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Bulgaria: Petrol And Energy Prices Jump Dramatically

Sofia, August 1 (RFE/RL) -- A new round of energy price increases hit Bulgaria today with price hikes on gasoline, electricity, coal and central heating, reports RFE/RL's Bulgarian Broadcast Service.

Gasoline prices went up 12 percent to a new high of 52 cents per liter. That price hike follows the doubling of the price of petrol in June--a move that triggered angry protests from hundreds of taxi drivers who blocked the streets near the parliament and clashes with police.

The price of electricity, which increased 118 percent in July, has risen by another 22 percent today. Central heating and coal prices also increased by 22 percent today.

Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government justified the price increases on grounds that the Bulgarian currency, the lev, had lost more than half of its value against the dollar since April.

The government has refused to fix the minimum wage rate in Bulgaria, making minimum wages equal to about $21 a month.