site.btaMedia Review: June 1
There will be a Denkov-Gabriel cabinet, 24 Chasa predicts in its main story, headlined "Heat Coming from Geshev and Radev Melts Ice between GERB and CC". The paper reports that a day after GERB-UDF Prime Minister-designate Mariya Gabriel explained that their "frozen" communication with Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) means "lack of sunshine", although it is not exactly an "ice age", she and CC-DB Prime Minister-designate Nikolay Denkov came together in the office of National Assembly Chair Rossen Zhelyazkov on Wednesday and talked there for three hours.
Already on Tuesday, it became clear that despite the freezing of the negotiations on the part of GERB over a leaked recording of a controversial CC meeting, the chances of forming a cabinet with a prime-ministerial post rotating between Gabriel and Denkov were good again, the daily says. The possibility was strengthened by President Rumen Radev, who said on Monday that the second exploratory mandate for forming a government, held by CC-DB, was discredited and should remain unfulfilled.
According to unofficial information after Wednesday's talks, even Asen Vassilev's nomination as Minister of Finance has been renegotiated, the story goes. This is contrary to rumours that Vassilev may be removed from the draft of the cabinet lineup on GERB's insistence and as a concession suggested by Denkov.
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A government under the CC-DB mandate would be doomed to total failure, Trud predicts in its main story, based on comments by "experienced MPs of GERB-UDF". The sources also said that Nikolay Denkov's idea about politically unaffiliated cabinet ministers is unfeasible because the ministers will be implementing a political programme. The daily goes on to quote MPs of CC-DB as saying that it is important for Bulgaria to have a regular government, but it should not come at all costs.
Political scientist Tsvetanka Andreeva writes in the paper that, paradoxically, GERB are the ones who can rescue CC. "The absurd situation will unite the parties as they try to form a government," Andreeva says. She expects the scandal about CC to make the party more flexible, "not so much because they seek to defend their individual members as because they want to secure their existence as a political party".
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After the recording of the CC meeting was leaked, Trud approached the Sofia embassies of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council for comment on an allegation in the recording that the future leaders of Bulgaria's special services have been coordinated with the embassies. The paper received the following answers from the embassies:
UNITED STATES: The US Embassy has not taken part in such consultations. The United States respects Bulgaria's sovereignty. UNITED KINGDOM: This is not true. Any decisions about the lineup of the future government are up to Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Parliament. RUSSIA: The Embassy of Russia in Bulgaria does not hold consultations with any political parties on any matter concerning the functioning of the Bulgarian state. Our principled position is to refrain from intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. CHINA: China has always insisted on developing its relations with other countries based on the principles of mutual respect and noninterference in the internal affairs of the other country. We have never received such enquiries. FRANCE: A foreign embassy is not supposed to comment on matters of Bulgaria's domestic politics.
According to the paper, the reactions of the five embassies exposed "the lies and manipulations" of CC co-leaders Kiril Petkov and Asen Vassilev which undermined Bulgaria's national security.
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In connection with street protests against President Rumen Radev on Wednesday, SegaBG.com recalls that Russian secret service agent Leonid Reshetnikov made very accurate predictions back in 2016 about what Radev would be like as president. In an interview for TV+ on November 24, 2016, Reshetnikov said Radev could play a remarkable role by pushing Bulgaria to make "its own choice" and follow a path outside NATO and the EU.
Seven years on, it is clear that the prediction was not unfounded, the website comments. People gathered outside the windows of the incumbent President on Wednesday to protest against his policy, which is taking Bulgaria away from the EU and NATO and making it a satellite of the Kremlin again.
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Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova urged GERB leader Boyko Borissov to give up his immunity as an MP to be investigated in a money laundering case known as Barcelonagate. "If he says he is innocent, he should prove it in a transparent court trial. If he does not give up his immunity, it will mean he is a coward evading justice," Ninova said, as quoted in the main story in Duma. The daily also carries Borissov's reasoning that, for two years, he was not immune from criminal prosecution, and now he is, but he will certainly not give up his immunity.
