Concerns are growing within the German government that the European Union’s most impoverished member state, Bulgaria, could fall into the grips of Moscow’s influence. Internal reports, including those of the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, warn that Moscow may seek to expand its relations with the country in order to use Bulgaria as a political beachhead into the EU, and then use that power to divide the block.
Bulgaria is an easy target for the Kremlin because the country is almost entirely dependent on energy imports from Russia to survive. One third of its economic output is either directly or indirectly controlled by Moscow, the German reports indicate.
Bulgaria’s governing coalition — of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, which represents the country’s Turkish minority — is considered closely aligned with Moscow. It includes an illustrious group of former Communist Party members, intelligence service workers and Bulgarian oligarchs who do business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s minions.
One of the country’s most influential business magnates is banker Tzvetan Vassilev — whose KTB bank handles much of the money flowing from Moscow into state-controlled Bulgarian industry, particularly the energy sector.