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Imperator Azenquor

Zapadnaya National and Regional News

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[b][u]SNN News - Gov’t to review Child Naming laws [/b][/u]
 
[i]“The government has announced it’s intention to review the laws governing the naming of children after a woman reportedly attempted to register her newborn with the name ‘Satan Lord of Darkness Hernandez’. Hospital administrators refused to agree to assign the child such a name and the mother filed an urgent appeal with the Interior Ministry. According to the appeal, the mother is insisting that she has a fundamental right to give her daughter any name that she chooses and that the hospital administrators refusal constitutes a breach of her rights.
 
In response to the appeal, Interior Minister Milena Buchvarova has opened an investigation into the matter. In a short statement, Ms. Buchvarova revealed that the current naming laws allow hospital administrators and government officials to use their discretion, but that ‘unorthodox’ names were not explicitly forbidden. Based on the Interior Minister’s recommendation, the Parliament will debate amendments to the Child Naming Law in order to prevent such a situation from happening again in the future.[/i]
 

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SNN News – ‘Regionalism’ replaces ‘Europeanism’ as new gov’t sworn in
 
“As newly elected President Paskal Dragomirov takes office in Svyatoy Veragorod today he has already hinted at a shift in government policy. In a speech after his swearing in, President Dragomirov spoke of the need to reorient the country’s external affairs in order to replace ‘impractical, theoretical Europeanism’ with more plausible ‘constructive Regionalism’. He stressed the importance of cooperation with other Black Sea and Balkan nations as being ‘more constructive’ than ‘seeking to join failed Europe-wide political experiments’ such as the European Community.
 
President Dragomirov also chided the previous administration for failing to strengthen coordination between the Premier and the Presidency. He suggested that his administration would address this situation ‘without delay’ as it is ‘vital for the effective and efficient administration of government’. The new President also pledged to increase transparency and accountability in government while preparing the foundation for 'lasting and sustainable economic growth'.
 
In Sofia, Prime Minister Grigorova presented her Cabinet to the National Assembly for a confidence vote. As was expected, since the Justice & Development Party (JDP) now has a majority mandate by itself, all of the government ministers appointed by the Prime Minister are from the JDP. One of the key surprises in the new cabinet lineup is the decision to move former Health Minister Zhanna Konstantinova to the Ministry of Science, Labor and Industry. Dr. Konstantinova was replaced at the Health Ministry by Dimitri Ognyanov. The Prime Minister also decided to name Ivo Draganov Foreign Minister. Mr. Draganov will replace Field Marshal Teodora Petrova who has been named Vice-President of the Republic."
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]ZCNA – President orders review of gov’t bureaucracy[/u][/b]
 
[i]“President Paskal Dragomirov held a three hour joint-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Svyatoy Veragorod this morning. The meeting was attended by the members of the Presidential administration, the Prime Minister, the National Security Council and the Cabinet. Moments after the meeting ended, officials from the Office of the Presidency briefed the press in an unusual departure from the previous administration. The press briefing was led by Polina Borisova, the Chairwoman of the Presidential Information Bureau in the Office of the Presidency.
 
According to Ms. Borisova, the President held the joint meeting in order to lay out the government’s key policy objectives for this fiscal year and to coordinate meeting those objectives. It is understood that the President and Prime Minister agreed on the need for urgent and wide ranging reforms to several key sectors. At the meeting, the Presidency and the Cabinet agreed to launch a wide ranging investigation of the Civil Service Bureaucracy in order to cut wasteful spending and to raise efficiency. We were also informed that the new government plans to overhaul the military equipment procurement process, regional government administration and customs procedures within a year.
 
On the question of the national budget, the government revealed that their key priority will be to move toward a budget surplus within three years and to ‘make a significant dent in the national debt’. Ms. Borisova suggested that the government could not go into much detail about the budget at the moment as it is still being drafted. Once this process is underway, she suggested, the Prime Minister will present clear and measurable fiscal targets.
 
In order to aid transparency in government operations, the Presidential spokesperson revealed that the Presidency will endeavor to hold once monthly press briefings to keep the local press informed of key developments. When asked by the press if President Dragomirov would address the opening session of the National Assembly later this week, Ms. Borisova stated that the President ‘fully intends to address the National Assembly as is his constitutional responsibility’. [/i]
 

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ZCNA News: Parliament approves Cult Law allegedly in response to Dreamer Cult
 
 
“After a lengthy debate, the Parliament today approved the ‘Religious Cult Act’ which aims to address concerns about the national security implications of cults and unregulated religious organizations. In tackling the issue, the government sought to draft a proposal that would address security concerns while respecting individual rights and freedoms. As a part of this drafting process, the Interior Ministry held consultations with a number of religious leaders as well as government officials. The final draft of the legislation was approved by Parliament today and will be sent to the President for his signature shortly.
 
The legislation defines religions native to Zapadnaya as being exempt from the provisions and lays out a process where unregistered religious organizations may apply to the Ministry of Interior in order to be recognized. Native religions are automatically exempt from the penalties specified in the law, but cults and unrecognized religions may be subject to penalties. According to the law, membership in an unrecognized religious organization or cult will automatically prohibit an individual from holding political, military or government office at any level. The act also makes it a criminal offense for a member of an unregistered religious organization to disseminate materials related to that religion
 
Controversially, the law specifies that any individual who currently holds government office who converts to an unrecognized religion or cult is required to forfeit his or her office without delay and without exception. The law does not specify the process by which the individual will be removed from office, but that is expected to be handled by the Interior Ministry.
 
