A state-funded think tank in Russia has alleged that Maidan-style protests will be staged "in the center of Sofia" before Bulgarian President-elect Rumen Radev takes up the office on Sunday.
In a piece published by RIA Novosti agency on the day Radev was sworn in, Igor Pshenichnikov, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies' advisor to the director, warns "mass demonstrations" will be held on Saturday, January 21, that will aim at destabilizing Bulgaria to the benefit of certain parties.
The goal will be to shift the balance against Radev and Russia, according to the advisor at the RISS, an institute founded by the country's President.
The article's title is "Who Is Preparing a Maidan in Bulgaria [RU]", in an apparent reference to the revolution in Ukraine which Russia sees as a coup backed by the United States.
Cited sources include "information on the Bulgarian Internet". The author suggests NGOs funded by the United States are behind the planned demonstrations. Which the "non-governmental organizations" are is "unknown," but "instructions" were supposedly submitted to them, with participants told to chant against President Radev and Russia, according to the text.
Nancy Schiller, America for Bulgaria's Interim Director, is mentioned and is quoted as saying: "we we will not be silent anymore". (Schiller's statement, on Tuesday, was made in a reference to a new policy of the foundation giving more publicity to its success).
Pshenichnikov cites a publication in several Bulgarian media outlets that alleges America for Bulgaria paid Bulgaria's public TV broadcaster BNT and one of the biggest private ones, bTV, tens of thousands of USD to cover the US presidential election "in the right way, i.e. in favour of Clinton" (The original texts, however, only contain the journalists' conclusion that coverage was biased).
A link is provided to a website called "Bgpravda" using the Blogspot platform, which cites its own sources who say "mass protests" are in preparation. Comments below the news report are dominated by users who lash out at the US, America for Bulgaria, and the center-right GERB party out outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Allegedly, participants in the rally will have to be aged under 40 and will get EUR 30 per day.
Outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev, who speaks critically of the Russian leadership, is mentioned in opposition to Radev, whose calls for sanctions on Russia to be lifted and whose comment that Crimea is "de facto Russian" are also cited.
Pshenichnikov argues Radev's victory signals "Bulgarians back rapprochement with Russia" and their attitudes do not match "the Russophobic course of the outgoing authorities."
The name of George Soros is also involved in the article (the respective section is called "Soros again"), with the billionaire allegedly investing money into Balkan-based NGOs, according to another Bulgarian news website (Blic) that has often been used in propaganda warfare between different political and economic groups in Bulgaria.
The RISS, whose former leader (a former Russian intelligence officer stationed in Bulgaria) was recently involved in a scandal with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has a new director as of January 04, namely former Prime Minister and intelligence head Mikhail Fradkov.
The change followed a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to appoint former lower house of Parliament's speaker Sergey Naryshkin as head of the foreign intelligence service (SVR), effectively prompting the need to find a new post for Fradkov (the initial idea was to make him head of the state railway company)
Fradkov's predecessor at the RISS, Reshetnikov, had maintained Radev's nomination by the socialists in Bulgaria - known for their ties to Russian officials - had been coordinated with him. (Subsequently, the BSP decided not to nominate Radev, but simply to endorse him.)
After Radev's speech, BSP lawmaker Zhelyo Boychev told the Bulgarian National Television there would certainly be attempts at staging a "Maidan in Bulgaria".
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