site.btaMedia Review: September 28
NEW MILITARY AID TO UKRAINE
At a closed-door sitting on Wednesday, Bulgaria’s Parliament approved a resolution to provide additional military aid to Ukraine. The aid consists of defective 5V55R surface-to-air missiles owned by the Defence Ministry and rounds of 5.56x45 mm-calibre automatic-weapon ammunition which have been discarded by the Interior Ministry.
During the open part of the debate, the sponsors of the draft resolution on additional aid to Ukraine, CC-DB and GERB-UDF, stated that the missiles were defective and unusable. In contrast, Vazrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party made accusations of national betrayal and claimed that the 5V55R anti-aircraft missiles provided "the most advanced protection available to the Bulgarian armed forces".
Meanwhile, the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, quoted by TASS, has urged Bulgaria to reconsider its decision to provide Kiev with missiles for the S-300 air defense system as it violates international law that governs trade in military equipment. "This is thus another attempt by the Bulgarian leadership to flagrantly violate its international commitments in the area of arms control, despite repeated explanations from the Russian side. The transfer of weapons to the combat zone in Ukraine will inevitably lead to additional escalation of the conflict and casualties among innocent people," the agency stated.
On the morning show of Nova TV experts said that the new military aid is unusable by Bulgaria and that Bulgaria’s ammunition stocks should be renewed. „The missiles will either be repaired or used for spare parts. They can’t be used by Bulgaria because they are very old but will be useful for a country at war. There are special procedures to prove that ammunition is usable. All those people who are very concerned about providing these missiles to Ukraine actually put at risk the lives of Bulgarian servicemen who have to take care of them. Let me recall what happened in 2008 in Chelopechene where obsolete ammunition was stored. Bulgaria has to dispose of these missiles, which costs money. Unusable ammunition is not simply thrown away,” said Ivailo Ivanov.
„Ukraine has very serious repair capabilities, said Vassil Danov of Bulgaria’s Atlantic Council. The experts confirmed that Bulgaria gave Ukraine what it had asked for.
„The European Union has a fund which compensates countries which provide weapons and military equipment to Ukraine. The money will come later, as there is a long line of countries which have donated weaponry to Ukraine. So Bulgaria will be compensated,” Ivanov explained
Speaking on bTV, Dimiter Stoyanov, secretary to the President for security and defence, said: "Not a scrap of missile for the S-300 air defence system should be taken from the Bulgarian armed forces. We should have capabilities to defend our sky.
According to him, Parliament’s resolution is open, and this is not right. "This decision allows the government to provide up to 100% of the S-300 missiles. A defective missile has one or several parameters that are off from the operational documentation, but they are related to time. By noon today the missiles can become serviceable. They should have put down a concrete number,” added Stoyanov.
Earlier in the week, speaking on national television's morning show, Chief of Defence Emil Eftimov explained that Bulgaria does not intend to give its entire arsenal of C-300 missiles to Ukraine. "The unserviceable S-300 missiles that we are discussing to send to Ukraine are between 3% and 5% of our total available quantity, and the weapons we have provided so far do not affect the combat capability of our army," he noted.
Sega.bg writes that until recently according to an article in Wikipedia Bulgaria had ten S-300 launchers, but now it states that they are six.
Sega.bg writes that for the first time in years taxes and insurance contributions will be increased. Despite pledges to keep the tax and insurance burden, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev proposes a serious increase in taxes and insurance contributions for people working under part-time employment contracts as of 2024. The increase has been laid does in the Income Tax Act and the Code of Social Insurance, part of a legislation package put forward for public consultation.
Under one of the amendments people under non-labour contracts will no longer be able to deduct 25% of their taxable income in the form of expenses. With another provision insurance contributions due under these
contracts will cover all insurance risks unlike the current disability, illness, old age and death. This will increase contributions by 5%. These revisions are the first serious change to the insurance and tax regulations.
The Finance Ministry proposes that the scope of the definition “employment relations” is expanded to include relations which by their nature involve hiring labour without concluding an employment agreement.
The Finance Ministry will continue to authorize the National Revenue Agency to be able to discriminate when a job can qualify as full-time employment.
Dnevnik.bg writes that the National Assembly Committee on Economic Policy and Innovation proposed that the Lukoil Neftochim refinery in the seaside city of Burgas should gradually switch to processing petroleum of non-Russian origin by October 1, 2024. The committee adopted on second reading amendments to the Act on Control over the Implementation of the Restrictive Measures in View of Russia's Actions Destabilizing the Situation in Ukraine.
The idea is to make the abandonment of Russian crude-oil input less abrupt than suggested by the amendments approved by the full House on first reading. The National Assembly had resolved provisionally that Lukoil Neftochim should make the transition within 30 days of the adoption of the amendments.
According to the new proposal, the share of crude oil of Russian origin processed by the refinery should be no more than 80% until the end of 2023, no more than 75% until March 31, 2024, no more than 50% until June 30, 2024, and no more than 25% until September 30, 2024. In the meantime, Neftochim's fuel sales should not fall below the average level of the last five whole financial years.
From October 1, 2024 onward, Lukoil Neftochim will be expected to process only oil of non-Russian origin.
Economy Minister Bogdan Bogdanov said with shorter deadline for switching to non-Russian oil, there is a significant risk of speculative increase of fuel prices and fuel shortages.
In his first TV interview on Bulgarian National Television GERB mayoral candidate Anton Hekimyan said that if he does not win the elections, he will be a municipal councillor for 4 years. He said that he would work for the capital in any form and that is why he is leading the party's ticket. He criticized the candidate of Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria Vasil Terziev for not being part of the municipal list of the coalition.
The former director of the news in bTV explained that the proposal to be GERB's mayoral candidate came from the leader of the party Boyko Borisov, with whom he first spoke on the phone and found out what the goal was. However, he did not give details on what exactly the goals were set for him. He stressed that his relations with Borissov, both as a journalist and now, were entirely professional.
"I asked for all the details - what the team would be like, what my commitments would be. I have tried to inform myself before making my decision, which is not emotional, but something I wanted," Hekimyan said.
He said entering politics was something he believed would happen at some point in his professional career because he understood from his work that institutions can change people's lives for the better.
He clarified that in the last 2-3 years he was one of the people who believed that something would change in the country. However, he saw that this had not happened. "Some people pulled the handbrake on Bulgaria and stopped money for Sofia," Hekimian added.
He also commented on a remark of socialist leader Kornelia Ninova that he was "GERB’s mole" on television.
"This is an insulting word not only for my colleagues, but also for the entire journalistic guild. Every single colleague from bTV can confirm that I worked professionally. I did not join to be the star of the political show. I do it because I feel like it," Hekimian added and described as untrue the allegations that journalists at the TV station were following party orders.
He added that Sofia's current mayor, Yordanka Fandakova, has done a successful job. He defined his political preferences as centre-right. He pointed to the maintenance of standards as his goal.
Surprises are possible in Sofia, no one should be underestimated, political scientist Petar Cholakov said in a Bulgarian National Radio interview.
According to him, attempts to predict who will take Sofia are incorrect.
"As the local elections approach, it was clear that the contradictions and frictions within the ruling coalition would intensify and there would be a fierce battle." Perhaps for some of the voters of the formations that nominated both Vasil Terziev and Anton Hekimyan, it was not love at first sight, he said, adding that there was tension with both candidates. This is something that could sway both camps and could give the edge to a third candidate, the political analyst said. He said the campaign would be of great importance to both:
"Both Terziev and Hekimyan They are political infants. Now they are just breaking through politically. They have two white sheets in front of them and they are about to write their own political biographies. They can spell them out in golden letters, it could also turn out to be something quite unpleasant for them. That spelling out will happen in the course of the thread." According to him, if the two of them get into a debate on some national television, that debate poses a big risk. Everything could be won or lost in a matter of seconds, adding that it would be a matter of nerves. However, he believes that Terziev and Hekimian should still enter such a debate because they are unknown to the voters. "They owe it to the public and the voters," Cholakov was adamant.