Bulgaria’s supreme court acquits former defence minister in MiG case

Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation, in a ruling on May 10, acquitted former defence minister Nikolai Nenchev on charges related to non-fulfilment of contracts with Russian company RSK MiG regarding repairs to and delivery of spare part for Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft.

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office lodged charges in November 2016 and January 2017 against Nenchev, who held the defence portfolio in Boiko Borissov’s second government as part of the Reformist Bloc minority partner in that government.

In office, Nenchev redirected MiG-29 engine overhaul business from the Russian company to Poland, arguing at the time that this was more cost-effective and in line with Nato policy to curtail Russia’s influence. The move caused considerable annoyance on the part of the Kremlin.

The charges Nenchev faced included him having failed to carry out his official duties arising from the Defence Act, and this had caused severe harmful consequences for the Bulgarian military.

In 2017, Nenchev was acquitted at first instance by the Sofia City Court, a verdict that was upheld on appeal by higher courts in 2019 and 2020.

A statement by the Supreme Court of Cassation said the reasons for its decision were not being made public, because the case is classified for reasons of national security.

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