While some have denounced the new law as an unwelcome infringement on freedom to worship, others have claimed that the law doesn’t go far enough. A member of the Opposition European Future Party (EFP) has lamented that the law does not criminalize attempting to convert individuals to unrecognized religions, or criminalize the transfer of assets to such organizations. The MP also lamented that the ‘Dreamer Cult’ was not explicitly named in the legislation and that the government has not sought to sanction the ‘poisonous well from which the lunacy flows’.”
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]SNN – Police and Border Guards become Gendarmerie and Frontier Guards[/b][/u]
 
[i]“Not long after the speech of Senior General Nikita Radkova, the government has moved on the issue of police reform. In legislation approved by Parliament today, the Zapadnayan Police Force (ZPF) is to be restructured and reorganized into the Zapadnayan Gendarmerie and will be subordinated to the Presidency instead of the Army. Under the new law, the Gendarmerie will be required to train a new group of officers to command the force while adopting new methods to policing and national security. 
 
According to reports from the ZPF, the transition phase is expected to be completed in the next three months. Seeking to reassure the public, the Commander of the ZPF released a statement suggesting that the transition would not have a detrimental impact on policing either during or after the transition period and that the police will continue with all regular duties during the transition period.
 
The government has also approved new changes to the Zapadnayan Border Police (ZBP), which will be reorganized into the Zapadnayan Frontier Guard Corps (ZFGC). Under the reorganization plan, the ZBP will train and equip an additional 8,000 officers and acquire additional equipment to aid in its duties. Current personnel will also be required to undergo new training prior to being incorporated into the Frontier Guard Corps. The new agency will be subordinated to the Presidency. 
 
The reorganization of the Border Police is expected to take at least five months and is not expected to significantly impact travel times at Zapadnayan ports of entry during the period.”[/i]
 

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[b][u]SNN – Government interferes in the naming of children with ridiculous new law[/b][/u]
 
[i]“The government is currently debating a strange new law that would allow a state appointed commission to prevent parents from giving certain names to their children. This commission will even be empowered to overrule the wishes of the parents of the child in certain circumstances. The law was drafted in response to an incident where a parent attempted to name their newborn son ‘Satan Lord of Darkness’. After a series of objections by hospital staff, the parent attempted to mount a legal challenge in order to name her son Satan. The legal challenge was dismissed after a court found that giving the child that name would be ‘detrimental to the child’s overall wellbeing’. In its ruling, the court asked that the government ‘identify loopholes in the existing child naming law in order to avert similar cases’.
 
In response to the request, the government drafted the law now before Parliament. The solution, in the eyes of the government, is to grant the National Council for the Naming of Offspring (NCNO) the right to prevent registration of a child under a particular name if the Council concludes that the name is inappropriate or may have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of the child. Should the NCNO object to the name, and the parents refuse to select a name approved by the NCNO, the new law empowers the NCNO to issue a name to the child and compel the relevant government agency to register the child under that name.
 
While some are welcoming the move by the government, others are expressing concerns that it is an unfair infringement on the rights of parents to name their children. There are also concerns that the law, which allows the NCNO to fine parents for non-compliance, may create an environment where the NCNO could simply make arbitrary decisions about which names are blocked and which names are permitted.
 
Regardless of these concerns, the new law is likely to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Dragomirov in the next few days. So for any parents wishing to give their children potentially illegal names, we urge those parents to ensure that their child is born before the new law enters force.”[/i]
 

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SNN: Dragomirov government declares war on the poor
 
“While many citizens quietly hoped that the election of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) would bring about positive change in the country, those hopes have been thoroughly and harshly dashed. In a callous opening salvo against the poor and disadvantaged, the Prime Minister has brought to Parliament a bill that will destroy public housing in Zapadnaya.
 
The public housing system, which was credited with helping the nation to pick up the ruined infrastructure left after the civil war, is now under attack. In the aftermath of Zapadnaya’s brutal civil war, which saw almost 68.2% of all infrastructure in the country destroyed, the government of the day undertook a massive public housing project to provide shelter to the war ravaged population. The government’s decision to invest in the people helped to bring about renewed economic growth and confidence in the future.
 
The government today now argues that it is unsustainable for public housing to remain as it has before, despite the fact that the government has collected significant revenues from public housing tenants over the past decade. In a move that will affect as much as 80% of the nation’s citizens, the government is now seeking to privatize public housing and has created the agency that will serve as the assassin of the poor in Zapadnaya. The National Property and Land Agency (NPLA) will seize administration of public housing from provincial officials and will begin the process of forced privatization.
 
For those fortunate individuals whose homes are not privatized under this scheme, they will face a dire threat. In addition to the powers of privatization, the government has given the NPLA the right to eject tenants who fail to pay their rents on time and has gutted the law that saw public housing rents set based on consultations between provincial authorities and tenants. In a clear violation of the social contract which brought about Zapadnaya’s public housing, the government has granted the NPLA the right to set rent rates unilaterally and without consultation or review.
 
