Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has sharply condemned a comment by Russian MP Pyotr Tolstoy who said that he would “will buy all of Bulgaria” having already bought half its coastline.
Borissov, speaking at a September 20 Cabinet meeting, said that Bulgaria had existed for 1300 years and “no one had bought us”.
“Yes, we have had many traitors in our history and we pay for such treachery. But again we are showing that we fulfil our statutory obligations,” Borissov said.
A day earlier, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said that Tolstoy’s statement was “arrogant, totally wrong and did not contribute in any way to the development of bilateral relations”.
In a Facebook post, Mitov said that he expected that Russia’s official institutions would distance themselves from Tolstoy’s comments.
Tolstoy became a member of Russia’s parliament on the ticket of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in elections on September 18.
Formerly a presenter on Kremlin-controlled Perviy Kanal television station, Tolstoy, responded to a Bulgarian National Television journalist saying, “we hope, that if he is elected to the Duma, that he will maintain a benevolent policy towards by Bulgaria” by saying, “Of course. I’ll just buy it all. We have already bought half the coastline”.
Tolstoy, great-grandson of the writer Leo Tolstoy, sparked outrage in many parts of the Bulgarian spectrum with the comment.
In recent years, Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline property market was dominated by purchases by Russians, who took the place on the property market of Brits and Irish citizens who largely left after the start of the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. More lately, there has been a downturn in Russian activity on the property market following Russia’s economic woes as the rouble was driven downwards by a falling oil market and the effect of sanctions imposed by the EU in response to the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
An EU member, Bulgaria has supported those sanctions, even though they represent a cost to its economy. Borissov recently ordered Mitov to restore the level of relations with Russia.