Pity the poor Eastern Europeans. Fifty years under the
domination of their massive Soviet eastern neighbor then the
collapse of Communism there two decades ago offered undreamed of
opportunities to join both the European Union and NATO.
But they still remain dependent on the Russian Federation for
the majority of their oil and gas needs, and the new capitalists
in Moscow do not hesitate to charge the highest prices
According a number of East European nations, particularly
Poland and Bulgaria, are actively investigating the possibility
of establishing hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") operations on
their territory to develop an indigenous natural gas industry and
undercut the Russian Federation's state-owned natural gas
Mindful however of the possible negative environmental effects
of fracking last month 166 members of the Bulgarian National
Assembly's 240 parliamentarians voted to impose an indefinite ban
on shale gas exploration and extraction in Bulgaria using
hydraulic fracturing or other similar technology.
Now a hard-hitting editorial in the Trud newspaper by Ivan
Sotirov entitled, "Russian Lobby Against Shale Gas," accuses
pro-Russian Bulgarian supporters of fomenting protests against
shale gas operations in the country.
Commenting that "nightmare" protest rallies against fracking
have taken place in the capital's Sofia streets Sotirov wrote of
their effects, "The ostensibly rightist majority at the National
Assembly has capitulated, without any serious arguments, to this
pseudo-civic pressure, and has adopted a moratorium on
prospecting and extracting shale gas in Bulgaria. In other words,
the National Assembly has banned Bulgaria from learning whether
it has shale gas deposits - information which could have released
us from the total energy dependence on Russia. The majority in
the National Assembly has allowed the Bulgarian Socialist Party (
), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (
), and several semi self-disintegrating mini-parties to insult
the Minister of Energy (Traycho Traykov), who has been appointed
by the same confused and helpless majority... It has been
inadmissible for the chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces
(Martin Dimitrov) and rightist deputies to support this decision,
which contradicts the Bulgarian national interest and protects
our total energy dependence on Russia. In addition, all this has
been done without any serious motivation because the campaign
against the shale gas prospecting has been based on cheap
manipulations and lies. This has been an attempt to disguise a
political issue as a purely ecological matter."
Writing about the campaign as one of disinformation Sotirov
continues, "The first lie has been that experiments with a new
technology will be conducted in Bulgaria. This is totally
untrue... Second - the so-called defenders of environment
protection among the politicians have not cited even a single
example of a serious case of pollution after fracking."
Finally, Sotirov names names: "Noted chiefs of the Sixth
Department (of State Security - the Communist era secret
service), led by Dimitur Ivanov - Mityo the Gestapo and the
supporters of (former President) Georgi Purvanov's Grand Slam
(the 'Belene' Nuclear Power Plant construction, the 'South
Stream' (natural gas pipeline to export Gazprom gas) project, and
the 'Burgas-Alexandroupolis' oil pipeline project, are among the
protestors against shale gas prospecting...
Sotirov concludes, "The most shameful fact is the realization
that after 22 years of democracy Bulgaria's policy continues to
be dictated by oligarchic pro-Russian circles, which, hiding
behind nationalistic and ecological rhetoric have not allowed a
single serious strategic Western investor to set a foot in
Bulgaria. The question is when somebody will finally stop
Why would Bulgarian pro-Russian interests do such a thing?
Could it be that because of a long-term contract, Gazprom
delivers more than 90 percent of the natural gas consumed in
Or that last November it was announced that Gazprom will enter
Bulgaria's retail fuel market by buying gas stations in the
country through its Serbian unit Naftna Industrija Srbije?
Or that, according to Gazprom CEO Aleksei Millter, addressing
Gazprom's Annual General Shareholders Meeting on 30 June 2011,
during his presentation "Gazprom: New Horizons," outlined a
series pf projected natural gas pipelines across Bulgaria to
deepen Gazprom's market share in Eastern and Central Europe?
Or that in December 2010 Gazprom acquired a 50 percent stake
in the South Stream Bulgaria AD pipeline project?
Or the fact that the natural gas contract between Bulgaria and
Gazprom expires later this year?
Or that Gazprom is forecasting its consolidated net profit for
2011 at $40 billion, or 25 percent more than in 2010?
Nah, surely none of the above - Bulgarian parliamentarians are
only being good custodians of the country's environment,
By. John C.K. Daly of