The foreign affairs committee of the Bulgarian National Assembly passed on May 8 a motion condemning further economic sanctions against Russia, but the odds of the motion passing on the floor of Parliament were low.
The motion in committee was backed by the socialists and ultra-nationalists Ataka. The latter has emerged in recent months as the political party most supportive of Kremlin’s actions in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, condemning the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovich and welcoming the Russian annexation of Crimea.
This is the second attempt by the two parties to push through a motion condemning EU sanctions against Russia – Bulgaria, which is among the EU member states most reliant on Russian energy imports, fears it will be among the worst hit by the backlash of wider sanctions.
The previous attempt in March failed when the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which is part of the country’s ruling axis alongside the socialists, opposed the motion. Opposition party GERB was also against the motion.
MRF has not changed its stance since then, with one of the party’s MPs, Yanko Yankov, dismissing the new motion as “emotional” and “a legal nonsense”.
“We are not against Russia, we are not for sanctions against Russia that might harm Bulgaria, but to defend Russia does not mean opposing the EU, rather it is to pursue such a policy within the EU,” he was quoted as saying.
EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss further sanctions against Russia at their next meeting on May 12.