Day in 3 news: EU fears further gas cuts from Russia, Bulgarian cyber security under threat, Heating and electricity prices soar
Friday started with discussions about EU countries' payments to Gazprom. Several EU states are yet to make statements on how to proceed. As part of the EU's financial sanctions, countries are not permitted to pay in rubles, and have been requested not to bow to Gazprom's new rules. So far, however, those countries that have declined to pay in rubles have had their natural gas supplies cut by Moscow.
Tension rises as natural gas talks with Gazprom continue
Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has stated that Bulgaria does not fear an energy crisis. Meanwhile, Greece, whose deadline to make payments to Russia's Gazprom is today, May 20, is expected not to pay in rubles. Several weeks ago, Russia officially declared that Bulgaria's gas supplies had been cut since payment was not made in rubles.
Bulgaria and Poland were the first EU countries to fall victim to Russian energy blackmail. Concerns have grown that the EU directive not to pay in rubles is increasingly being flouted because Alexander Novak, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, had earlier said that "of 54 large, medium and small companies that have an agreement with Gazprom Export, half have decided to open an account in rubles".
Bulgarian cybersecurity is in jeopardy
"Misinformation is a systemic problem for Bulgaria, as well as for other Eastern European countries," Minister of Electronic Governing Bozhidar Bojanov has said, referring to the propaganda war about the war in Ukraine. He stressed that the most probable source of such disinformation campaigns is indeed the Russian government.
Bojanov was in Brussels this week for a working meeting with EU commissioners and experts. He requested that the European Commission intervene to tell Facebook that there should be an EU framework to try to control trolls on social media. Talk of mandatory electronic identification - whereby those who post have to show some kind of ID - has flourished as fears grow about cybersecurity against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.
Heating and electricity bills in Bulgaria could increase drastically
Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov stated that heating and electricity prices will most likely spike from July. He added that everything has been done to keep prices contained and businesses compensated. The Minister also reported on the pressure on energy companies- which has played a role in the final prices. The estimated prices will be announced by the energy regulator.
"When the price of natural gas has risen 5,6 times, an increase of several tens of percent is not unexpected, no matter how severe that may sound," he said. He added that the government would look for ways to compensate households by the time of the next heating season.