The rift between the Russian ambassador and Bulgarian PM Kiril Petkov is intensifying, putting even greater strain on diplomatic relations between both countries. In the meantime, Bulgaria could have a new PM very soon.
Electricity and central heating prices go up
The Energy regulator CEWR has published a fixed decision regarding domestic tariffs for electricity and central heating. Since Bulgarian household prices are state-regulated, the prices are based on decisions made by 1st of July every year and effectively run until July the following year. Businesses and enterprises are not included in this decision since they operate on the free market.
Electricity prices will rise by roughly 3% while central heating will increase by 39%. While the hefty increase in central heating prices was expected due to high natural gas prices, it is significant that electricity prices for Bulgarian households will remain virtually static - even though the electricity index is also hit by inflation.
Assen Vassilev is a new favorite for PM
Assen Vassilev, finance minister in the resigned coalition government, is the new frontrunner for the position of Bulgarian prime minister. This was announced in a brief statement by current PM Kiril Petkov who was forced to resign after the four-party coalition crumbled. Petkov and Vassilev are co-founders of the biggest parliamentary party We Continue the Change (WCC).
The decision to choose Vassilev, before the new government talks begin, was made by WCC after both BSP and TSP withdrew their support for Petkov.
Russia and Bulgaria's diplomatic relations in jeopardy"If he (Kiril Petkov) had changed his rhetoric and not talked the way he does, I think he would have had a very long political life". This was stated by Eleonora Mitrofanova, Ambassador of Russia in Sofia, in an interview for the national television, speaking about the now resigned Bulgarian Prime Minister.
Some analysts have interpreted this as a declaration from Moscow that had he behaved favorably towards the Kremlin, he could have remained as PM for a long time. It could also be interpreted as a warning to all Bulgarian politicians to beware of their stance towards Russia - following yesterday's decision to expel a record 70 Russian diplomats.
Mitrofanova set a deadline for the expulsion to be rescinded before Moscow undertakes serious retaliatory measures. But the Bulgarian parliament decided to offer Petkov its wholehearted support.