Alexander Mihailov, recently dismissed as head of Bulgaria’s state-owned Kintex defence equipment trading firm, said in a television interview on April 27 that he believed Bulgaria was exporting military equipment to Ukraine via intermediaries.
Mihailov, a long-term employee of Kintex and who became its head in 2017, was dismissed by Economy Minister Kornelia Ninova on the grounds of alleged irregularities that the ministry has referred to prosecutors. Mihailov denies wrongdoing.
He told Nova Televizia that after February 24 this year – the start of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine – the volume of arms exports from Bulgaria had increased by three to four times.
Bulgarian arms factories had hired more employees, who were working in three shifts, according to Mihailov.
He said that after February 24, new contracts worth two billion leva (about a million euro) had been signed.
Mihailov said that weapons being used in the fighting in Ukraine were the same ones that were exported from Bulgaria.
He said that the weapons being exported to the Czech Republic and Poland were needed by neither of those countries.
The two countries had their own, very serious levels of arms production, and their militaries had gone over to Nato standards, Mihailov said.
He said that he believed that he had been dismissed to make way for a new Kintex management that would be involved in “secret arms exports”.
This is not the first time in recent days that there have been allegations that Bulgaria, whose ruling majority is divided on the issue of whether to supply military equipment to Ukraine, already has been doing so.
These claims have included a report in the New York Times, and a statement by opposition GERB-UDF leader and former Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
On April 27, there was a further political spinoff in the saga as President Roumen Radev criticised the government, and Ninova in particular, in connection with the allegations.
Radev, speaking to reporters, hit out at Ninova, who as Economy Minister must authorise or refuse arms exports and whose Bulgarian Socialist Party – part of the ruling majority – vehemently opposes proposals for Bulgaria to arm Ukraine.
“I wonder how the Minister of Economy will explain to the Bulgarians and the leftists, who have always been against the wars, that Bulgarian weapons are fuelling this conflict,” Radev said.
Responding on Facebook, Ninova said: “Mr. Radev, you want me to explain to the left what is happening with Bulgarian weapons, but you will have to explain to those who nominated you twice and elected you President what arms export agreements your caretaker government has signed”.
Ninova said that export permits were issued on the basis of what was signed then.
“And you know very well that the destinations then and now are the same – more than 50 countries and none is Ukraine,” she said.
“You will have to explain to the left why you are attacking so fiercely your own child – (Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s) We Continue the Change, which you created to kill the BSP.”
Ninova said that most of all, Radev would have to explain his metamorphosis from having supported the protests against Borissov’s government to someone who now was in “absolute sync” with Borissov.
(Screenshot of Mihailov: bTV)
For The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine, please click here.
Please support independent journalism by clicking on the orange button below. For as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies, you can support The Sofia Globe via patreon.com: