Mob Muscles Its Way into Bulgaria's Culture

Slavi Binev
Slavi Binev

By Milena Hristova                      November 28, 2014 

He is the owner of a chalga nightclub, taekwondo champion, archon, former MEP, oligarch with many mafia buddies. WikiLeaks lists his company's activities as "prostitution, narcotics, and trafficking stolen automobiles."

In short – Bulgarian mutra [member of the Mafia, tough guy] by excellence. Now he is rolling up his sleeves to tackle all issues ailing Bulgaria's culture head-on!

You might think that this is the scenario of a comedy movie. No! This is a real-life horror movie and the main character is the notorious Slavi Binev, who was appointed this week head of the culture commission in Bulgaria's parliament.

The news should best be left with no comment. It speaks volumes on its own about today's Bulgaria.

But to say that the news elicited mixed reactions would be an understatement. It triggered an angry storm in Internet forums and social media.

Because Binev's verbiages make an interesting reading for five-year-olds only and does not say a word about his vision for Bulgaria or Bulgaria's culture.

Because it is clear even for five-year-olds that the spirit of mafia entrepreneurship has taken the the upper hand over the religious pieties in this ambitious nationalist.

The appointment brought to my mind nothing but definitions of chalga – as Bulgarian popfolk music is derogatorily called - such as:

  • an event of ethically and aesthetically low quality;

  • provocative hip-shaking, lewd lyrics, oriental motifs;

  • an easy means to gain "prestige" and do away with a much more qualified competitor;

  • a practice where tricks are the order of the day.

But may be Slavi Binev's appointment was actually good news – it laid bare the perennial connections between politics and mafia.

It revealed the true face of those who are calling the shots in today's Bulgaria.

Leaving not a trace of doubt.