In Bulgaria, nature leaves green legacy along Iron Curtain route | AFP

Lush chestnut forests and verdant pastures cover the northern slopes of the Belasitsa mountain range in southwestern Bulgaria, part of a surprising legacy of the Iron Curtain which once cut across this region. Thirty years ago, barbed wire fences ran through here, dividing communist Bulgaria from neighbouring NATO member Greece as well as from the former Yugoslavia, which while also communist, had a more distant relation to Moscow.

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UK murder probe as 39 dead found in truck from Bulgaria | AFP

Britain launches a major murder investigation after 39 bodies were found in a truck from Bulgaria, as police tried to establish where the victims were originally from.

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Pilgrims perform cosmic-like meditative dance in Bulgaria’s Rila mountains | AFP

Thousands of pilgrims gather in Bulgaria’s Rila mountains to welcome their “spiritual” new year with a cosmic-like dance performed in concentric circles, creating a striking image on the verdant mountain plain.

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Adventurers start journey in reed boat to test ancient trade routes | AFP

A group of experimental archeologists and volunteers embark in Bulgaria on a 700-nautical-mile journey with a reed boat to test a hypothesis that ancient Egyptians were able to trade over the high seas.

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Remembering German victims of Bulgaria’s Iron Curtain | AFP

At a time when Europe prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain, the issue of communist-era killings of East Germans who tried to flee to the West via Bulgaria’s southern border remains taboo.

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Voting underway in Greece for European parliamentary election

Greeks cast their votes in the European parliamentary election at a polling station in Athens. Greece is one of the first countries to open its polling stations along with Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and Cyprus as tens of millions of Europeans in 21 countries prepare choose their representatives. IMAGES

Pope Francis celebrates mass on second day of visit to Bulgaria

Several hundred worshippers pack into the Holy Heart of Jesus catholic church in the town of Rakovski in southern Bulgaria, with thousands more outside, for a service in which Pope Francis gave 245 local children their first holy communion, the first time he has done this on a foreign trip. The pope is on the 2nd of a three-day visit in the Balkans.

Pope Francis arrives in Bulgaria for Balkan visit, meets PM

Pope Francis arrives at the airport in Bulgaria, where he is greeted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The Pope will meet members of the tiny Catholic community, but the main Orthodox Church has rejected the idea of holding joint prayers with the pontiff. IMAGES of his arrival

From Bulgaria to Kent, Brexit stirs fears for migrant workers

A small Bulgarian village thousands of kilometres from the UK is worried about how Brexit will play out. That’s because every year hundreds of locals travel from Brashten to work on a fruit farm in Kent, and are concerned that may no longer be possible post-Brexit.

Bulgaria adopts apprenticeships in scramble for workers

In addition to traditional subjects taught at school, students in Bulgaria are learning practical skills such as cooking and factory work to make them more employable. With the fastest-falling population in the world, Bulgaria is increasingly turning to apprenticeship schemes to counter labour shortages that are threatening to become dramatic.

RAW: Crime ring printing fake US dollars busted in Bulgaria

Bulgarian authorities say they have busted an organized crime ring that was printing high quality fake US dollar banknotes.

Police in the Black Sea city of Varna have seized counterfeit 100-US dollar banknotes in different degrees of completion worth 1.35 million US dollars, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

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Bulgaria’s mentally ill battle for dignity

In the psychiatric hospital in Kurilo, in the mountainous countryside near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, around 100 patients languish on their beds amid dilapidated surroundings. Eleven of the country’s twelve public psychiatric hospitals are, like Kurilo, in remote locations, a legacy of the communist era when patients were hidden away lest they mar the image of a socialist paradise portrayed in official propaganda.

‘Invisible hands’ key to Sofia’s recycling battle

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia has an army of some 5,000 unofficial garbage recyclers, saving an annual 70,000 to 100,000 tonnes of recyclable materials from the mixed containers but citizens rarely appreciate their important role. An unusual new theatre performance seeks to change that. A voiced AFPTV report.

Fantastic fireworks festival lights up Moscow sky

Fireworks lit up the skies of Moscow on Saturday, August18, as the 4th year of the Rostec International Festival of Fireworks kicked off. The competition brought together pyrotechnic teams from all over the world. The opening ceremony of the festival featured Russian team’s fireworks display. The participants of the festival for the first day were Austria, Bulgaria, Italy & the USA, who each performed for 12 minutes.

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Grammy-winning Bulgarian folk choir returns with modern twist

Thirty years ago an all-female folk choir set up in Bulgaria became the darling of Western audiences with its tradition-steeped a cappella singing, before the fall of communism threatened its survival. The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices ensemble conquered the international charts during the Cold War at a time when world music was beginning to gain popularity. Now the Grammy-winning choir from Sofia is back, having teamed up with Australian-born Lisa Gerrard of the music group, Dead Can Dance.

Glimmer of hope for Romania’s faded architectural gems

In a spa town nestled near Romania’s border with Bulgaria and Serbia, Oana Chirila puts on her hard hat and gets down to work with a dozen other young architects to try to save their country’s heritage. Some of the precious architectural gems they are striving to restore bore witness to centuries of Romanian history and the crowned heads who ruled it through the ages.

Bulgarian bears prepare for reintegration in Greece

Three bear cubs rescued on a mountain road in Bulgaria’s southern Rhodope mountains in late April made a trip over the weekend to another bear sanctuary, Arcturos, in neighbouring Greece, where carers hope to prepare them for reintegration in the wild. Efforts to track their mother failed and the bears — two boys and a girl — spent one month at Bulgaria’s Belitsa Dancing Bears Park, operated by the international Four Paws animal charity and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for animal protection, feeding on goat’s milk and vitamins.