Does Bulgaria’s new President consider Crimea Russian?

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev 


Bulgaria’s new President Rumen Radev took office on 22 January 2017. However, his political position remains controversial to this day. On the one hand, before his electoral success in November 2016, Radev used to single out good relations with Russia as his priority. He criticized the West’s standpoint on Ukraine’s crisis, challenged Western sanctions on Russia, and didn’t seem to notice any kind of threat in Russian hybrid wars.

During one of his first interviews after the successful runoff, Rumen Radev rejected allegations of being pro-Russian orientated by saying:

“I am a NATO General, I am the first Bulgarian who has completed the US Air-Force Academy’s training course and I will defend our (Bulgaria’s) Euro-Atlantic membership by even more active means than I am doing so today.”

Nevertheless, Bulgarian experts don’t express any particular trust to his words.

“Radev’s candidature was nominated to the election as a result of a joint game played by the larger part of Bulgaria’s new political elite, topped by the then Prime-Minister Boyko Borissov’s government and main parliamentarian parties of Socialists and Nationalists, in order to remove the then incumbent pro-Western president Rossen Plevneliev. The thing is that all key positions in our country at the moment, including the one of Borissov, are in one way or another occupied by people linked to former Bulgaria’s Communist party and the KDS, which is the Bulgarian equivalent to the Russian KGB. As a result, the Borissov-orchestrated efforts led to nominating two key pro-Russian candidates – one from his ruling party and one from the Socialists, Radev, who was the final winner.  And I am convinced that it was made upon a demand by Russian President Vladimir Putin,”

Bulgarian political commentator Georgiy Dimitrov told Krym.Realii.

According to the analyst, Bulgaria is one of the Kremlin’s important priorities.

 “Russia’s government more than once expressed its discontent at NATO’s initiatives in the Black Sea last year to which Borissov immediately responded that Bulgaria’s cooperation with USA and NATO ‘has its limits’ and that it was important to defend Russia from a possible NATO flotilla organized in the Black sea,” Dimitrov added.

The expert points out also that Kremlin, obviously, is happy to see Radev elected as President, evident from the positive coverage in the Russian media. Notably, the first foreign structure to meet Radev was the Russian institute of strategic studies (RISS), part of the Russian President administration (earlier RISS was within the framework of Russia’s foreign intelligence, the FSB), which was also seen in their approach to Milorad Dodik, the President of Serbia. Even more, according to a RISS former employee, the institute has lobbied for the annexation of Crimea and war in Donbas already in 2009.

 “Last year, RISS’ director advised Borissov and Radev to ‘scrape away’ the pro-Western ‘dirt’ from Bulgarian political life. After the election, the institute’s director sounded even more demanding, declaring that ‘Russia should intervene in Bulgaria in order to help cleanse it of its pro-Western elite,’ and that ‘Bulgaria is a part of Eurasia.’ Borissov kept up relations with other Russian special services. For instance, in 2006 he boasted that he has been the only foreign guest of FSB to Moscow on occasion of its ‘Vympel’ spetsnaz anniversary celebration. Recently, he pointed out that the Soviet KGB was an ‘organization that many foreign specialists may learn much from,’ and that the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has been ‘world’s greatest diplomat’,” shares the Bulgarian commentator.

Georgiy Dimitrov is of the view that during the past two years Radev, as Bulgaria’s Airforce commander, has his share in delaying rearmament of Air Forces by western-produced aircraft.

“He has also insisted that Bulgaria’s several MiG-29 Russian-made fighters’ engines repair works should be carried out at the producer’s industry plants instead of a NATO-allied country like Poland. Many consider Radev to be well connected to Russia’s military industry. At least three last Airforce commanders have connected their careers to the Socialist party after retiring. At their new positions, political or otherwise, they have maintained close positions with Moscow on matters relating to Bulgarian Armed forces, armament or political issues,” says Dimitrov.

Президент Болгарии Румен Радев

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev

According to him, Radev’s team raises serious questions as well.

 “One of its members, a former military general and a former Vice-President of the country, was renown with his strong opposition against Bulgaria’s application for membership in NATO. Another member of the team was linked to one of the Socialist party’s events that set the flag of the EU on fire in 2014 and cut the flags of EU and NATO to pieces in 2016. Yet another member, a journalist at a Russian oligarch-owned Bulgarian TV canal, was included by the government of Ukraine in its 2015 ban list of foreigners as ‘threat to its national interests, national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity’,” the expert notes.

Radev has been well-known for his position that sanctions on Russia must be removed and that the illegally annexed Crimea has in fact become a Russian territory. Even more, according to Radev, Ukraine needs to play carefully with Russia, otherwise it risks losing rest of its eastern territories to Russia as well.

“On the day after his first successful round of the elections, he reiterated his position that ‘Russian colors flying over Crimea are an (undisputable) fact – should we close our eyes (before it)?’. Five days later Russian media announced that the government of Borissov signed a contract with the Russian MiG producer to purchase 10 engines for its fighters. NATO has for years called Bulgarian government to acquire Western-produced jets in order to end its dependency and improve interoperability with the allies however government has constantly found excuses,”  Georgiy Dimitrov clarifies.

Summing up, the Bulgarian experts are wary over the new President’s priorities. Concerns exist that, regardless of positioning himself as a “NATO general,” Radev would pursue a pro-Kremlin politics including on issues such as Crimea and Ukraine.


