AP

Bulgaria’s ex-energy chief charged over Russian gas cutoff

Feb 7, 2023, 8:28 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2023, 10:38 am

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian prosecutors on Wednesday charged a former energy minister in the previous, pro-Western government with mismanagement that allegedly caused losses of 45 million euros ($48 million) to the country’s major state-run gas operator.

Alexander Nikolov was in office when Russia’s Gazprom cut off deliveries to Bulgaria after the country, together with others, refused to start paying for deliveries in Russian currency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Sofia prosecution office said in a statement that Nikolov and two other energy officials had threatened the operation of the state gas company Bulgargaz concerning public gas supplies in the country.

The office filed charges of intentional mismanagement against the three officials for causing financial damages to the state company. It didn’t provide details.

Nikolov, who was energy minister between Dec. 2021 and Aug. 2022, denied any wrongdoing and told reporters that “the charges boil down to Bulgaria’s decision not to give in to the extortion by Gazprom and Russia”.

One of the investigators, Biserka Stoyanova, said the focus of their efforts has been Bulgaria’s reaction to the proposed new payment scheme for the long-term contract with Gazprom.

Stoyanova told reporters that in addition to causing financial damages to Bulgargaz in April and May 2022, the alleged mismanagement had “put at risk the state company’s remit to act as a public supplier of gas, specifically its duty to ensure secure and uninterrupted deliveries.”

Russia halted natural gas deliveries in April 2022 after the previous government in Sofia refused Gazprom’s demand to pay in rubles. That prompted then-Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to claim that Moscow had used “hybrid war” tactics to bring down his government.

Bulgaria, which ahead of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine was almost fully dependent on Russian gas, has already secured alternative gas supplies from non-Russian sources.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

1 day ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

2 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

2 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

3 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

4 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

5 days ago

Bulgaria’s ex-energy chief charged over Russian gas cutoff