The Bulgarian security services have information that Bulgarian politicians, public figures, well-known journalists, analysts and others are paid directly by the Russian state in order to shape public opinion in favour of Russia, according to Lena Borislavova, chief of staff of outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
Such people were being paid 4000 leva (about 2045 euro) a month, Borislavova said in an interview with Darik Radio on July 2.
Borislavova said that it had already been established in February that there were people who appeared in broadcasts “who are paid, including from the Russian state”.
She was speaking against the background of days of controversy that followed Petkov’s announcement that 70 people at the Russian embassy were being expelled. In his initial announcement, Petkov said that the diplomats had been working against the interests of Bulgaria’s national security.
Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, who irked the government by presenting an “ultimatum” to reverse the expulsion decision, said on July 1 that she was proposing that Russia’s leadership close the embassy in Sofia, which – she said – would result in the closure of Bulgaria’s embassy in Moscow.
Bulgaria’s Innovation and Growth Minister Daniel Lorer, interviewed by Bulgarian National Television (BNT) on July 2, said that even if diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Russia were broken off and Moscow’s mission in Sofia was closed, this would not significantly affect Bulgaria’s economy.
“Nothing will happen to the Bulgarian economy. Absolutely nothing,” Lorer told BNT.
“Russia has not been such a factor for our country for a long time, as some were used to it being before 1989,” Lorer said.
“The European Union is the biggest investor in the Bulgarian state. Of course, after ourselves, when our taxes are not being stolen,” he said.
Russian tourists were no longer a leading factor in Bulgaria’s tourism industry, and nor were imports of goods from Russia important to the economy, Lorer said.
According to Lorer, after Russia suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria, this country had been able to achieve the long-awaited diversification in gas supplies and was currently receiving natural gas from the US and Azerbaijan.
The policy being conducted by Russian ruler Vladimir Putin was actually helping to break dependencies, not only in Bulgaria, Lorer said.
He said that the Lukoil Bourgas refinery would be able to process other types of oil from other sources, if this became necessary because of the aggressive policy on the part of Russia.
Lorer said that it would be dangerous if the Kozloduy nuclear power station runs out of Russian nuclear fuel, because the fuel certification processes are long and the Bulgarian government will have to think about where to get fuel from.
But Bulgaria had fuel for the nuclear power station for at least a year or two, so this was not an urgent problem, Lorer said.
“We thank Russia’s aggressive diplomacy, which helps us to emancipate ourselves from them. For months, Putin has been trying to blackmail the world with everything possible – gas, wheat, weapons. But the world is coping,” Lorer said.
Please support The Sofia Globe by clicking on the orange button below and signing up to become a supporter on patreon.com. Becoming a patron of The Sofia Globe costs as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies.