Consumer confidence in Bulgaria fell sharply in April compared to the beginning of the year, according to National Statistical Institute (NSI) three-monthly data published on Monday. The decline comes against the backdrop of accelerating inflation, expectations of further price increases due to the energy crisis and the military conflict. The overall consumer confidence indicator decreased by 4.9 points compared to three months ago. In other news:
Prime Minister Kiril Petkov visits Washington for two-day visit
Mr Petkov will discuss key topics of Bulgarian interest, including questions about the energy and economic security of the country according to the government press service. The visit is part of a "coordinated effort of the cabinet to combat inflation and gas deliveries," the official message adds. The Bulgarian Prime Minister will be accompanied by Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov, Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov and deputy Foreign Minister Velislava Petrova. They will be meeting the President of the World Bank, David Malpas, alongside high-level US representatives. The visit is at the invitation of the Munich Security Conference chairman Christoph Heusgen, who is organizing a leaders' summit dedicated to the war in Ukraine.
Bulgaria wants 2-year derogation from the planned embargo of Russian oil imports to the EU
Bulgaria, alongside Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, will request a two-year transition period from the EU before fully banning imports of Russian oil. This is, in short, the position expressed by Bulgarian Finance Minister Assen Vassilev in an interview for the National Television on Sunday. Mr Vassilev's reasoning is that Sofia is greatly dependent on Russian oil imports and finding replacement suppliers will be very costly, putting the Bulgarian economy at significant risk. While the EU as a whole imports about 30 percent of its oil from Russia, these four countries have much more to lose (Bulgaria is over 90 percent dependent on Russian oil). A joint EU decision is expected in the coming days.
Russophiles and pro-Ukrainians march in Sofia to commemorate 9 May
Two contesting marches - a pro-Russian and a pro-Ukrainian - are taking place to mark the anniversary of the 9 May celebration of the end of WWII. On Monday morning, hundreds of pro-Russian sympathizers commemorated the deeds of WWII-era anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi figthers with a ceremony in the center of Sofia joined by members of the Russian diplomatic corps. In the evening, a counter demonstration "Against Russian Fascism" will gather opponents of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and march from the Presidency through the Bulgarian National Radio (where openly pro-Kremlin radio host Petar Volgin works) to the Russian Embassy.