Bulgarian Socialist leader meets blacklisted senior Russian official

Sergey Naryshkin and Kornelia Ninova [BSP website]

On a visit to Russia, Bulgarian Socialist Party chief Kornelia Ninova met with Sergey Naryshkin, President of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, who is on the EU sanctions list. Ninova stated that her party is against the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Ninova attended the congress of the United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin. United Russia calls itself conservative, but the ideological difference didn’t prevent the Bulgarian Socialists, and another centre-left party, ABV, home to former President Georgi Parvanov, from being special guests at the event.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is the largest opposition party in Bulgaria. Sergei Stanishev, leader of the Party of European Socialists, was the BSP leader from 2001 to 2014. Today (28 June), Stanishev is hosting a pre-summit meeting of the EU heads of state and government from the centre-left political family.

Ninova was recently elected BSP leader, with the task of winning back disaffected voters and pushing for an early general election.

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According to the Bulgarian press, Ninova met with Naryshkin, and the two discussed the EU sanctions and the travel ban list, in which the Russian politician is included.

“These sanctions did harm to the Bulgarian economy, agriculture and tourism. We insist that they should be lifted,” Ninova is quoted as saying.

Ninova also said that her party is against the Romanian initiative for a joint fleet of Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Ukraine, intended to serve as a counterbalance Russian naval power in the Black Sea.

In this respect, the positions of the BSP and the centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borissov coincide. Recently, Borissov said that Bulgaria was among the most loyal EU countries and was doing what was expected of the European family, but added that there was no way that Bulgaria would be attacked by Russia.

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Ninova met United Russia’s leader, Boris Grizlov, and they are reported to have discussed opportunities for deepening inter-party relations, improving contacts between their leaders, and the development of political relations and economic ties between the two countries.

Georgi Parvanov is also attending the congress. Speaking at a panel titled “The world in 2016 – challenges and opportunities,” Parvanov said that the modern security architecture cannot be built without Russia, and also called for the lifting of EU sanctions against Moscow.

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