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The procedure for removing the prosecutor general was discussed by lawyers Rossen Dimitrov and Emil Georgiev of the Justice for All Initiative on the morning talk show of BNT1, the main channel of Bulgarian National Television. According to Georgiev, one outstanding question is the number of votes in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) necessary to dismiss the prosecutor general. Some time ago, the 25-member SJC decided that 13 votes should be enough, but the decision has not yet entered into effect, so the effective rule is a minimum of 17 votes. Dimitrov noted that the 13-vote rule will apply only to the prosecutor general, and not to the presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court, for whom the required minimum will remain at 17 votes. Dimitrov said such a difference runs counter to the Constitution.
"Is a Good Move Possible about Belene Nuclear Power Project?" caps an analysis on MediaPool.bg. The author, Vladislava Peeva, writes that the Belene nuclear power plant is a project that refuses to die. Buried, revived, halted, resuscitated, terminated, renewed, frozen... It has been on and off for nearly 40 years, with BGN 3 billion spent in the latest episode of the saga alone. The investments have left BGN 2.5 billion in available assets, including equipment, according to caretaker Minister of Energy Rossen Hristov, as quoted in the story. A few million leva more is now to be paid to Electricite de France (EDF) for an analysis which will assess the feasibility of using Western technology to finish the Russian project or selling the available equipment.
Nuclear experts have commented that EDF could very well propose a technological solution concerning the use of the Russian equipment, but estimates show that the available installations represent only about one-tenth of what is necessary for a functioning nuclear power plant. This does not take into account the costs of the substations and cables needed to connect the plant to the power grid.
The crux of the matter is the need to replace the Russian turbine, which has been designed but not built yet. The use of a different turbine, which can be made in France, for example, requires redesigning the project which has been submitted to Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulatory Agency for licensing. Reworking the project design means more expenses. Back in 2018, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences estimated that the completion of the Belene project would cost EUR 9 billion, but experts put the costs at double that amount. Now, five years later, the completion of the project will inevitably cost even more, particularly after inflation soared in 2022, the analysis says.
Alternatively, the equipment can be sold to Ukraine. The only possibility to use the Belene reactors in Ukraine is to install them at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant. What has been built so far at Khmelnytskyi, however, is incompatible with the Belene equipment, meaning that the Ukrainian project would also need to be redesigned. In addition, it is far more likely to have American reactors at Khmelnytskyi than Russian reactors from Belene, according to the analysis.
The bad news for Bulgaria is that, currently, there is no other project in the world like Belene which could take the equipment.
The most realistic solution, according to the author, is for the National Electric Company (NEK) to sell the Belene steam generators to Bulgaria's only operational nuclear power plant, at Kozloduy. According to knowledgeable sources, the steam generators make up about 50% of the equipment available for Belene and are perfectly suitable to replace Kozloduy's present generators. Selling the rest of the equipment seems impossible. The Belene site should be cleared up and used for other investment purposes, the author concludes.
On the eve of the 18th World Meeting of Bulgarian Media, hosted by BTA, the national news agency's Director General Kiril Valchev tells 24 Chasa that the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak was chosen as the venue because its famous Rose Festival is having its 120th edition. Besides, the choice of the venue marks the revival of a tradition. Up until 1992, there was an international journalists' meeting every year around the time of the Rose Festival. According to Valchev, Bulgaria is the right country to host the World Meetings of Bulgarian Media, although most of them so far have been held in foreign countries with large Bulgarian communities.
Concerning the topics to be discussed at the Kazanlak meeting, Valchev singles out the right to choose. He says that our free world should not become the same as the kind of society it renounces. He argues: "There are countries which restrict the internet, close websites, television channels, radio stations and print publications, they used to burn them. But we uphold the freedom to choose, the freedom of being able to read opinions, learn about positions which we may not agree with. The great responsibility of the media is, after presenting the facts as they are - including the lies, which are a fact as well - to guide the audience through all that, rather than becoming a propaganda tool."