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Edited by: Alya Shandra


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  1. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Nothing to do with Ukroland and its disappearance. Serbian MSM: Russia accepted Serbia into the Eurasian union, whose axis form Russia and China. Get ur translators ready.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Pity Serbia isn’t in the Eurasian Union, and intends to pursue closer ties with the EU. Still, if it can do both, then good luck to it.

      Axis Russsia and China – is this like the mythical alliance between Russia and China, contained in a mythical Xinhua article which you can somehow never find the link to?

      And disappearance of Ukraine – is that why Russia holds about 7% of Ukrainian territory and has never been able to take any more, for the last two years?


      1. Avatar туфтуф says:

        Dnt shoot the messenger. I included the link to the Serbian news outlet and gave a short explanation. Am fluent in Serbian.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Good, then you agree with me.

          1. Avatar туфтуф says:

            But of course.

  2. Avatar Alex George says:

    This needs to be put in context – Bulgaria used to be Moscow’s strongest ally in eastern Europe.

    If Radev is pro-Moscow, he has to keep it well hidden, because most of his people are not.

    It is a measure of how far Moscow’s influence has fallen that it is reduced to begging for whatever scraps of recognition the members of the old Nomenklatura in post-Soviet countries will throw to it.

  3. Avatar туфтуф says:

    A Canadian “trusted source”: What do the frying pan people smoke?что-курит-кастрюльня/

  4. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Of course the Russian ownership of Crimea will be recognised. The Bulgarian President is right when he says its a fact that Russian flag flies over Crimea and we shouldnt close our eyes and pretend it didnt happen. My opinion: had there been no maidan, Ukraine wld now be a peaceful and prosperous country.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      No country in the world recognises the Russian attempted theft of Crimea, except for a few pariah states like North Korea. But keep dreaming…!

      1. Avatar туфтуф says:

        Bulgarian pressie is abt to recognise it…..

    2. Avatar onlyfactsplease says:

      What about your post is fact?
      Answer: Nothing.

      1. Avatar туфтуф says:

        I hear Westerners cannot enter Crimea without a RF visa. A tellling sign who owns a territory.

        1. Avatar onlyfactsplease says:

          You Ruskies are worse than children.
          If I can’t drive my stolen car because a car thief has it, does it mean that my car belongs to the thief?
          Possession (Ruskie has possession of Crimea) is not the same as ownership (Ukraine owns Crimea). Got it?

          1. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Of course it does. Until it is returned to the rightful owner. But it already has been returned. Cnt go back and forth forever. It is a strategically important site and Ukraine, being a militarily and economically insignificant, doesnt really need it. It hasnt fired a bullet EVER in an attempt to occupy it. Telling sign.

          2. Avatar onlyfactsplease says:

            Like I said, you Ruskies are worse than children. I once explained to an eleven-year-old child the difference between possession and ownership; she understood. You are a ridiculous people and you will never understand that a theft gives you no ownership, regardless how long you have it or how many times you lie about it.

          3. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Once Russia takes, it doesnt voluntarily give away. Except the Hague kangaroo court says so. Lol

          4. Avatar Alex George says:

            Good. The longer Russia takes, the more its economy is destroyed. All the better.

          5. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Only FT reported y day investors Russhing to Rushka. Does it necessarily mean more or less money for russkies? Am not an economic sexpert.

          6. Avatar туфтуф says:

            I agree. Russia is concerned more with security than economy, although FT writes investors are flocking to Russia. I know next to nothing abt economics, but seems Russia might benefit from the money in its expansionist spree.

          7. Avatar Alex George says:

            Ha ha, investors flocking to Russia – a very good joke there.

            And in the end, security is economy. But Kremlin leaders are too stupid to realise that.

          8. Avatar туфтуф says:

            FT report says it. Sorry.

          9. Avatar туфтуф says:

            I upvoted u. Lolz

          10. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Irrespective who the rightful owner is, until the breakaway part of a territory is returned, possession matters. Ownership itrelevant.

          11. Avatar Alex George says:

            “Of course it does. Until it is returned to the rightful owner.”

            Exactly – and Crimea will be returned to its rightful owner, Ukraine. Pity the Crimean people have to suffer in the meantime.

          12. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Ye. Ukros need to survive a tactical nuke b4 they get it and Poland 2. More sanctions from the toothless tiger (nato)… lol

          13. Avatar Alex George says:

            The toothless tiger is Russia, under Putin’s inept leadership

            And no, there will be no tactical nukes by Russia, much as you wish for them.

          14. Avatar туфтуф says:

            I hate nukes, even though they are not banned by intl law and can be legally used. Still, being a WMD weapon, cannot even spread demoNcracy properly. For obvious reasons.

          15. Avatar туфтуф says:

            How can we return something whiich, by taking (or being given to us) belongs to us now? Only a kangaroo court which Russia dsnt recognise can solve that problem.

          16. Avatar Alex George says:

            Crimea is Ukrainian. It will be returned to its rightful owner, Ukraine. Pity the Crimean people have to suffer in the meantime.

          17. Avatar туфтуф says:

            Who in their right mind wld give a strategic spot with the highest concentration of most sophisticated early warning systems and short and long range nukes to a fourth world country? Dnt be ridiculous.

          18. Avatar туфтуф says:


  5. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    This Bulgarian looks like a vulgarian. Being an EX-communist may explain it. The Bulgarian secret services and the KGB/FSB are soul brothers. Fellow cockroaches. Keep an eye on them, Brussels sprouts.

  6. Avatar Mephisto says:

    He looks like a KGB thug.

  7. Avatar onlyfactsplease says:

    What this insignificant nation thinks is irrelevant. Crimea is Ukrainian territory. Period.