Tuesday was marked by two media freedom cases. First, the Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria announced their member, journalist Dimiter Kenarov, who was beaten and illegally detained by police during the 2020 summer protests, has now been called to prove he is a journalist by the police, and is being probed by the national tax authorities. "Such an investigation is an example of how state institutions use their authority to repress a citizen who dares claim their rights," AEJ wrote in a statement. Later, bTV complained that caretaker Internal Minister Boyko Rashkov said during an interview for the National Radio that if he was the director of the TV station, he would fire the journalists who interviewed him on Monday's morning talk show.
Health Minister reopens schools, attending sporting events allowed at 50% capacity
Sports events in Bulgaria will be open to the public from May 19, with attendance limited to half capacity. Face masks must be worn and a 1,5 m. distance rule observed. Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov's announcement followed a meeting with the management of football club CSKA, which lobbied for opening up stadiums for the final of the Bulgarian Cup on Wednesday. From 31 May, students from all school years and universities will also return to classrooms in person.
GDP up 2,5% in the first quarter of 2021, down only 1,1% from Q1 2020
Bulgarian GDP grew 2,5 percent quarter to quarter in the first three months of 2021 and marked only a -1.8 percent dip compared to the figure in Q1 2020, the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute announced on Tuesday. The numbers are better than the European Commission had estimated in its spring economic forecast, and the economy is expected to return to pre-crisis levels by end-2021. Growth was hampered by weak export figures, but was boosted by investments (up 1,2 percent) and consumption (up 2,6 percent).
Huge interest in new renewable power stations in 2021
Twenty-two investors have applied to connect 1971 MW of renewable energy power stations to the grid since the start of the year, the Bulgarian Energy System Operator (ESO) says. This is a four-fold increase compared to the same period in 2020 and amounts to the entire power generated by renewable sources (bar water power stations) in Bulgaria currently. The boom of new renewable sources is likely due to the relaxation of the rule that compelled investors to contribute 5 percent of the revenue they generated to a energy grid security fund.