After the victory in Bulgaria Kremlin-friendly President rumen Radeva economic dependence on Russia, which controls crucial sectors – energy, banking and real estate, can further intensify, writes the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, material, excerpts of which publishes site InoPressa. What is happening now, the German newspaper and the experts of the Sofia Center for the study of democracy compared to the “state capture”.
Even 10 years after accession to the EU Bulgaria remains tied to Moscow, says the publication. The Kremlin distributes the impact, primarily through the Russian energy company, namely the supply of gas, construction of gas pipelines or nuclear power plants, with the implementation of major projects “estimates highly overstated.”
In the case of NPP “Belene” in comparison with the construction cost increased by 10 billion euros. After coming to power Pro-European GERB party, Boyko Borisov, led the construction of the station in 2012, was terminated, but the Russian company Atomstroyexport filed a lawsuit against Bulgaria to the international court of arbitration of the International chamber of Commerce with the requirement to pay 1.1 billion euros for the work performed and compensation.
In mid-June 2016 the claim of the Russian side was partially satisfied: the Bulgarian side was obliged to pay “Atomstroyexport” almost 602 million euros plus 130 euros per day in interest until, will not be paid until the principal sum. This “huge sum for a country with a GDP of 11 billion euros”, said the German newspaper.
After the next negotiations in the end of October, “Atomstroyexport” and the Bulgarian NEK signed an agreement to pay the country’s debt for the NPP “Belene”. Moscow agreed to forgive nearly 24 million euros accrued interest in the case, if the Bulgarians will return the debt to December 15.
Energy dependence has increased thanks to new projects
Two reactors of NPP “Kozloduy”, built by Soviet specialists on the banks of the Danube river, generates almost two thirds of Bulgarian electricity. Under the old Treaty, Bulgaria had to buy the fuel rods (fuel elements – the main structural elements of the reactors) in Russia. As a result, in late October, the Russian side has signed a contract worth 360 million euros for the modernization of the first reactor. Soon will be the modernization of the second reactor.
In addition, the country’s largest network of gas stations and the only oil refinery, the largest in the Balkans, owned by the Russian company “LUKOIL”. In addition, Bulgaria imports from Russia all of its oil. The Russian monopoly leads to the fact that “the cost of manufacturing and logistics in the oil sector are the highest in the EU,” criticizes research center CSD in Sofia.
Bulgaria pays “Gazprom” the highest price in Europe
To Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled, owns half of the largest Bulgarian gas distribution company. Besides, “Gazprom” supplies to nearly all its gas. Due to the lack of alternatives costs Bulgaria is very expensive: it pays to “Gazprom” the highest price for gas in Europe – on average 30% more than Germany, the study said The Kremlin Playbook of Moscow’s influence in countries like Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and also Slovakia and Latvia, prepared by the Washington Center for strategic and international studies (CSIS) and the experts of the Center for the study of democracy in Sofia (CSD).
The study says that Russia is “directly controls a quarter of the Bulgarian economy”. “For example, we analyzed the data from the registers of entrepreneurs and established the real owners of Russia,” – says the report’s co-author Martin Vladimirov.
According to him, the study “was done conservatively”, “but if we take into account the indirect influence of the Russians, it turns out that Russia controls from 35 to 40% of our economy.” With the assessment that “Russia controls at least a third of the economy of Bulgaria”, and agree to Western diplomats working in Sofia.
Real estate in Bulgaria owned by 84 thousand Russians
Russian influence also extends to the banking sector and real estate. According to the news service Novinite, real estate 7.2-million population of Bulgaria, especially the black sea coast, owned 84 thousand Russians.
Russia, the article says, has a strong and often corrupt influence in government, Parliament and in the media. According to experts of the CSD, it is an “advanced stage of state capture” and aiming at weakening the relations of Bulgaria with the EU.
The President-elect rumen Radev, the candidate of the opposition Bulgarian socialist party, during the election campaign earned points with a positive attitude in relations with Russia, has said it wants to rebuild ties with the Kremlin and to remove Russia from EU sanctions.
As in Europe, a “Pro-Putin elite”
The publication Politico has compiled a list of friendly to Russia countries showing, in the opinion of the newspaper, in the West formed “a private Pro-Putin elite”. In the list in addition to Bulgaria includes France, Estonia, Moldova, USA, the Netherlands, Greece and Hungary, writes InoPressa.
Thanks to Francois Fillon, who won the primaries, conservatives, the French friends of Putin can stay at the Elysee Palace in June, said Politico. Former Prime Minister calls Russia an “important partner” of Europe, wants to remove the sanctions and considers that the Western powers provoke it, by expanding NATO at the expense of States that are too close to its borders, and advocates the coalition of Western countries with Russia to combat terrorist group “Islamic state” (ISIS, DAISH, is prohibited in Russia) in Syria.
The likely opponent Fillon – marine Le Pen, an even more devoted friend of Putin. Her party the front national in 2014 received a loan of 9 million euros from the Pro-Russian Bank. Le Pen has repeatedly called for an end to sanctions against Russia.
In Estonia the formation of a government commissioned jüri Ratas, the – leader of the “Centrist parties” does not hide the warm feelings toward Russia and is traditionally supported by ethnic Russians in Estonia.
According to a recently won victory on presidential election, Igor Dodon from the “party of socialists of Moldova” his voters “reunited and voted in favour of friendship with Russia, neutrality.” He also said he would seek early parliamentary elections in 2017 to get rid of the current Pro-Western government.
Won the elections in the US, Donald trump repeatedly admired Putin and urged Washington to improve relations with Moscow, to work together “ending.”
The Dutch voted against the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, and it is probably a manifestation of the rise in the country of euroscepticism. He destabilizie Europe and, therefore, advantageous to Russia, and that Ukraine prevented to strengthen ties with the EU, the article says. Geert Wilders, the leader of the “freedom Party”, located on the top of pre-election polls were not in favour of Putin, but the EU opposed and urged to the exit of the Netherlands. Russian-Dutch relations, according to the paper, may interfere with the investigation of the death of Malaysian passenger Boeing 777, to establish that the plane was shot down by a missile system “Beech”, delivered from Russia.
Greece and Russia have mutual economic interests in the Balkans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called “the most important ally of Greece,” Putin Greece – “an important partner of Russia in Europe.” Last year the country signed a trade agreement, then Tsipras said that Greece, being a free country has the right to economic alliances with everybody it interesting.
The Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor orbán – supporter of closer commercial ties with Russia, especially in the energy sector. In 2014, Hungary announced the decision together with Russia to build a nuclear power station on the money given as loan, and the Orban said that “without Russian it is impossible to properly control the future of the Hungarians”.