Sofia, July 3 (BTA)
The cover story in Capital Weekly is about the Sofia waste treatment plant. Built on 300 million leva investment, the plant does not work as planned: it generates twice the amount of waste for depositing it should, and the refuse-derived fuel it produces is three times less than the target amount and of poor quality. At the same time, over 150,000 t of waste continues to be deposited in landfill around the capital each year. The story is entitled “Sofia’s Dirty Secret”.
Duma leads with a story about a member of the European Parliament calling for a Europol probe of the threats of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov against Bulgarian MEP Elena Yoncheva. The threats could be heard in a phone call recording in which a speaker who sounds exactly like the Borissov, threatens to “do his best to burn” Yoncheva. The authenticity of the recording has not been verified. The call for a Europol probe came from Iratxe Garcia of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, who says there is something profoundly wrong when Borissov does not demand an expert analysis of the recording.
The front-page story of Standard News says that hotels on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast are trying to bring back Bulgarian tourists by slashing their rates, some as much as 50 per cent. They took this step after it became clear that the tourists from Russia and the UK are not coming in July as these countries were left out of a EU list of non-EU countries whose citizens will be allowed to travel to the EU.
Troud leads with a story saying that from July 6, Bulgarians can cross into Greece by land only via the Kulata – Promachonas crossing. Until then one can enter Greece from Bulgaria by way of three other border crossings as well: Makaza, Kapitan Petko Voyvoda and Ivaylovgrad. The caption of a photo that goes with this story reports of “hell” at Kulata on Thursday morning when the line of cars and trucks waiting to cross into Greece was 15 km long.
24 Chassa writes on its front page that Greece only allows three passengers and the driver in one car crossing their border.
According to Standard News, the difficult trip to Greece could make some Bulgarians reconsider their summer holiday plans for Greece and they could go to the Black Sea instead.
The front-page story in 24 Chassa says that after being long the second least affected European country in the coronavirus pandemic, Bulgaria has slumped to the 23 place. This emerges in an analysis by social analyst Tsvetozar Tomov, who looked at the number of infections per 1 million population in April, May and June.
Douma reports that 24 MPs were fined for not wearing a mask in Parliament.
It also reports of flagrant violation of all coronavirus rules at the final match for the Bulgaria cup between FC CSKA Sofia and Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Wednesday. There were over 10,000 on the stands, the vast majority of them not wearing any face covering even though masks were handed out at the entrances of the stadium, and not social distancing.
In a Standard News interview, the director of Sofia’s Pirogov Emergency Hospital, Dr Assen Baltov, says that 80 per cent of infected people have mild to no symptoms and fewer patients now need intensive care; that Bulgaria is currently at the second peak of the first wave of the pandemic; that self-discipline and self-control are mandatory. He is optimistic that next week may see the curve of infections starting to go down.
Standard News reports on its front page that First Investment Bank (Fibank) successfully raised its capital by 195 million leva. The new shareholders are the Bulgarian Development Bank (18.35 per cent) and Valea Foundation (7.87 per cent).
FIBank was one of two banks where a capital shortfall was identified last year by the European Central Bank during an asset quality review of five Bulgarian banks. The other bank was Investbank but it was faster to address that by a capital increase. The FIBank capital raise removes the last obstacle for Bulgaria joining ERM II.
24 Chassa says the Czech investor in FIBank is Karel Komarek.
On several occasions in its new issue Capital Weekly writes about Czech investments in Bulgaria. “For one reason or another, the Czech companies at the moment seem to be the most ‘Western’ investors willing to put fresh money in Bulgaria,” the paper says. It paper also mentions the Czech investor who participated in the capital increase of FIBank and has a story about a Czech investment of 500,000 euro for a less-than-5-per cent share in the Bulgarian online supermarket eBag.
Douma and Troud, among other papers, report the revoking of the licence of a Maltese bank with a Bulgarian co-owner. A money laundering probe is against Satabank and all accounts in it have been frozen.
