'How Bulgarian Political Elite Betrayed Russia'
In an analysis entitled "How Bulgarian Political Elite Betrayed Russia" the Russian think tank Centre for Political Analysis claims that Bulgarian oligarch groups deny access to political life of pro-Russian parties and circles.
"The ordinary citizens continue to sympathise with Russia, but due to the power of oligarchic clans, they cannot politically realise their sympathies," writes the think tank, which is part of the Russian TASS wire service.
The publication notes the recent diplomatic controversy between Bulgaria and Russia on Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev's interview for Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which he called Russia “an aggressive nationalist state”.
According to the analysis, GERB's victory at the early elections held on October 5, were not “optimistic for the perspectives on Bulgarian-Russian relations”. It also quotes the head of Lenta.ru's analytical service Maksim Zharov that one of the reasons for the early elections in Bulgaria was “the refusal of the previous government to buckle under EU pressure regarding the South Stream pipeline.”
In Zharov's words, Bulgaria was not much different than Serbia in its sentiments towards Russia, where there were “plenty of public movements which co-operate with Russia and political parties with pro-Russian orientation”, but unlike Serbia, “Bulgaria is controlled by oligarch clans with EU orientation”.
According to Zharov, the political system in Bulgaria was organised in such a way that it was “disregarding the interests of the citizens who sympathise with Russia.”
Zharov, however, is convinced that the situation can be remedied. "Bulgarians still have very good attitutde towards Russia," he claims. "But we must be more proactive in our presence in this country, to implement the technologies of "soft power" and influence Bulgaria's political life."
Russian political scientist Boris Shmelyov is quoted in the analysis complaining that Bulgaria was much more obliged to Russia because of the USSR, than Serbia, but chose the West, unlike Serbia.
"Back in the day some Bulgarian politicians theoretised that Bulgaria can not be an ally of Russia, but must not be its enemy," Shmelyov said. "But the current Bulgarian government and the political elite, unfortunately, do not apply this principle."
Publicist Yakov Shustov, who lives in Bulgaria's coast city of Varna claims the Bulgarian pepople traditionally loves the Russians, even more so because of the "generosity of Russian tourists."
According to Shustov, there was a certain hostility towards Russia agains the ruling class, but it was a "cliche fed by Western propaganda from the Cold War era".
As an example of the positive attitude of Bulgarians toward Russians, Shustov tells how he gave to a Bulgarian friend of his a badge of Russia's ruling party "Unified Russia" and now he wears it proudly like an order.
The publication also notes that in Bulgaria were sold t-shirts with Vladimir Putin's face.
"I have never faced negative attitude towards Russians – quite the contrary, when the Bulgarians find out I am Russian and not Ukrainian, they become really friendly, however understandably not very enthusiastic," Shustov said.
He also notes that the public sentiment in Bulgaria towards the South Stream pipeline was complicated, because "people think that it will be build by foreign companies, mostly from the EU, and the Bulgarians will be set aside. There is a very strong negative sentiment towards the EU and its potential participation in South Stream makes the project less attractive."
According to Shustov, as a whole Bulgarians don't like their politicians and the previous government, considered by many as pro-Russian, made many mistakes and they soured the Bulgarian-Russian relations.
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