The government of President Dragomirov is sending one clear message to the poor in Zapadnaya: if you can’t pay sharp increases in rent, we’ll kick you out of the only home you have ever known.”
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]SNN – NPLA raises rent fees nationwide, begins property audit[/b][/u]
 
[i]“The National Property and Land Agency (NPLA) has only existed for six days so far, but it has already taken controversial actions. In an announcement today, the agency revealed that it will be increasing rent prices for 60% of tenants who live in public housing. According to the agency’s report, it has decided to increase rent prices by 8.2% for class 1 housing, 15.6% for class 2 housing and a shocking 26.9% for class 3 housing. The increases are set to take effect within 60 days and may not be appealed by tenants.
 
The NPLA also announced that it had now taken over the administration of all public housing from the provincial authorities and that all payments which had previously been sent to those authorities are to be sent to the NPLA. The agency also revealed that it has begun an audit to determine the condition of all public property now under its administration. The audit will also identify properties which are in arrears and is expected to be completed in a month.
 
The announcements from the NPLA have sparked alarm among some public housing tenants who fear that they will not be able to afford the new rent charges and may shortly find themselves homeless. Others fear that this sudden increase is only the first of many and will eventually push the cost of living in public housing out of their reach. On the other end of the spectrum, some public housing tenants who are financially better off have expressed the hope that the NPLA will allow them to purchase their homes under the new law. There are also reports that a handful of private companies have sought to determine if the NPLA will allow them to purchase a number of public housing units
 
In response to the developments, the banned Communist Party of Zapadnaya issued a statement calling the moves ‘a callous and vile attack on the working class’ and pledging to undertake ‘revolutionary acts of civil disobedience in solidarity with the proletariat’. The Opposition European Future Party (EFP) issued a statement condemning the government’s move as being ‘counterproductive’ and ‘poorly planned’. The EFP suggested that the solution to the public housing issue involved the subsidizing of new private home constructions and incentive schemes that would see individuals in public housing move into these new homes. The government’s current plans, the EFP argues, will simply create a massive new problem in its attempt to solve an old one.”[/i]
 

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ZCNA News: Budget debate begins as gov’t announces national defense policy review
 
“Prime Minister Iskra Grigorova brought the first budget of her second administration to Parliament this afternoon and outlined the government’s vision for a massive overhaul of the Zapadnayan economy. The new budget makes significant adjustments to income taxes, customs duties and overall government expenditure while managing to maintain a primary surplus of 4.5% of GDP. Under the proposed budget, Zapadnaya’s national debt will decline from Z$267 Billion (30% of GDP) to Z$202 Billion (22.7% of GDP) in the next year. Should this downward trajectory be maintained, the government is projecting the reduction of the national debt to 8.11% of GDP in six years.
 
On income taxes, the government has unveiled significant increases in taxes across almost all tax bands. The tax rate for individuals making Z$18,000 or less per year has been reduced from 10.0% to 9.5%, however the tax rates for individuals who make Z$18,001 to Z$37,000 has been increased from 15% to 17.5% and the top tax rate of 40% has been increased to 58.5%. The government has sought to offset the increases in income taxes by reducing VAT from 11% to 8% for general goods and from 13% to 11.8% for luxury goods.
 
In terms of overall expenditures, the proposed budget will reduce spending across several areas. Funding for Healthcare and Pensions & Benefits will be cut from Z$89 Billion each to Z$53.4 Billion for healthcare and Z$44.55 Billion for Pensions. Infrastructure development funding has been slashed from Z$17.82 Billion to a shocking record low of Z$4.46 Billion. Salaries of government officials and administrative expenses will decline from Z$62 Billion to Z$26.73 Billion. The government will, however increase funding for Education, National Defense and Policing. Funding to the Education system will be increased from Z$53.5 Billion to Z$71.28 Billion, funding for Policing will be increased from Z$8.9 Billion to Z$44.55 Billion. Expenditure on National Defense will be increased marginally from Z$98 Billion to Z$115 Billion.
 
According to the Prime Minister, the increase in the Policing budget is primarily to enable the Gendarmerie to expand their capability to combat cyber and organized crime and to complete the transition process from the Zapadnayan Police Force (ZPF) to the Zapadnayan Gendarmerie. The Z$17 Billion increase in military spending has been allocated to expedite the Armed Forces Professionalization process, to procure new equipment and to repair key military infrastructure that was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Z$2.4 Billion of the funds allocated to the military will be used to fund the pensions of 14,273 military veterans of the Civil War whose pensions were not paid by previous governments.
 
The proposed budget will see the government spending only Z$396.5 Billion this year while expecting revenues of Z$401.2 Billion."
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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SNN - Stock market dives 4% due to regional tension, unease about state of emergency

 

“In response to the rising regional tensions and the prospect of conflict, the Zapadnayan Stock Exchange (ZSE) fell by 4.11% in the past two days. While the government is keen to downplay the significance of the decline, there are concerns that it may mark the beginning of a sustained downward movement of the ZSE.

