GAS WISE

by Anthony Georgieff; photography by BTA

Bulgaria steps up its dependence on Russian energy

boyko borisov gives vladimir putin a dog.jpg

Despite its protestations that it would diversify its sources of fuel to avoid an almost complete dependence on Russian gas and oil, the incumbent Bulgarian government has approved a contract to set up a Bulgarian-Russian company to construct the Southern Stream pipeline through Bulgarian territory. No lesser a person than Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to Bulgaria on a whistlestop tour for the signing ceremony. The details of the deal remain unclear, but some political parties were quick to label it a "precipitous" and "irresponsible" return to the Russian sphere of power dependence.

Seen in context, the deal is the finalisation of what President Georgi Parvanov and then President Vladimir Putin had agreed on in 2008. At the time, Parvanov had hailed the deal as a "grand slam" for Bulgaria. Many governments in the EU, however, had expressed strong reservations, as the pipeline carrying Russian gas would increase Europe's dependence on Russian energy.

Some Russian media commented that Bulgaria had finally capitulated to Russia: there will be no reduced gas prices but only new financial commitments for the Bulgarian taxpayers.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov defended the deal, as he pronounced that Bulgaria stood to gain several billion euros from it. It was not immediately clear how and when the Russian money would start flowing into Bulgaria. Talking to the domestic media, while visiting an Orthodox monastery near Sofia, Borisov said: "The price of gas will fall. But as this is between two commercial companies, they fear that if they reduce the price of gas then everyone will go to them asking for reduced prices. This is why we decided not to disclose anything. The price of gas is falling and will continue to fall."

James Warlick, the American ambassador, commented: "I do not know what to think about the gas prices. One day I hear that they will increase, the next day I hear they will fall. What is certain is that Bulgarians pay high prices for the gas they get."

In the coldest months of 2009 Russia caused a major energy crisis in Bulgaria and some other southeast European states by stopping energy supplies over a commercial dispute with Ukraine. For a week, large parts of Bulgaria, including the capital Sofia, were left without central heating.

During his visit to Bulgaria, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov presented his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin with a two-month-old puppy by the name of Yorgo. Yorgo is a Greek name corresponding to the Bulgarian Georgi. Upon his return to Russia Putin launched a public campaign asking Russians to suggest another name for the dog. Some of the suggestions sent to the prime minister's web site included names like Yoda, Yo-Yo, Yoghurt and, of course, Boyko. The winner? Baffi.

  • COMMENTING RULES

    Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

WHO IS AFRAID OF VASIL 'SKULL' BOZHKOV?
While Bulgarians left, right and centre are quibbling over the fate of a pile of stones crowned by some sculpted Red Army soldiers in central Sofia, the state prosecution service quietly terminated a case started by Vasil Bozhkov, one of this country's weal

RUMOURS OF GERB'S DEMISE TURN OUT TO BE PREMATURE
Polling agencies got it wrong again

CHURCH OF DISCONTENT
Colourful and gilt-domed, looking like a toy, the St Nicholas the Miracle-Worker church in central Sofia is known to Bulgarians simply as the Russian Church.

PP-DB'S FALSE STARTS
Notwithstanding the amendments to the Constitution proposed by Nikolay Denkov's "fixture" (the word he uses to describe the government), several bits of legislation put forward by the rulers and quickly voted into law have raised eyebrows and prompted a sig

UPS & DOWNS OF BULGARIAN ANTISEMITISM
А crudely-cut cartoon circulating on social media shows Former Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi, who is Jewish, being held by two Nazi-clad soldiers. The text (in Bulgarian) reads: "If you don't want Russian gas, we will give you some of ours."

IT'S THE HISTORY, STUPID!
In 2013, when the Inland Revenue agency started a probe into alleged wrongdoing by then President Rosen Plevneliev, he famously excused himself: I am not a Martian. Plevneliev had been a minister for Boyko Borisov.

BYE-BYE, IVAN GESHEV
Three years after the event, the massive street protests that blocked the traffic in Central Sofia in the course of months, in 2020, seem to have achieved their original aims.
END OF 'MAFIA STATE'?
If anyone believed that the CC-DB, or Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria alliance, who lost the April election and are now the second largest party in the Bulgarian National Assembly, were serious in their declared and oft-repeated pledges they wanted to

WILL THE DISGUSTED EMBRACE THE DISGUSTING?
Despite the massive and apparently rather expensive advertising campaign, which involved TV, print, outdoor and plenty of Facebook, the Changes Continued-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) alliance lost the 2 April election.
LONG LIVE RED ARMY MONUMENT!
Whenever developed democracies hold a general election, at stake – usually – are pressing issues of the day. Oil, terrorism, immigration. Nuclear weapons. Abortion rights. Inflation. Climate change. The cost of living...

WHO IS WHO AND WHO WANTS WHAT IN THE UPCOMING BULGARIAN GENERAL ELECTION?
It was called by President Rumen Radev, who is now the de facto ruler of this country, acting through the caretaker governments he appoints, because the previous election, in October 2022, failed to produce any kind of political alignment that could form a
BYE-BYE, SCHENGEN
The Netherlands and Austria have decided not to endorse Bulgaria's acceptance in Schengen, the European system for police and legal cooperation that allows for passport-less travel between member states.