Bulgarian authorities have made a huge publicity effort to mark President Putin's visit to Sofia on Thursday, but opponents are worried about the political and economic costs of binding the country closer to Russia, writes Krassen Nikolov from Sofia in an article for Balkan Insight.

According to the article, the preparations in the Bulgarian capital for Putin's arrival resembled the start of a civil war, with dozens of streets closed to traffic and thousands of policemen deployed. That comes as shortly after Putin's visit was confirmed late last year, the Sofia government declared 2008 as the Year of Russia in Bulgaria.

But the article notes not everyone in Bulgaria goes along with the festive mood, as several NGOs announced public protests for Thursday and Friday, including a memorial ceremony for Anna Politkovskaya - the Russian journalist, for whose murder in 2006 some have blamed the Russian president.

Balkan Insight also notes the political opposition has lined up against the festive plans of the government, with the centre-right Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, DSB, releasing an alternative banner with the call, "Putin Go Home!"

Read more on the Balkan Insight website