First, second, third, … N - number “private” towns. What is their exact number – I do not have any idea. There is no official statistics. There isn’t also an official legal term such as “private town”. There is neither a resolution of the Council of Ministries, the Parliament, nor a President’s decree providing a special status to those places of residence.
Although the official “deficiency”in the legislation, the mentioned towns exist. And they are living where the "private" rules and laws peacefully exist with the public and official ones.
Nevertheless how paradoxical and shocking it sounds, the state is "missing" from these towns or its presence is absolutely symbolic, and is rather ostentation and demonstrative interior belonging. De facto and de jure these towns are a part of the Republic of Bulgaria and are located on its territory.
These places seem strange to the unprejudiced visitor, who has not idea what to expect and who happened to be there by chance.
These towns seem to belong to Bulgaria, but the reality is different.
It is as if they belong to the state, but the reality is different.
It seems that you do not leave the country, but actually you come to a different world with other rules and other "regulatory" realities.
When you get in these towns, there is no indication for a change. There is not a barrier with a notice saying " Private property! Entering is forbidden!”. If there was such, the sensible person would not step in there!. Because if the official statute of a "private town" existed, the sensible people would get familiar with the local rules and would take a decision whether to take part in this adventure or not, could they live like that or not, does it worth to follow them or rather stay away.
What are the signs, typical features of these towns that make them unique and different from the others? Getting familiar with them and studying by chance two “private towns”, and having read a certain amount of information for at least three others, that belong to the same category , I have reached the following conclusions without pretending to be comprehensive.
The local authorities in the “private” towns are a product of the ostensible democracy, existing in an illusionary country. And , especially after the last elections, the mayors in these regions are either marionettes given the power by dominating business interests, seeing for expansion or they are the owners of business to be developing through cashing the political power under the protection of a multispectral political umbrella. The regular payment of the indulgencies for the "mistakes" when exercising the power, as well as sticking to the advice and recommendations of the people who have launched them into the politics shall guarantee a quite and complete mandate. As many as blunders they make, as “exotic” as possible their decisions are, for example mortgaging all municipal property (a textbook example from the town of Vidin), as many as possible laws are violated such as carrying out licensing activities without a license as it is the situation in Pravetz – there is nothing that can be done to deprive those people of power. And this is not the worst. It is the sense of untouchability and indictability, which makes them exclusively arrogant and straightforward aggressive. The latter applies totally in a situation, where they are facing an expert position, different from the daily servility of their subordinates or they patrons.
The institutions in the “private” towns are everything but not independent. Just the opposite. They are strongly dependent. Partially due to the fact that some of them are financially connected to the municipality and due to any party, political and family relations, originating from the manner of personnel selection. So that when the status quo is changed, this will lead to personnel changes with the significance of “small” revolutions. The Court and the Prosecutor’s office in the “private” town strangely аre bypassing the signals for violations done by those holding the power or their patrons. The conclusions of the preliminary investigations are usually one and the same - there is no evidence for a performed crime and the conclusion of the prosecutors for the legal correspondence and proceedings is expressed in a single word - cancelled.
The business in the “private” towns is not subject to the rules of the free market and competition. Usually the circles of companies occupy all public procurement as long as such are notified. Although there is no formal breaching of the Public Procurement Law and the Small-value Procurement Procedure Regulation, these procedures have a known winner. There is a predictable looser as well. And it is the population of the corresponding town. Each attempt of an external company to be awarded the public procurement contract shall be doomed to failure, as long as the participation rules are set by the municipality , and if its is a negotiated public procurement procedure with a notice, the latter is sent by the local authorities .
In the “private” towns there is a lasting trend for acquiring the municipal property at a reduced prices and the concentration in the hands of one or a few people, who legally or physically - de facto are the “owners" of the town. There are many forms of doing so since the methods are already chosen, verified and operable – a direct purchase, a joint venture with a contributed municipal property, and consequently after transforming the capital, the municipality practically will own a minority share and at a later stage this share will be sold as economically unprofitable. If you are an investor, who comes by chance in a “private” town, and you have not found a common language with its owners- whether they are window dressing official authorities or the real backstage owners – you are not to expect something good. You will understand how the authority forces are pull together, how the political power is exercised, how a pressure is exerted through a variety of inspections performed by the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, fire protection authorities, technical and construction supervision authorities, taxation authorities, police, etc. every day. If you are too persistent one day someone will visit you and tell you something like that : "Haven't you understood that there is no place for you here". Do not rely on neither the police or the prosecution. Even if you skip the local level, at the regional level you will meet an officer from the economics police who will meet you with the words " But don't you know that the town P. is a kind of a "private” town - and this is when you realize the cynicism of the reality and illusion of the state and institutions at their full length.
The media in the “private” towns are also dependent to both local government and the real owners. The contents of local press , especially in the small places, resembles the one from 1989, if still there is somebody left to remember how and what was written at that time. Attempts for criticizing and opposing the authorities are unthinkable and are punished. It sounds incredibly! But it is a fact! The Botevgrad news plus newspaper distributed in the region of Botevgrad, was banned for distribution by the local newsagents after a number of article criticizing the mayor and today is distributed directly by the publishers. This has already been done for two years. You do not believe it, do you? I did not believe either, but in the reality it is just like that! The Internet as a non-controlled media is may one of the few sources of the alternative information.
How do people live in “private” towns? I have been observing life there from a distance and not so closely for the last two three years, but I think that there is one definition characterizing their life, which is fear. Fear of not loosing their job, which they usually get from the real owner or owners of the town. Fear of complaining when they have been treated illegally, even when their civil rights are infringed. Fear of reporting to the police when they have witnessed breaching the law.
When I went to one of these “ private towns”, for which there are reasons to be called the First private town, at least for the fact that it is the all the native town of the former first state's and communist party leader and somehow naively I kept asking what was the difference and claimed with conviction that the state’s laws are meant for everybody and we are all equal in the eye of the law , I was approached by an elderly woman who she said to me, “Listen girl, the Bulgarian laws are valid until the notice saying town’s name! The faster you understand and accept it, the better is for you". I refused to understand it. And still I can not understand it! It is sad that there is no institution that could disprove the words of that woman and confirm mine. Even today - fifteen months after the accession of the country to the European Union. .
What shall one do when goes to a "private" town. Do not waste your time and energy to discover something that is a “public secret” and there will always be a state official, who will confirm that the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria are not valid at the territory where you are and it is advisable to consider those unwritten rules if you want to make business or simply want to do your job. If you have courage, stand up for your positions and opinion. If you let them break you, you will become a part of the status quo. Do not believe that with a single “curtsy” to “the owners” you will be protected and they will allow you to continue or fulfill the purpose you have come for. They won't! This is only the beginning! At the end either you become an obedient satellite or you leave! In either case, there is not anyone who can help or support you, If this processes continue, however, and there isn't evidence for their termination or limitation, Bulgaria is facing the reality to turn into a genuine Swiss cheese. It’s delicious but no for everyone. Fragrant but with a special fragrance. Solid outside but porous inside, outlining the territories of the “private” town, where the state’s and governmental institutions are missing.