Socialists say Bulgaria pays high price for EU’s Russia

Kornelia Ninova, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist party.

European Union sanctions on Russia hurts Bulgaria, which should improve ties with Moscow and defend its interests within the 28-member bloc, the leader of the leftist Socialist party said ahead of a March 26 parliamentary election.

Kornelia Ninova, 48, a Bulgarian politician, from the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and took the reins of the former communist party last year, saw its support almost double to about 30 percent after Russia-friendly Rumen Radev, backed by her party, won the presidency in November.

Her party is now a key contender in the parliamentary election, running neck and neck with the centre-right GERB party which has been less critical of the European Union’s stance on Russia.

Ninova’s Socialists seek a bigger role for the state in the economy as well as closer ties with Moscow, in contrast to GERB’s platform to deepen ties with Brussels and pursue pro-market policies.

The close party standings in the polls means that the outcome of the race is unpredictable and Bulgaria will most likely have another fragile coalition government.

“The Bulgarian Socialist Party is against the extension of the sanctions which is against Russia because they hurt the Bulgarian national interest. We lost from these sanctions” Ninova said.