Bulgaria looks into excess spending after Bulgargaz-Gazprom fallout
Two ministers from former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s government and the former CEO of state company Bulgargaz are under investigation for allegedly generating millions in losses after Russia cut gas ties with Bulgaria last year.
Those accused are all high-level officials linked to the former government led by Petkov, now co-chairman of the party We Continue the Change. These include former energy minister Alexander Nikolov, deputy energy minister Daniel Nikolov, as well as the former head of the state gas company Bulgargaz Lyudmil Yotsov.
The three are accused of allegedly having caused damages worth over €44 million to state gas company Bulgargaz after Russian provider Gazprom unilaterally violated its contract with Bulgaria and stopped the supply of blue fuel, after which it relied on several yet costly US LNG tankers, which were secured with the assistance of the EU.
“The essence of the accusation is that Bulgaria refused to obey Russian blackmail. Guess who is unhappy about it and why. Bulgaria is a European country and, as such, coordinates all its actions with the position of the EU! And if they have forgotten… Bulgaria has been declared an enemy by another country!” Alexander Nikolov wrote on Facebook.
With just two months to go before the parliamentary election on 2 April, the prosecution announcing the case is somewhat political, with members of Petkov’s party, We Continue to Change, seemingly in the firing line.
GERB, the party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov, filed reports against officials from the government of Petkov last year and recently warned that the prosecution would act against officials of Petkov’s former government before the prosecution made its announcement.
At the same time, the former head of the agency for foreign investments, Stamen Yanev, who is in close relations with Petkov’s party, was accused two weeks ago of damaging the agency’s image, according to an anonymous report forwarded to the prosecutor’s office by DPS (Renew Europe).
The prosecution also launched a criminal case in January, targeting the owners of the crypto exchange Nexo, some of whom are publicly linked to a deputy from We continue the change.
“The attack against Petkov is because he did not kneel before Gazprom,” said the energy expert and former Bulgarian ambassador to Moscow, Iliyan Vassilev, who first announced the prosecution’s charges a day before their official announcement.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)