Good afternoon on Friday! As the weekend before the renewed lockdown starts and Bulgarian restaurateurs complain that their employees are leaving amid all the uncertainty, the State Prosecution has been dominating news. The first story has a comic twist - two employees of a print company were bailed after being arrested earlier this week for producing millions of counterfeit euro and dollars. The reason? The quality of the counterfeit money was so low that courts doubted they could ever be used in real transactions. The defendants' lawyers claimed the "fake" money was exactly that - fake banknotes for celebrations or theatrical purposes. The other operation of the Prosecution, however, sounds more serious.
Six people with links to Military Intelligence indicted for spying for Russia
After an intense police operation on Thursday that saw hundreds of commuters exiting Sofia being checked by police, today the State Prosecution announced six people have been indicted for spying for Russia. The group consists of a number of current and ex-officers of the Military Intelligence department of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, as well as the wife of the most senior detainee. According to the authorities, the alleged spies were trying to find information about the future plans of NATO. This is the first time members of the Bulgarian public services have been indicted for spying, although a series of spying allegations led to the dismissal of Russian diplomats in recent months.
Trade deficit shrinks by 58 percent in January
According to calculations of Investor.bg, Bulgaria has decreased its trade deficit by 58 percent on a yearly basis to 33,1 million euro as of January 2020, Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) data shows. The current and capital balance is positive at 118 million euro, whereas it ran at a deficit of 36,5 million euro a year ago, BNB says. The export data showed that 2,397 billion euro worth of products left the country in January 2020, 3,6 percent less than the year before, but imports also shrank to 2,430 billion euro, or 5,3 percent. The country also keeps a positive services saldo of 142,8 million euro, down from 256,7 million in January 2020.
Over 8,000 people in hospitals with Covid-19 as AstraZeneca jabs restarted
With the new lockdown imminent, Bulgaria marked a record number of registered Covid-19 infections on Friday, with 4,008 new cases (out of close to 18,000 probes) and 8082 hospitalizations. The death toll for the day is 102. On the plus side, Sofia said it is recommencing vaccinations using AstraZeneca. The UK company's vaccinations were frozen earlier this week after a Bulgarian recipient - as well as several others in EU countries - suffered potentially deadly side effects.