Standard News writes that Plovdiv Airport will become a Balkan hub to service cargo flights carrying foods in the region. It was announced by Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov during a discussion on measures to offset the impact of the pandemic, which was held in the southern city of Plovdiv on Wednesday.
Troud has a two-page interview with Greek Ambassador Dimitrios Chronopoulos where the focus is on two questions: Bulgaria-Greece relations, especially in tourism and in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, and Greece’s relations with Turkey. He says that his country has perfect cooperation with Bulgaria in the area of tourism. Of Turkey, he says that it is an important neighbour of his country and the two share strategic interests in tourism and a significant commercial exchange – but Ankara does not behave as a good neighbour and a partner, or as a country which wants to be strategically, politically and economically connected with the EU, and it also violates the rules of the international community.
Sega pairs up in one commentary Bulgaria’s Boyko Borissov and Kosovo’s Hashim Thaci: “Balkan leaders with shady past have reasons to fear for their political survival after signals that they may lose their European support. The Kosovo President will serve as a test on how far the European politicians are willing to end friendships which put to question their resolve to stand up for rule of law,” author Svetoslav Terziev says.
24 Chassa reports that the United Patriots are moving legislative changes to curtail the powers of the Civil Society Development Council and scrap the obligation of the government to finance NGO projects.
Sega has a two-page story about the Libyan oil tanker Badr, which was impounded by Bulgaria in 2017 based on a false mortgage, and was released the next year after a court decision and the interference of the Prime Minister – but not before Libya took the matter to the UN. Badr is mentioned in text messages exchanged between businessman Plamen Bobokov and Presidential Secretary Plamen Ouzounov, which were recently made public by the prosecution service as a sample of evidence it had found in a trade-in-influence probe. The subheading of the Sega story says that while prosecutors eagerly delved into the Ouzounov-Bobokov communucation, they are dragging their feet over the investigation of the illegal change of ownership of Badr.
Most papers cover profusely the latest installments of Bobokov’s chats released by the prosecution service, this time with President Rumen Radev. Since only parts of an exchange of text messages was released by prosecutors, Radev urged them to make public the entire chat.
Monitor puts in one package – and on its front page – Bobokov, embattled gambling mogul Vassil Bojkov, and the owner of the failed Corpbank, Tsvetan Vassilev, and quotes Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev as saying that the periodicals owned by Ivo Prokopiev (which is Capital and dnevnik.bg), “idolize Bojkov”.
Capital Weekly has a set of stories about the acquittal last Sunday of its founder and publisher Ivo Prokopiev and two former ministers in Boyko Borissov’s first cabinet, Simeon Djankov (finance) and Traicho Traikov (economy) in a trial for the privatization of a 33 per cent State-owned minority stake in what is now the EVN electricity distribution company.
The defendants were charged with causing the Exchequer detriment through the underpriced sale in May-June 2011 of a 33 per cent residual State-owned minority shareholding in the EVN electricity distribution company. The share sale was handled by Prokopiev’s Bulbrokers firm, which appraised the block and acted as an intermediary for both the seller (the Privatization Agency) and the buyer (EVN Austria).
The story about the trial is entitled “Noone Is Guilty Because there Is No Crime” with a subheading saying that the prosecution office will try to continue this politically motivated trial against Prokopiev, Djankov and Traikov. There is another story about the international reaction to the trial and another one with Prokopiev’s final statement to the court.
In a full-page interview in Telegraf, GERB deputy floor leader Krassimir Tsipov says that he sees “an alliance of oligarchs trying to undermine stability in the State”. Tsipov is asked to comment the communication between Bobokov and the Presidential Secretary that the prosecution service has made public and the existence of “a parallel State”, and is asked how politicians could end that, and Tsipov answers: “By adopting adequate legislation and enforcing it, to show Bulgarian people that everybody is equal before the law”.