Monday, February 12, 2007
Bulgarian Rakia Rebellion
America had its Whiskey Rebellion. It appears a Rakia Rebellion just might be brewing in Bulgaria.
For centuries Bulgarians in rural parts of the country have made homemade rakia, a brandy distilled from plums and grapes. Rakia has been a fairly cheap way to get a buzz on. Enter the European Union.
Bulgaria became a member of the European Union at the start of the year. The EU has a provision that calls for an excise tax on any homemade alcohol that is made in a public still. The cost of making 40 liters of rakia would jump from around $13 to $130 under the new rules.
Bulgarians are not about to take this lying down. A national protest is planned for Wednesday. Feb. 14 marks a holiday for St. Trifon "The Pruner" (Trifon Zarezana), to celebrate the annual trimming of grape vines.
Support for the Rakia Rebellion appears fairly strong. More than 250,000 have signed petitions against the EU tax. Bulgaria is one of the poorest members of the EU and making rakia is one way rural citizens have traditionally come together.