Friday was marked by an intensive Q&A session in Parliament, with both Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev grilled by the opposition. As expected, the main topics were linked to rising fuel prices and the effects they have on inflation and the business climate.
Mr Petkov assured MPs that Sofia will start receiving all of the negotiated 1 bln cubic meters of Azeri natural gas starting 1 July, thus covering about a third of its annual needs. Mr Vassilev, for his part, reiterated his claim that the EU Commission has assured him that, if there is indeed a joint European veto on oil imports from Russia, Sofia will receive an exemption for some time.
Bulgaria has oil reserves for 6 months: Vassilev
Even in the worst case scenario, the state can assure sufficient oil for domestic consumption and industry for six months, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Assen Vassilev told MPs during the Friday Parliamentary control. He added that there are buffers in the budget to fall back on if Russian oil supplies stop alongside gas deliveries. "We hope we won't reach this gloomy scenario. The Bulgarian interest is to get a two-year derogation (for buying Russian oil in case of an EU embargo on it - ed.) so that we can continue importing Russian oil while gradually diversifying oil suppliers," he said. He described Russia's decision to stop oil supplies to Bulgaria at the same time as closing the Bosphorus as the worst-case scenario, adding that discussions are underway for the launch of an oil pipeline to link Alexandroupolis, Varna and Constanta.
Bulgarian soldier injured during training at the Cheshnigirovo airbase
A Bulgarian serviceman was seriously injured while performing training parachute jumps at the Cheshnegirovo airport, the Defense Ministry said, adding that the soldier was from the Joint Special Operations Command. He was airlifted by a Mi-17 helicopter to St. George's Hospital in Plovdiv, where he was given specialized medical treatment for his injuries. He had suffered head trauma, as well as several broken limbs, the Ministry information service said, adding that he was a highly experienced Bulgarian paratrooper.
Russia declares another Bulgarian diplomat persona non grata
An employee of the Bulgarian embassy in Moscow was named persona non grata by the Russian Foreign Ministry, its Bulgarian counterpart announced. In March-April, the two countries reciprocally expelled several of their diplomats. Now Russia is reciprocating for the dismissed first secretary of the Russian embassy, who received espionage charges on 1 April. The Bulgarian MFA called the measure "an expected reciprocal act."