Internal reports of the German federal government have warned that Russia has increasing influence over the Bulgarian government and is turning Bulgaria into its bridgehead in the European Union, German magazine Spiegel reported.
Bulgaria’s governing coalition of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms is considered a loyal assistant of Moscow, while a third of Bulgaria’s economic output is directly or indirectly controlled by Moscow, according to German intelligence reports that Spiegel said it had seen.
In the governing parties, there were old communist party cadres, intelligence officials and very wealthy Bulgarian oligarchs who were doing business with Putin favourites, the report said.
The relationship had become so close that Russia was directly influencing legislation in Bulgaria.
This was a reference to allegations that amendments to Bulgaria’s Energy Act affecting the South Stream gas pipeline project were drafted by Russian gas firm Gazprom. These allegations have been denied by Bulgaria’d deputy economy and energy minister.
In spite of suspicions about Russian influence, the socialist candidate to be the next European Commission President, Martin Schulz, had visited Sofia to attend an election campaign event of the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Spiegel said that it had information that former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder would travel to Bulgaria to support the BSP election campaign.
Schröder raised eyebrows in the West by his embrace of Russian president Vladimir Putin at his birthday party, in spite of tensions in eastern Ukraine. Schröder currently is chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG.
The German media report came on the same day that anti-government activists peppered the timeline of the Facebook page of the Party of European Socialists, which is headed by BSP leader Sergei Stanishev, with queries about Stanishev’s presence at a May 9 Victory Day event at the Soviet Army Monument in Sofia, saying that on the same day, members of the Russophile organisation in Bulgaria had burnt an EU flag at the monument and chanted anti-EU and anti-IMF slogans.
(Photo, of BSP leader Sergei Stanishev and senior BSP members at the Soviet Army Monument in Sofia at a celebration of Russia’s Victory Day, May 9 2014: bsp.bg)