 

Adding to economic concerns, the prospect of the tensions impacting Zapadnaya’s ability to import and export goods via the Danube or the Bosporus straits is also raising questions. While such limitations are unlikely to cause major problems immediately, the potential future impact on the national economy cannot be understated. Some economists are already forecasting a decline in the value of the Lira and have even suggested that it may cross the psychological threshold of 3.00 Lira per ISU.

 

The State of Emergency and uncertainties about its scope and duration are also adding to the uncertainty and may be damaging business confidence. With so much at stake, the government needs to announce a detailed and coherent strategy for protecting the local economy and avoiding an economic recession. Such an announcement must deal with the issues of manufacturing exports, and access to foreign currency. The government should also reassure the public that it is not considering the imposition of currency exchange controls or a dual exchange rate system.”

 

(OOC Note: Edited due to the war being wiped)

Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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ZCNA News – Lira crosses 3 ISU mark and settles at 3.26 ISU

 

“The Zapadnayan Lira crossed the 3.00 ISU mark for the first time in trading today as concerns over the rising regional tensions hit the exchange rate. The Lira settled at 3.26 ISU per Lira after declining from a high of 2.01 ISU per Lira. The devaluation of the local currency has raised concerns about long term damage to the Zapadnayan economy if the slide is not reversed or halted over the medium term.

 

In response to the decline, the Central Bank of Zapadnaya (CBZ) has announced that the currency will be allowed to approach 3.50 ISU per Lira, but that the Central Bank will intervene to prevent the currency from moving any further beyond that benchmark. The Central Bank also rubbished reports of a shortage in foreign currency and published a report showing that all requests for foreign currency were being honored without delay.

 

In other news, the Zapadnayan Stock Exchange (ZSE) saw another day of sharp losses as the overall index fell 7.2% in a single day, rounding off a week of continuous losses. The Ministry of Finance is said to be watching the situation closely as it develops.”

 

(OOC Note: Edited due to the war being wiped)

Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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SNN News – Small protest gathers in front of Japanese Embassy

 

“A group of 300 protesters staged a small protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Sofia today. Each of the protesters wore matching clothing and each carried a caricature of the Japanese Empress with the words: “Imperialist Empress: Why you no speech proper English!” on it. As the protesters marched up and down the street, they repeatedly yelled: “It’s Godzilla!”

 

Officers from the Gendarmerie showed up at the protest five minutes after it had begun, suggesting that this was not an authorized protest. After the commanding officer of the Gendarmerie addressed the protesters, they dispersed peacefully.

 

Upon investigation we learned that the protest in front of the Japanese Embassy was not organized by a political group or organization but was arranged by noted comedian Colin O. Meehdyan. We believe that the comedian organized the protest as an ad for his new program ‘Zapadnaya Yesterday’. If our belief is correct, the individuals may have staged the protest as a sort of flash mob rather than a political statement.

 

We contacted the Gendarmerie and requested information on the protest. An officer of the Gendarmerie has confirmed that no protest permit was issued for the gathering and that an investigation is being launched into the event to identify the organizers. The officer urged us to remind the public that protesting without a permit is an illegal act.”

 

(OOC Note: Edited due to the war being wiped)

Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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SNN – Electronics industry output rises by 12%

 

“Zapadnaya’s electronics industry has reported significantly higher than expected output for this quarter. According to industry reports to the Finance Ministry, industrial output in the sector has surged by 11.6% as a number of factories have significantly increased production in response to sharp increases in export demand.

 

The Armaments industry has also seen significant growth in output, but not to the scale of the electronics industry. According to industry reports sent to the Finance Ministry, the Armaments industry has seen a 5.82% increase in overall output as additional production capacity is brought online to bolster arms supplies to the Zapadnayan military and the Gendarmerie.

 

The Agriculture industry has seen a 0.24% decline in output as farmers and distributors reroute agriculture for export to ensure sufficient quantities of food for the local market. Citizens are being urged to substitute local agricultural products for their foreign equivalents where available to support local production over foreign imports. While the prices of local agricultural products have remained unchanged, the prices of imported products have increased by an average of 1.2% since the increase in regional tensions.”

 

(OOC Note: Edited due to the war being wiped)

Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]ZCNA – Elections to be held shortly as Parliament moves to lift State of Emergency[/b][/u]

 

[i]“In a statement from the Office of the President this morning, it was revealed that the delayed national elections will take place without delay as the Parliament moved to lift the State of Emergency last night. According to the statement, the regional and international situation has sufficiently improved so as to permit the government to take steps towards restoring normality. The first of these steps, the statement revealed, will be the holding of national elections without further delay.

 

Accordingly the Zapadnaya Electoral Council has made all necessary preparations for the elections to be held and has stated that it will be ready as early as tomorrow. The Electoral Council has confirmed that in light of the extraordinary situation which caused the election delay, that there would not be sufficient time to allow the usual extended period of campaigning. Instead, the Council stated, it is of vital importance for the voting and transition process to occur without any further delay.

 

After meeting with H.E. President Dragomirov and the Electoral Council, Prime Minister Grigorova has confirmed that the national elections will be held in 3 days time. This decision, the Prime Minister revealed, was discussed with the Parliamentary leadership of all political parties and was agreed upon in advance. The Prime Minister also confirmed that H.E. President Dragomirov intends to stand for re-election to the Presidency.”[/i]

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[b][u]ZCNA – Presidential results verified, EFP fail in first coalition bid[/b][/u]

 

[i]“The Zapadnaya Electoral Council (ZEC) has verified, upon completion of the recount of half of all votes cast in the presidential election, that incumbent President Paskal Dragomirov has won re-election. The verification of the results has been challenged by European Future Party (EFP) candidate Elena Dobreva. Former President Dobreva’s campaign filed an official protest with the Zapadnayan Electoral Council (ZEC) stating that ‘given the failure of President Dragomirov to win more than 50% of the votes cast in the election, it is only natural that a runoff election take place between the two leading candidates’. The Dobreva campaign statement also suggested that failing to hold a runoff would ‘serve to disenfranchise the 152,526 voters who voted for Socialist Party (SP) candidate Zlatko Dimitrov’ and would undermine the legitimacy of the office of the Presidency.

 

In responding to the protest from the Dobreva campaign, President Dragomirov stated that while he is not opposed to ‘making changes to the Presidential election system to require an absolute majority of votes cast, such changes must be implemented only for future elections’ and he stated that it would be ‘a breach of principle’ to enforce such a requirement in a retroactive manner.

 

The European Future Party (EFP) faced its first setback in Parliament today as Prime Minister-designate Alexei Boyanov failed to reach a coalition agreement with the Socialist Party (SP). Despite being the largest party in the National Assembly, the EFP is 52 seats short of a majority. A coalition with the Socialists would have given Prime Minister-designate Boyanov a strong minority government with 249 seats in the National Assembly. According to sources within the Socialist Party (SP), the EFP coalition proposals were ‘not based upon the principles of equal partnership’ and would require the Socialists to pledge Parliamentary support for Free Trade Agreements and for reforms to the public sector.

 

The EFP could attempt to negotiate a coalition agreement with the conservative Republican People’s Party (RPP) which would, if successful, result in a majority government with 255 seats in the National Assembly. Such negotiations would be significantly difficult considering the RPP’s strong opposition to core tenets of the EFP’s foreign policy manifesto.”[/i]

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[b][u]SNN – Druk Yul collapses, Dragon Cult collapses with it[/b][/u]

 

[i]“While researchers and economists are working overtime to learn why several nations in Eurasia recently collapsed into disarray, some are ascribing the collapses to divine intervention. At a recent open discussion at the Sofia University economists sought to explore the economic impact on Europe from the collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Alvonia. While the core disagreement between panel members was whether economic or political pressures expedited the collapse of those states, a member of the clergy presented an entirely different hypothesis.

 

During an open floor period where panelists accepted questions and requested input from the audience, Father Vladimir, an orthodox priest, asked the panelists if they had considered ‘divine intervention’. In his statement, Father Vladimir suggested that the rise of the Dragon Cult in Druk Yul and the actions of the leadership of Yugoslavia and Alvonia, may have been ‘of a sufficiently blasphemous nature’ to incur the wrath of God. He also suggested that the speed and totality of the collapse of the aforementioned states was ‘almost as if our Glorious and merciful God reached down from the heavens and demolished the governing institutions of those states’. He further stated that the experience of Druk Yul indicates that even those who ‘perceive themselves to be mighty are mere ants before the Creator’.

 

At the end of his statement Father Vladimir urged those present to ‘provide humanitarian aid and support to our brothers in Yugoslavia’ and to ‘strive to ensure that Zapadnaya does not go down the disastrous route of those countries’.

 

The entire panel stated that they ‘did not see divine intervention as a plausible cause for the collapse of the countries, but expressed their support for sending assistance to Yugoslavia conditional on that assistance being approved by the relevant authorities’. Another audience member made a statement in response to Father Vladimir suggesting that it was ‘irresponsible to ascribe to the actions of the divine what was clearly brought about by the actions of human beings’. The discussion will continue tomorrow with a focus on how the collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia will impact the local economy and manufacturing.”[/i]

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ZCNA – Coalition formed as JDP & RPP sign agreement, Senate situation unclear

 

“After news that the European Future Party (EFP) and the Socialist Party (SP) coalition negotiations had failed, it was widely believed that the EFP would attempt negotiations with the Republican People’s Party (RPP). Mere hours after the negotiations with the Socialist Party collapsed, rumors emerged that the Justice & Development Party (JDP) was conducting secret negotiations with the RPP. The rumors were verified this morning after outgoing Prime Minister Iskra Grigorova was seen leaving the office of RPP leader Konstantin Radkov in Sofia.

 

The JDP and the RPP, when asked about the rumors of negotiations, responded by announcing that  a ‘broad ranging coalition agreement has been signed between the RPP and the JDP which will give Zapadnaya’s next Prime Minister a strong mandate to tackle the threats facing the nation’. The statement also suggested that the coalition will be led by Prime Minister Grigorova and that Ministerial portfolio allocations were in the process of being agreed to. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Grigorova revealed that the coalition intends to present its list of ministerial appointments to Parliament in the next three days. When asked about the situation in the Senate, the spokesperson revealed that the coalition was ‘prepared to operate with only 45 Senators in the Senate’.

Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]SNN – JDP election fraud keeps President & PM in power[/b][/u]

 

[i]“The people of Zapadnaya went to the polls in their tens of thousands to change the political leadership of the nation peacefully and through the ballot box. However, it appears that the efforts to remove President Dragomirov and Prime Minister Grigorova has been frustrated by shady Parliamentary deals and outright fraud. In the National Assembly, the people chose to give a mandate to the European Future Party and granted that party the largest individual share of seats in the chamber. Despite this reality, and the clear condemnation of the failures of the Justice & Development Party (JDP), the European Future Party (EFP) will not be naming the next Prime Minister. Instead, desperate to cling onto power, Prime Minister Grigorova has arranged a shady deal in which the JDP will govern in coalition with the Republican People’s Party (RPP).

 

While the negotiation of the coalition agreement itself is not controversial, the reported refusal of the RPP to even consider a coalition with the EFP indicates that the RPP went into this election with the clear intent of supporting the JDP. In fact, at this stage, the RPP can simply be considered no more than a localized branch of the JDP. Once again, the hopes of the Zapadnayan people for true change and progress are dashed by a political class that wishes to entrench itself in the corridors of power.

 

As far as the Presidential election is concerned, it is absolutely clear that the European Future Party (EFP) leader Elena Dobreva won the election. In fact, we can state from our sources inside the Electoral Council that Presidential candidate Dobreva obtained 50.14% of the vote. President Paskal Dragomirov on the other hand, managed to secure only 48.26% of the vote. Our sources suggest that the announced Presidential election result came about due to manipulation of the vote result in the Eastern region of the country. This voter manipulation was allegedly conducted by ordering 13,892 civilian administrators and 2,810 soldiers to transfer to locations in the Eastern region ahead of the vote. These individuals were then allowed to vote in the east despite not residing their permanently.

 

Such a clear effort at vote manipulation could not be brought about by a rogue bureaucrat or a party hack, such an effort requires the clear and unambiguous collaboration of the military and the political establishment. If this is the democracy we were promised, then perhaps we should have remained a military dictatorship. At least then, the manipulation was clear and unabashed.”[/i]

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ZCNA- SNN sued over election allegations
 
"The privately owned Sofia News Network (SNN) is in legal trouble today after the Zapadnaya Electoral Council (ZEC) elected to take legal action against the network for allegations it is alleged to have made about the conduct of the recent Presidential elections. According to documents filed with the Court of Justice in Sofia, the channel is alleged to have ‘disseminated information that it knew to be false’ in an attempt to ‘undermine the democratic institutions of the state’. Additionally the ZEC is alleging that SNN’s actions seek to ‘undermine public trust in the ZEC and constitute slander and libel against said organization’.
 
In response to the allegations made by SNN, the Council Chairwoman of the ZEC has announced her intention to take the unusual step of addressing the nation to rebuff the allegations made by the network. According to the Chairwoman, the ZEC conducted a separate investigation after the SNN report and concluded that the allegations made by the SNN have no merit. In order to ‘counter the false allegations propagated by SNN’ and to ‘put to rest any allegations regarding purported fraud’ the ZEC will also submit a 397 page report to Parliament regarding the conduct of the election and the fraud prevention mechanisms which are in place.
 
In other news, Presidential candidate Elena Dobreva (EFP) has conceded defeat and has acknowledged the victory of President Dragomirov in the Presidential elections. The Dobreva campaign initially filed a protest demanding that a runoff election be held since neither candidate won 50% of the votes cast. The protest was dismissed by the ZEC which stated that the current electoral law does not require the President to win 50% of the vote, and as long as an individual candidate has the largest share of the total votes cast, that individual will be declared the winner. The ZEC suggested that changing the electoral law to require the President to win an absolute majority of the votes cast could be a matter brought before the new Parliament for its consideration.
 
In financial news, the Zapadnayan Lira recovered slightly in currency trading to close at a rate of Z$1.00 to 3.13 ISU. This gain has seen the Lira recover from a record high of 3.26 ISU earlier this year. The fact that the currency remains above the psychological 3.00 ISU ceiling is likely to still be of significant concern, particularly regarding investor and consumer confidence in the economic stability of the country."
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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ZCNA – Court orders suspension of SNN broadcasts
 
“The Zapadnayan Supreme Court issued a final ruling in the case of the privately owned Sofia News Network (SNN) today. Legal action was taken against SNN by the Zapadnaya Electoral Council (ZEC) who suggested that the news station ‘deliberately disseminated false information’ and sought to ‘undermine the democratic institutions of the state’. The ZEC also suggested that the reports from SNN were a part of an attempt to undermine public trust in the electoral authorities.
 
After three months of examining the case presented and examining the claim by SNN that it’s free speech rights were being infringed upon, the court issued a unanimous 8-0 ruling this morning. According to the ruling, SNN has been found guilty of knowingly disseminating false information and of attempting to undermine the democratic institutions of the state. The court also found that there was sufficient evidence to convict SNN staff on charges of slander for their unfounded attacks on the integrity of the ZEC. Despite no charges of that nature being filed, the court also suggested the possibility that the statements by SNN journalists may also constitute slander against the President of the Republic.
 
As a result of the finding, all broadcasts from the Sofia News Network (SNN) will be suspended for no less than six months while the status of its broadcasting license is reviewed. Additionally, the editor-in-chief and the journalists who wrote and presented the offending articles have been sentenced to five years imprisonment. According to a statement from the Office of the State Prosecutor, no further charges will be brought against any other employees at SNN. However when asked if charges would be brought against SNN for slandering the President of the Republic, the State Prosecutor suggested that this remained a possibility, but the decision to proceed would depend upon the willingness of the Presidency to do so.
 
After the ruling was announced, a spokesperson for SNN read a short statement reiterating that the right to free speech was being curtailed at the whim of an ‘increasingly authoritarian government’ and that the network was being unfairly victimized for ‘daring to speak out against the agreed upon narrative’. The statement acknowledged that ‘some of the statements made on the program under discussion may have, after further research, been found to be less than entirely accurate’ but stated that the State Prosecutor has failed to ‘prove that the journalists knew that the statements were false at the time of publication’. The statement also pledged that the remaining journalists at SNN would ‘stay the course’ and would ‘vigorously fight to defend free speech and press freedom’ without hesitation."
 

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ZCNA – PM to seek snap election over budget
 
“After eight months in a fragile coalition government, Prime Minister Iskra Grigorova has announced that she will be seeking a snap election to overcome obstacles preventing the passage of a new budget and new economic reform program in the National Assembly. The Prime Minister, and her Justice & Development Party (JDP) entered a coalition agreement with the Republican People’s Party (RPP) in order to form a workable majority in the Parliament. The coalition agreement was rocky from the beginning as disagreements over economic reform and government expenditure simmered for three months. Increasingly, it became clear that the Republican People’s Party (RPP) was willing to reject any budget prepared by the government which did not meet their spending and reform criteria.
 
As the economic recession took hold in Zapadnaya, the government found itself paralyzed and unable to make key changes to the budget without making costly concessions to the RPP. In an unusual move, Prime Minister Grigorova met with the Opposition European Future Party (EFP) to attempt to find common ground regarding the budget, but these meetings did not result in a concrete agreement. The Prime Minister then held consultations with the European Future Party (EFP) and the Socialist Party (SP) to determine if her resignation would permit them to form a majority government without significant delay.
 
After these consultations were completed, the Prime Minister decided that the only available course of action would be to ask for the dissolution of the National Assembly for a snap election. The request to do so has been sent to H.E. President Paskal Dragomirov and is expected to be acted upon shortly. Once the request was sent to the President, Prime Minister Grigorova proceeded to formally end the coalition agreement with the RPP and remove the RPP Government Ministers from office. The RPP has rejected the Prime Minister’s move and has called it ‘unconstitutional’ and an ‘illegal and illegitimate action’.
 
The Prime Minister has announced her intention to address the National Assembly tomorrow afternoon to inform the nation of the developments and explain why the government has decided to go to the polls once again. The Prime Minister’s address to the National Assembly will be followed by a Presidential Address to the nation which is expected to focus on the request for a snap election and the constitutionality of this request.”
 

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ZCNA News: Socialist Party budget proposal gives conservatives headache

 

“The newly elected Socialist Party [SP] government has wasted no time in making changes to government policy. Since the last coalition fell after failing to pass a budget, the Prime Minister felt that approving a budget would be the logical first step for his new government. With very little fanfare, the Prime Minister presented a ‘social justice’ budget that will see spending rise on education, healthcare and social welfare spending and sharp spending cuts to the military, and law enforcement agencies. The new budget also envisions elimination of the lowest income tax brackets over the next two years and a 1% phased increase in sales tax.

 

The proposed budget will see expenditures outpacing revenues resulting in a budget deficit of nearly Z$93.3 billion Lira. This deficit will require additional borrowing and will result in the national debt growing by approximately 6% of GDP next year. The Prime Minister, in his presentation to the National Assembly, harshly criticized the previous government for ‘maintaining a budget surplus at the cost of the welfare of the people of Zapadnaya’ and for ‘holding its idea of fiscal responsibility ahead of the health and welfare of the poor’. He suggested that the new government would ‘under take responsible spending while balancing the need for fiscal discipline with improving the lives of Zapadnayans.

 

The Opposition Justice & Development Party (JDP) harshly criticized the proposed budget as ‘derailing a sustained downward trajectory in the national debt’ and ‘callously abandoning a fiscally responsible approach which has boosted economic confidence over the last decade’. JDP Leader Iskra Grigorova expressed concern that the cut in the Police budget from Z$44.5 billion to Z$26.7 billion could negatively impact the security of Zapadnayans. The Opposition leader also expressed concern about the decision to slash military spending from Z$115.83 billion to Z$44.6 billion and suggested that the budget cuts would not only affect active military units, but would also impact military projects and equipment upgrades over the medium to long term.

 

According to the budget projections, the government intends to spend Z$539 billion and to receive Z$401 billion in revenue over the next fiscal year.”

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[b][u]ZCNA News: Finance Ministry defends controversial budget[/b][/u]

 

[i]“The Finance Ministry is on the defensive today as criticism of the budget continues to mount. The Finance Minister, Vitaly Todorov, defended the budget as ‘an economic stimulus’ for the national economy and a ‘long overdue’ reallocation of resources to the neglected health and education sectors. The Finance Minister also urged the public to view the impact of the budget in the medium to long term, rather than focusing on the short term increase in the national debt. The Finance Minister also gave a ‘solemn pledge’ that no aspect of the budget will negatively impact the national security of the state and that the government will ‘fully honor all financial commitments on time and in full’.

