On Tuesday the Bulgarian media regulator (SEM) decided to suspend the broadcasting of the Russian TV channels Russia Today and Sputnik in Bulgaria due to "the flagrant violation of international law by the Russian Federation and the violation of the territorial integrity in the Republic of Ukraine". According to SEM, both programs are connected to the Russian government and may disseminate disinformation that justifies Russia's military actions. In other news:
In a last-minute twist, NATO diplomat Zakov is new Defense Minister instead of Todor Tagarev
After a three-hour debate, the National Assembly approved by a three quarters majority the appointment of Bulgaria's head of mission to NATO Dragomir Zakov as the new Minister of Defense. He replaces Stefan Yanev, who fell out with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and part of the coalition over his refusal to call the Russian invasion of Ukraine "war." Initially, Mr Yanev was due to be replaced by Prof Todor Tagarev, but the latter's nomination was allegedly vetoed by BSP, who saw him as too hawkish.
Three quarters of Bulgaria say Ukraine invasion was unjustified: Alpha Research
The unprovoked Russian attack against Ukraine has caused a significant change of heart in the traditionally Russophile Bulgarian population, an Alpha Research study published on Tuesday claims. The study shows a dramatic fall in the popularity of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was approved by 58 percent of respondents as recently as in March 2020, but only by 32 percent today.
Electricity prices, production spike amidst Ukraine crisis
The Bulgarian Energy Exchange announced a record-high 498.48 BGN per MWh price of electricity on the "Day Ahead" market on Tuesday. This is the highest price recorded since 27 January and is a clear signal of market concerns regarding the war in Ukraine. By comparison, on Monday, electricity was trading at 324 BGN/MWh, while the average price of electricity in February in Bulgaria was 369 BGN/MWh. At the same time, the National Statistics Institute said that in the last month of 2021, Bulgaria produced just over 5 terawatt hours of electricity, or 29 percent more compared to December 2020.