News show launched for Ukrainians in Bulgaria as number of Ukrainian refugees increases

Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) has started news broadcasts in Ukrainian, as official government figures show a steady increase recently in the numbers of Ukrainians registered for temporary protection and accommodated in Bulgaria.

BNT posts the broadcasts, a version of its Bulgarian-language news broadcast, on its website and on social networks including YouTube.

The news is presented by Maria Plachkova, who said that the show is mainly intended for Ukrainians who currently live in Bulgaria.

The Ukrainian embassy has expressed its gratitude for the broadcasts, which began on June 19.

According to the dedicated government portal on Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria, since Russia’s February 2022 illegal invasion of Ukraine, a total of 1 376 157 Ukrainians have entered Bulgaria, while 74 040 remain in the country.

A total of 161 511 have temporary protection under an EC directive, and 13 775 are accommodated through a system of state support for places of accommodation hosting Ukrainians who have temporary protection.

Soon after the new government came into office, the Tourism Ministry said on June 14 that the system of state support for accommodation of people displaced from Ukraine and who have temporary protection in Bulgaria will be extended beyond its current expiry date at the end of June 2023, with the aim of prolonging it to the end of this year.

The previous update on the government portal, on June 16, gave the number of Ukrainians remaining in Bulgaria as 72 457 and the number accommodated as 12 309.

On May 16, while the caretaker government was still in office, the number remaining was 50 744 and the number accommodated was 7961.

Bulgaria’s new government strongly favours enabling Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s aggression, in contrast to the policies pursued by the caretaker governments appointed by President Roumen Radev.

On June 19, Deputy Defence Minister Atanas Zapryahov told BNT that a Cabinet decision was being prepared for Bulgaria’s participation in the EU initiative to provide a million artillery shells to Ukraine through the European Peace Initiative.

Earlier, the new government signed a memorandum in Brussels on participation in Nato’s Multinational Ammunition Warehousing Initiative (MAWI), which allows the stockpiling of prepositioned stock in member countries.

On June 16, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev was reported by Bulgarian news agency BTA as telling reporters in Brussels: “Bulgaria will help Ukraine with the very clear understanding that this is not only a moral commitment to a country close to us and a victim of aggression, but it is in our strategic interest to be able to guarantee security in our region”.

Tagarev said that the European ammunition procurement initiative was just one of several and provides for increasing the production and restocking capabilities of the allies.

“Our first reaction, in my opinion, was not good enough. We stayed passive,” Tagarev said, referring to the fact that Bulgaria was still not part of the joint European purchase of 155mm calibre rounds.

“This initiative was an opportunity for investment in our defence industry to help us move towards Nato standards,” he said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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