 

The Opposition Justice & Development Party (JDP) and its leader Iskra Grigorova has led the barrage of criticism of the Socialist Party (SP) proposed budget. In a speech at a party rally in Sofia, the former Prime Minister blasted the Socialist Party government as being ‘unimaginably irresponsible’ with its budget proposal. The JDP leader expressed her sincere concern that the budget reflects a willingness on the part of the new government to ‘play politics with the funding of the Zapadnayan armed forces’. The Opposition leader also suggested that the Prime Minister ‘has failed to reasonably consult the Armed Forces regarding the proposed changes in the defense budget’ and failed to ‘examine the impact of a surge in spending on the national economy’. She also warned that several military procurement contracts will likely face the chopping block if the budget goes through.

 

The Republican People’s Party (RPP), whose demands for increased spending aided in the collapse of the previous coalition government, has issued no statements regarding the proposed Socialist Party budget. According to reports, the leadership of the party is worried that the ‘magnitude of the budget deficit may be a cause for concern’ and may have unintended consequences over the long term. The party has therefore opted to view the budget with cautious optimism, but to avoid being pinned down in support of or against the budget. Several RPP MPs have expressed their concern that if the RPP votes against the government, that it would be viewed as siding with the JDP quickly after forcing a snap election. They are also concerned that supporting the budget may result in being blamed for any issues that arise from its adoption.

 

The budget will be debated in the National Assembly tomorrow afternoon and is expected to be approved when the Assembly votes.[/i]

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[b][u]ZCNA News: Office of the Presidency seeks Constitutional declaration[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The Office of the Presidency has submitted a request for a Constitutional declaration from the Zapadnayan Constitutional Court. According to a statement from the Presidency, the sealed request for a declaration was sent by courier to the Constitutional Court at 9:10am this morning. The Presidency statement said that the office of the Presidency was ‘seeking constitutional clarification regarding an article of the Constitution’ and ‘requesting a formal declaration from the Court regarding the extent of Presidential authority in certain matters’. The Constitutional Court has acknowledged receiving the request for a declaration and has stated that the matter is ‘under review as per the normal rules of procedure for such requests’. The Court revealed that it has asked the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister to ‘make a submission to the Court regarding the Presidency’s request’. 
 
In an unusual move, the Constitutional Court has decided to place a temporary order in place which bars any individual or party from revealing the contents of the sealed declaration request until the Court has received submissions from all ‘relevant parties’. The temporary order does not restrict public discussion about the declaration or speculation as to its contents. The order also does not limit press coverage of the developing situation.
 
Political analysts strongly believe that the President has requested the Constitutional Court rule on the authority of the Presidency to veto budget legislation approved by the National Assembly and the Cabinet. Analysts also believe that the President has asked the Constitutional Court to explicitly uphold the authority of the President to appoint or dismiss the Minister of Defense. If true, the President’s request will likely raise strong objections from the Prime Minister and the Socialist Party (SP) government. At a time where the relationship between the JDP President and the SP Prime Minister can best be described as tense, there is now a concern that if the speculation proves correct that there will be significant political paralysis ahead.[/i]
 

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[b][u]ZCNA News: Constitutional Court issues ruling on Presidential Authority[/b][/u]

 

[i]“The Zapadnayan Constitutional Court has issued its ruling on the Constitutional matters brought before it by the Office of the Presidency. As the ruling has been made, the gag order imposed by the court has now been lifted. Accordingly, we can now reveal that the Office of the Presidency requested clarification regarding three legal matters. Firstly, the Presidency requested clarification as to whether the power of the Presidency to return legislation to the Parliament for reconsideration under Article 42 applies to the national budget and similar spending legislation.

 

Secondly, the Office of the Presidency requested that the Constitutional Court declare whether the power afforded to the President to appoint the Ministers of Defense, Armaments and Interior under Article 46 requires the agreement of the Prime Minister or if the aforementioned appointments may be made by the President so long as he consults the Prime Minister before doing so. This request may also be viewed as a legal challenge to the appointment of the current Defense Minister whose nomination was simply approved by the Cabinet without the input of the Presidency.

 

Thirdly, the Office of the Presidency has sought a declaration from the Constitutional Court that H.E. President Paskal Dragomirov is not in breach of Article 37 of the Constitution of Zapadnaya. Article 37 lays out the requirements that an individual must meet in order to be eligible for the Presidency. According to the Constitution, all candidates are required to be at least 26 years old and holders of a university degree from a recognized institution. The Constitution also requires citizens to sever ties with political parties and not to hold political office prior to election. While President Dragomirov easily meets the first two requirements, the President nominally remains affiliated with the Opposition Justice & Development Party (JDP). 

 

The request for the declaration was likely aimed at establishing what ties to political parties are sufficient to disqualify an individual from the Presidency of the Republic. While the Constitutional Court ruling has been made, it will first be sent to the National Assembly before being made public.”[/i]

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