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10 Mar, 2013 18:18

Rolex of Doom: Bulgarian cleric fails to sell gold watch to cover his church’s electricity bill

Rolex of Doom: Bulgarian cleric fails to sell gold watch to cover his church’s electricity bill

A high-ranked Bulgarian cleric, who wanted to sell his gold Rolex in order to pay the electricity bills of his penniless church, couldn’t find a buyer for the expensive watch in the EU's weakest economy.

Metropolitan Nikolay of the city of Plovdiv announced plans to part with his watch in February after his Saint Marina church received a 3,000-lev (around $2,000) power bill.

"I'd rather go to heaven without a watch than to hell with one," he told state BTA agency back then.

But it seems the cleric would have to travel to the spirit world with the watch firmly on his wrist as the public tender for the Rolex failed to attract any bidders on Sunday due to the high asking price of 11,600 lev (around $7,700).

Nikolay's Rolex as well as a Lincoln car owned by his counterpart from the city of Varna have attracted anger and criticism from the country’s press and general public.

Bulgaria's Orthodox Church is experiencing severe money shortages, despite being the largest property owner in the country after the state. Paying utility bills became an even bigger problem as the cost of electricity in the country more than doubled in January.

Demonstrators sit in silence while listening to Bulgaria national anthem during a protest against high electricity bills in Sofia on February 20,2013 (AFP Photo / Nikolay Doychinov)

The move resulted in tens of thousands taking to the streets in protest, which forced the resignation of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov last month.

The rallies continue in Bulgaria, but on a smaller scale now, with hundreds taking part in demonstrations in different parts of the country for a fourth Sunday in a row.

On March 10, the protesters convened again, this time demanding a halt to the planned sell-off of the state railway's cargo unit and an audit of all the privatization deals.

But with fewer people showing up, the protests are likely to lose steam over the coming weeks.

An early election is scheduled for May 12 in Bulgaria, with Borisov's center-right GERB party and the Socialists showing equal results in the opinion polls, suggesting difficulties in forming a government and more political instability.

People shout slogans as they block the traffic during a protest against high electricity bills in Sofia February 17, 2013 (Reuters / Tsvetelina Belutova)