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Media Review: Jan. 4

The idea that a government can be formed under the second mandate granted by President Rumen Radev lasted just an hour, 24 Chasa says. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the former government coalition partner of the present second-mandate holder Continue the Change, said it will not support the list of priorities proposed by that party. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, GERB and Vazrazhdane stayed out of the meeting convened by Continue the Change. Democratic Bulgaria was the only political force that declared unequivocal support for the mandate holder.
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BSP will hold constructive dialogue for forming a cabinet, MP Kristian Vigenin said, speaking at a meeting with Prime Minister-designate Nikolay Denkov, as quoted in the main story of Duma. According to Vigenin, Bulgaria needs a regular government and political stability. “On the other hand, we should not try to form a government for its own sake or at the cost of unprincipled compromises,” he stressed.
The desire of Continue the Change to maintain dialogue is assessed positively by BSP, but this cannot be viewed as a process of negotiations for forming a government, Vigenin said. He declared that BSP will not support the list of priorities proposed by Continue the Change as a condition for setting up the future government.
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To appease BSP, Continue the Change softened its tone of speaking about helping Ukraine in the declaration with which it is seeking political consensus for the future government, bTV said. The declaration was edited to make it acceptable to all, the television noted. It is still unclear what compromise has been made about the wording of the declaration and whether this would be enough to make BSP change their mind and support Continue the Change. This emerged from remarks made by Continue the Change Floor Leader Andrei Gyurov for bTV.
According to Prime Minister-designate Nikolay Denkov, the differences between BSP and Continue the Change have to do with the war in Ukraine and election law amendments.
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Acting on its own initiative, the Sofia Regional Prosecution Office launched an investigation into reports that journalist Dimitar Stoyanov, who works for the investigative website, has been threatened, reports. Stoyanov wrote on social media that the tyres of his company car had been slashed. He said he accepts the act as a threat against the whole staff of Stoyanov has been invited to provide information which could help identify the perpetrators. After the incident, the Association of European Journalists called for resolute action against the harassment of journalists.
Stoyanov has conducted many journalistic investigations into corruption, recalls. His investigation about the Josi company, whose ex-owner complained to the Interior Ministry that he had been blackmailed by Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, was mentioned in a letter in which US Congressman Warren Davidson criticized the Bulgarian prosecution service.
Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev, who has been declared wanted by the Kremlin, was the hidden star of the Netflix documentary “Navalny”, 24 Chasa says. According to the daily, it was Grozev who revealed how exactly Navalny was poisoned and made the special services admit to their involvement in the operation. The paper lists five things Grozev did that greatly offended Moscow (not counting the Navalny investigation). Ever since the beginning of the Russian “special operation” in Ukraine, he has been using open-source software to uncover military crimes. The website identified the IT specialists in a secret group firing high-precision missiles at Ukraine.
In another investigation, the Bulgarian identified two senior Russian officers involved in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy in 2014. Two years later, Grozev and his colleagues exposed Russian military intelligence officers who tried to engineer a coup in Montenegro. In 2018, Grozev developed further a Western investigation identifying those who poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal. For this documentary, Grozev and his team won the European Press Prize.
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Towards the close of last year, the National Assembly gave the green light to what should only be the first batch of Bulgarian military supplies to Ukraine, and now the question arises of who should decide on further supplies: the National Assembly or the executive government, says.
The rules have changed to the effect that any further Bulgarian military aid to Ukraine will require additional agreements ratified by the Bulgarian National Assembly. MPs have commented unofficially that they see another attempt by President Rumen Radev and the caretaker government to raise barriers to aid for Ukraine. If there is no functioning National Assembly in Sofia, which is likely to happen very soon, it will be impossible to make decisions on future supplies, the website says.
Bulgaria will have access to five Turkish terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG), from where it will receive 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas annually via the Turkish gas transmission network, reports, covering the signing of a 13-year agreement between the companies Bulgargaz and Botas in Sofia in the presence of caretaker Minister of Energy Rossen Hristov and Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez.
After the agreement was signed, Donmez and Prime Minister Galab Donev discussed other opportunities for bilateral energy cooperation, the website says. It quotes the Bloomberg agency as saying that the deal opens a welcome new route for gas supplies in Southeastern Europe after Russia cut its supplies to the continent following the invasion of Ukraine. Up until now, the closest point where Bulgaria had access to LNG was Greece, where buyers competed for slots according to EU rules. Turkey, a non-EU country linked to the EU with a gas pipeline, is not bound by such rules and has backup capacity.
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Bulgaria has secured the amount of natural gas it needs until the end of 2023, Bulgargaz Executive Director Denitsa Zlateva said on the morning talk show of BNT1, the main channel of Bulgarian National Television. Zlateva noted that, to judge from market indicators, the price of natural gas should be lower in February. Alternative gas supplies have been secured for January, including from the Turkish company Botas, to make up for the expensive gas that was injected into the Chiren storage facility in Northwestern Bulgaria. The warm weather helps as well, because it has enabled Bulgargaz to take almost no gas from Chiren so far during the heating season. Zlateva hopes that Chiren will not have much weight in calculating the gas price.
She described Tuesday’s gas deal between Bulgaria and Turkiye as a breakthrough in bilateral energy relations. She noted that the deal became a fact less than a month after a meeting between the two countries’ presidents Rumen Radev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Bulgargaz is the first non-Turkish company to gain access to Turkiye’s LNG terminals and gas transmission network. Bulgaria will be able to unload up to 14 tankers of LNG at Botas-owned terminals annually. The unloaded gas will be transported via Turkiye’s gas transmission network to the border with Bulgaria. This ensures security and flexibility of supplies, the Bulgargaz chief said.
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The Black Sea is being poisoned every day as a result of the decomposition of plastic waste, researchers from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) warned, as quoted in the main story of Trud. The pollution caused by “the plastic soup” in the sea is hazardous to humans and sea organisms, the paper says. It quotes a survey by the BAS Institute of Oceanology which shows that plastic waste is concentrated around Cape Kaliakra and the Kamchia River mouth. The Director of the Institute, Assoc. Prof. Nikolai Valchev, said that the monitoring of microplastic pollution in the sea should become routine, but this requires expensive equipment.
A controversy about the copyright on the “Dunavsko Horo”, the first tune which Bulgarians hear on their National Television after midnight on New Year’s night, is discussed in the main story of 24 Chasa. Diko Iliev, grandson and namesake of the composer who created the popular horo chain-dance tune in 1937, has told the daily that the heirs have not asked for “Dunavsko Horo” to be brought off the air. They learned about the controversy from the media. This does not mean that people should not pay for copyright, Iliev noted. In 2022, the three heirs earned a modest BGN 325 each in copyright royalties for the tune.