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Russia is the energy monopolist in Bulgaria

31 May 2013 / 18:05:24  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

There has been a new government in Bulgaria for several days now and everyone is awaiting its first actions. Writer Vladimir Levchev, who is also one of the most popular bloggers in Bulgaria, is talking with GRReporter about the specific challenges to Oresharski’s cabinet and its actual ability to solve the serious problems of Bulgaria.

Mr. Levchev, how would you comment on the configurations in the new parliament? Will the new cabinet survive long?

Half of the voters are not represented in this parliament because they voted for parties that did not cross the 4% threshold or they did not vote at all. The hard cores of major parties have won. The Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party has won the highest number of seats but they are not enough in order for it to govern. Moreover, it has remained in isolation. All are against GERB. Now, the configuration in parliament is such that the government depends on the Attack party. If the Attack party continues its double-faced policy by not voting formally and reducing the quorum thus enabling the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) – Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) coalition to push its line, or if it begins to honestly vote along with the MRF and BSP, the government will persist. However, if the Attack party decides to become an opposition in parliament, the government cannot survive. Regardless of whether Oresharski’s cabinet is expert and the extent to which it is such, the prime minister is a hostage to Volen Siderov.

International commentators agree that the most serious problem in Bulgaria is corruption. Do you think that this composition of the government will be able to deal with it?

Unfortunately, I do not think so. Only a strong government could handle corruption as well as parliament in which there is consensus for drastic changes in the judicial system. This government rests on an absurd tacit coalition, involving a party with neo-Nazi anti-ethnic rhetoric and an ethnic liberal party, along with the Socialists. Such a government cannot be strong. Moreover, this parliament is definitely divided and riddled with confrontations more than the previous one. There is no clear majority.

In his interview for GRReporter, journalist Petar Volgin states that GERB can continue to exist and even to return to power if it is able to seize the right wing. Do you share this opinion? What are the chances for a new strong right-wing party outside parliament to establish itself and for it to survive?

For me, one of the problems is that the left and right wings in Bulgaria have been increasingly "seized" by some pseudo- left and pseudo-right wings. The BSP, the party that has introduced the 10% flat tax, is not a left-wing party in fact. It is rather a centre-right party serving oligarchic interests. The green party would have been a modern left-wing alternative, but it did not enter parliament. There is no real right-wing alternative in Bulgaria either. The UDF has destroyed itself alone, although there was a militia project between the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB) and the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) to defeat the Blue coalition. This project has succeeded. The UDF committed suicide to prevent DSB from entering parliament. I still hope that the Blue coalition may have a future.

The government of GERB would not have fallen so easily if it had formed a logical centre-right coalition within the United People’s Party (UPP) along with the Blue coalition instead of opportunistically seeking support from the Order, Law and Justice (OLJ) party at times and then from the Attack party and the Blue coalition. This chance has been wasted.

Formally, the GERB government resigned because of the protests which were caused by high electricity bills. In your opinion, should the energy sector be one of the priorities of the cabinet? Could the bills be reduced and in what way? If this does not happen, could we expect more protests?

I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I'm afraid that the energy mafia has contributed to the fall of the government, including by the sharp increase in electricity prices after the failed referendum on NPP "Belene". There is a foreign country, and it is Russia, which, in fact, is an energy monopolist in Bulgaria. Supposedly, the ultra-right Attack party is also serving Russian energy interests in Bulgaria. Yes, a new increase in electricity bills can easily overthrow the government, especially if the Attack party decides to join the inevitable street protests.

Following the announcement of the election results, the joke "there is a way out of the situation in Bulgaria and this is "Terminal 2" at Sofia airport" was very popular on Facebook. Do you think that this is the only way out for the reasonable people who are disappointed with the election results?

No, absolutely not. The "Terminal 2" alternative is similar to the alternative of "I will not vote in the elections, because all are scoundrels." What could be better for corrupt and mediocre people who are destroying Bulgaria than reasonable people not going to vote or leaving the country en masse? I think this is the dream of corrupt and mediocre people who want to be in power and steal freely. We must not help them make their dream come true.

Many international organizations and European observers criticize the commitment of Bulgarian media with specific economic interests. You have your own blog but you are also present in the press. Do you think that there is censorship in Bulgaria? Do the media express various opinions and are the publications strictly controlled?

Yesterday, I published a blog article about "peels" among journalists, intellectuals and politicians. Maybe it will not be published in the official press. Indeed, political power in Bulgaria is concentrated in a specific bank since it keeps the money of the government on the one hand and on the other, this bank funds a number of media. Moreover, often the media act as "peels” or weathervanes when there is a change in the government. Anyone who is in power has the support of the media. Only periods of anarchy, such as the one that has just ended, allow a greater variety. Now, the majority of the media will protect the new government as they protected the government of GERB before it fell.

Tags: PoliticsBulgarian cabinetCorruptionEnergyRight wingVladimir Levchev
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