Sebastian Bach’s concerto at the First International Competition in Sendai, Japan. Svetlin Rusev plays a 1710 Camposelice Stradivarius, which is kindly provided by the Nippon Music Foundation.

Since September 2008 he has been a Professor in violin at the National Higher Conservatory in Paris. In Bulgaria, he leads master classes. He also works with the Bolshoi Theatre, Suntory Hall, the Seoul Center for the Arts, the Champs-Elysees Theatre and plays alongside some of the world’s most recognized musicians.

A more extravagant activity is his participation in the Tangisimo ensemble with who he plays Argentine tango. The ensemble has visited Bulgaria on several occasions too. Yet another creative project in which Svetlin Rusev has taken part is the Rusev-Salk-Rozanova piano trio that is highly appreciated by the international audience.

An incredible virtuoso, Svetlin Rusev plays his violin in such a way that it brings ages, feelings, events, and relationships to life and paints pictures which are effortlessly followed by the imagination. Judge for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W839DuQcadE.

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Source:
1. http://cantusfirmusbg.com/125/svetlin-roussev/
2. https://www.24chasa.bg/Article/693751
3. http://svetlinroussev.com/main_en.html

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.