By far the most important news of the day was the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats from Bulgaria. The news shook the political scene and caught President Rumen Radev and the political parties on the hop.
Mass expulsions put Sofia-Moscow relations on new low
Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has announced that Bulgaria will expel 70 Russian diplomats. The Foreign Ministry announced that Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova had been handed a note containing a list of the names of those "who should leave the country by midnight on July 3, 2022." In addition, the Russian Consulate General in Ruse has been temporarily closed, and Bulgaria will temporarily close its consulate in Ekaterinburg.
The expulsions and closures mark an unprecedented low point in bilateral relations against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the diplomatic contingent in both countries "should be maintained with up to 48 individuals" .Today's decision means shrinking its staff by nearly two-thirds with, of course, the inevitable likelihood of a tit for tat retaliation by Moscow.
No excise on LPG and methane
During the ongoing budget revision vote in the parliament, MPs agreed to remove the excise tax on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and methane for cars by June 30, 2025. These are some of the anti-crisis measures that the government is lining up to contain national fuel price increases.
MPs also adopted another measure forcing licensed warehouse keepers to submit to customs by 7pm every day information about their free storage capacity. The Customs Agency must publish this information on its website by 9am the following day. Supposedly, this will increase competition in the fuel market and will affect prices.
The excise tax on energy products used for producing heat and electricity is also abolished as well as the excise tax for electricity produced by renewables.
No tax on flour
The budget revision today also decided to vote for 0% tax on flour. The proposal was made by Slavi Trifonov's party TSP and also included a 9% tax on the hospitality service which was later dismissed by MP's.
The 0% tax on flour was widely heralded as one of the main measures to help low-income households. However, the debate produced diverging views, with many pointing out that it will not decrease significantly the price of bread.