On Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights announced it has found Bulgarian judges guilty of wilfully disregarding alleged racist statements by far-right politician Volen Siderov against Jews and Roma. The plaintiffs had complained that Bulgarian courts had failed to recognize that anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial claims made by Mr Siderov in his books, as well as a series of anti-Roma remarks on TV, radio and print media, constitute hate speech. The cases lodged in Bulgarian courts regarding the leader of Ataka ("Attack") party have all been dismissed.
In financial news, the Bulgarian National Bank said on Tuesday that it has sold 153.4 million euro worth of 10,5-year Treasury bonds due in August 2031 at an auction held on Monday, and is planning to auction another 102,3 million euro worth of 5-year Treasury bonds on 22 February.
Bulgarian economy shrank 3,8 percent in the last quarter of 2020
The fallout from the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of the year was serious, with an overall decrease of GDP for the fourth quarter of 2020 of 3,8 percent, the National Statistics Institute announced on Tuesday. This probably stems from the closure of most public venues in December, with retail and fuel sales plummeting the most (a drop of 60 and 27 percent on a yearly basis, respectively). According to preliminary calculations by Eurostat, the EU economy as a whole shrunk 6,4 percent last year.
Defense Minister to give lucrative APC contract to state-owned Terem company
On Wednesday, Bulgarian Defense Minister Krassimir Karakachanov will propose to the Council of Ministers dropping the 730 million euro procurement for the acquisition of 150 armored personnel carriers (APCs). The purchase will be commissioned directly to the state-owned military company Terem, Mr Karakachanov told bTV on 13 February. The Defense Ministry wants to bring the project forward to before the election. The aim is to circumvent the competitive bidding procedure, ongoing for the last three years, which has stаlled due to expensive offers from the main competitors, General Dynamics European Land Systems and Patria.
Government launches 39 million euros worth of REACT-EU grants for companies
The Ministry of Economy has brought forward an anticipated program designed to support medium-sized companies with revenue of over 250,000 euro under the European Commission REACT-EU program. Part of the Innovation and Competitiveness Framework Programme, the scheme will provide grants of up to 25,000 euro up to a threshold of 39 million euro. It was supposed to start at the beginning of 2020, but the funds for it were diverted to support the authorities' first anti-pandemic economic support measure.