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Bulgaria Criminalizes Match-Fixing, Illegal Betting

The Bulgarian parliament on Thursday made the fixing of football matches and illegal sports betting a crime punishable with up to eight years in jail.

In a move to clean up Bulgaria's sporting image, the parliament adopted an amendment to the penal code which meant that anyone who attempts to bribe sports officials faces fines of up to 15,000 leva (7,500 Euros, $10,700) and six years in prison.

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Ghetto Hope': Music Opens Doors to Gypsy Children

Discordant brass notes escape from a rehearsal room in Sliven's gypsy ghetto, as 15 local boys prepare for band practice and take a break from the poverty-stricken life of the slum outside.

"Now boys -- one, two, three...," band leader Angel Tichaliev calls out and the tunes merge into a bold, lively melody that resonates in the room barely bigger than a one-car garage.

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Thousands of Bulgarians Celebrate First July Sunrise

Thousands of Bulgarians gathered Friday by the seaside to greet the first July sunrise of the year, celebrated since the communist era as a symbol of summer, freedom and a new beginning.

The popular July Morning sunrise ritual, which first emerged in the 1980s, obtained its name from the Uriah Heep song traditionally played at the moment the first sun rays shine over the Black sea.

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Bulgaria Brings Home Smuggled Antiquities from Canada

Bulgaria has repatriated 21,000 smuggled coins, jewelry and other rare antiquities from Canada through diplomatic mail to save money, Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov said Thursday.

The seizure and return of the illegally imported cultural objects, which cover more than 2,600 years of Bulgarian history and are worth 707,000 Euros ($1 million), was the largest ever in Canada.

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Canada Returns Seized Antiquities to Bulgaria

Canada returned 21,000 coins, jewelry and other rare antiquities to Bulgaria on Friday that had been illegally excavated and smuggled into the country, the government announced.

The seizure and return of the illegally imported cultural objects, which cover more than 2,600 years of Bulgarian history, was the largest ever in Canada.

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Turkey Condemns Mosque Attack in Bulgaria, Warns Against Rising Islamophobia

Turkey has condemned an attack by far-right nationalists on a mosque in Bulgaria, warning against rising Islamophobia in Europe.

"We expect the perpetrators and inciters of this abhorrent attack on freedom of worship... to be quickly apprehended and punished," a foreign ministry statement said late Friday.

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Roma 'Bride Market' Comes to Town in Rural Bulgaria

The first Saturday in Lent feels like any other market day in this tiny village in central Bulgaria, but fruit and vegetable stalls are nowhere to be seen among the milling patrons.

Instead, young eligible bachelors from the Roma community are here to find themselves a wife at a traditional "bride market".

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Report says Toshiba to Build Huge Solar Plant in Bulgaria

Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power will team up with the Japanese government to build one of the world's largest solar power stations in Bulgaria, a report said Friday.

The plant will be built in the eastern city of Yambol by March 2012 at a cost of more than 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion), Japan's Nikkei daily said.

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