Oddly Enough

Bulgarians name brandy after PM after tax victory

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian villagers have named their home-made rakia brandy “Borisovka,” playing on the name of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov to thank him for stopping parliament from raising taxes on alcohol.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov speaks to the media in front of the polling station in Bankya, near Sofia, November 15, 2009. REUTERS/Oleg Popov

Last month, the Balkan country’s new center-right government abandoned plans to raise alcohol taxes after public anger that this would threaten a centuries-old tradition of making wine and rakia at home.

But the parliament’s budget commission later proposed a hike from 2010 and parliament was due to approve the increase on Wednesday when Borisov, a firefighter by training with a black belt in karate, stepped in and asked deputies to scrap the plan.

To express their gratitude, the villagers of Kapatovo, 170 km (100 miles) south of Sofia, decided to call their 2009 rakia “Borisovka,” emulating Russian vodka brand “Putinka” that plays on the name of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“The people of my village and other villages are jubilant. But not because we are drunkards, this must be clear. We simply want to preserve this tradition of making rakia at home,” Standart daily quoted Kapatovo’s mayor Ognyan Kukov as saying.

Bulgarian families are allowed to produce 30 liters a year of rakia, a traditional grape brandy, without paying tax.

“We must protect the ordinary people who spend their time hoeing the vineyards,” Borisov has said.

Kukov will send several bottles to Borisov, Standart said.

To try to secure revenue during the recession, parliament instead raised the tax on gambling by 5 percentage points to 15 percent.

“Better slightly tipsy than robbed,” media quoted parliamentarian Krasimir Velchev, from Borisov’s GERB party, as saying.

Reporting by Anna Mudeva