Leaked documents from the emails of Russian politicians show that the Kremlin, through Russian and Belarusian companies, had full control over the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline through Bulgaria from 2019-2021, despite then-Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s claims that the project was under the Bulgarian government’s control, Capital reported.

Capital published leaked documents from the Russians’ emails about the road map for the construction of the Turkish Stream.

The gas pipeline, which runs through Bulgaria, transports Russian gas to Serbia and Hungary. As previously reported by Euractiv, the Turkish Stream will remain the only pipeline carrying Russian gas to the EU from the beginning of 2025.

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Documents have been leaked from the hacked email of Russian politician Alexander Babakov, who has been sanctioned several times since 2014 for Russian aggression in Ukraine and has been named as one of the people who organised the secret funding of political formations in several countries. There are also leaked documents from the email of Yevgeny Zobnin, Babakov’s assistant.

The documents show that in the 2018-2020 period, during the last GERB government, Russia took full control of the entire project, Capital reported.

The Bulgarian authorities first held a tender for the gas pipeline construction, which was won by the Saudi consortium Arkad in early 2019. The deal will be finalised on 14 October 2019 during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia.

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Kremlin accused the assembly of "biased, discriminatory approaches, double standards, total Russophobia, unpreparedness for meaningful discussions."

An agreement was reached to transfer control of the gas pipeline project through Bulgaria from the Saudi consortium Arkad to the Russian side by appointing subcontractors.

On 18 November 2019, a binding management agreement was signed between the Russians and the Saudi consortium. Russia paid the Saudis $50 million first and then another $35 million as compensation.

In 2020, Russian and Belarusian companies started building a pipeline in Bulgaria. They were approved by the Bulgarian state company Bulgartransgaz, which owns the gas infrastructure in the country, writes Capital.

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In the tender documents, Arkad did not list any subcontractors, which means that the participation of the Russian and Belarusian companies was politically approved by the Bulgarian authorities, the media added.

The continuation of the gas pipeline was built extremely quickly during the third GERB government under Borisov. This route was implemented much faster than the inter-system gas connection between Bulgaria and Greece, contributing to the real diversification of gas sources for the Bulgarian economy.

Euractiv asked the Commission whether the leak confirms the suspicion that the rules for concluding contracts were grossly violated and everything was rigged for Gazprom and Russia’s geopolitical plans. It was also asked whether EU rules had been broken and, if so, what the consequences would be.

The Commission said it had not received any complaints and was not currently investigating them.

“In accordance with EU rules and the principle of transparency, the public procurement notice was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 26.12.2018 under number 2018/S 248-574577 and published in TED (Tenders Electronic Daily)”, the response of the Commission says adding that the Bulgarian Bulgartransgaz has also published other tender documents on its website.

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(Krassen Nikolov, Georgi Gotev | Euractiv.bg)

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