On the last working day before the Easter weekend Bulgaria's health authorities announced the dropping of almost all anti-epidemic restrictions from next week. The "green corridors" for those over 65 to shop between 8:30am and 10:30am won't apply from 1 May, bars and clubs can reopen at half capacity and all pupils return to school in person on a rotational basis.
Parliament also changed election rules, dropping the cap of a maximum 35 polling stations in non-EU countries, allowing video recording of ballot counting and revising the rules for selecting the electoral commission (by the President) and its size (from 20 to 15 members nominated by the parties in the current Parliament).
Prosecutors oppose proposed disbanding of specialized courts
Another proposal of the National Assembly - that of its Justice Committee to disband the Specialized Courts and Prosecution offices - caused turmoil in magisterial circles. The move, still to be approved by Parliament, caused protests by members of the prosecution administration, prosecutors and police inspectors, led by Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev. The protests were backed by GERB in Parliament, who called the project "lobbyist". The Specialized courts and Prosecution Offices have become infamous for targeting business people and political opponents of status quo parties.
Bulgaria expels another Russian diplomat, asks Moscow for "full cooperation" on arms depots explosions probe
After a meeting between Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Russian ambassador to Sofia Eleonora Mitrofanova, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs designated another Russian diplomat as "persona non grata." The Ministry added that Sofia has asked Moscow to fully cooperate with the Bulgarian investigative authorities regarding the probe into four explosions in Bulgarian ammunition and arms depots over recent decades that are allegedly linked to Russian citizens. The meeting follows the State Prosecution's announcement that it is investigating links between the explosions in Bulgaria, the sabotage of munitions dumps in Czechia and the poisoning of arms dealer Emilian Gebrev in 2015.
President to pass third cabinet mandate to BSP on 5 May
Head of State Rumen Radev announced at noon on Thursday that he will pass the third and final mandate to form a cabinet to BSP on Wednesday 5 May, the first working day after the Easter and Labor Day holidays in Bulgaria. Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova, the likely nominee for prime minister, said she will convene a meeting of the party's governing body over the holidays. It is very unlikely, however, that Ms Ninova will manage to muster support to form a government as no parties in Parliament are ready to back the BSP. This means that the 45th Bulgarian Parliament would likely be dissolved in the coming fortnight, Mr Radev will appoint a caretaker government and early elections scheduled for the end of July.