Far right activists attack Ukrainians visiting Bulgaria to buy Russian-made nuclear reactors

Far right activists attack Ukrainians visiting Bulgaria to buy Russian-made nuclear reactors
Protest organised by pro-Russian Vazrazhdane prevented a Ukrainian delegation inspecting reactors Bulgarian originally bought from Russia. / Vazrazhdane via Facebook
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia May 15, 2024

Members and supporters of Bulgaria’s far-right pro-Russian Vazrazhdane party attacked the car transporting a Ukrainian delegation that has arrived to inspect a Russia-made equipment for two nuclear reactors stored at Belene, Dnevnik news outlet reported on May 14.

The delegation arrived a day earlier to inspect the equipment which Bulgaria no longer needs and wants to sell to Ukraine.

Vazrazhdane attacked the car as part of its election campaign for the upcoming general and European Parliament elections and did not allow the delegation to reach the site of the Belene NPP where the equipment is stored.

Vazrazhdane’s leader Kostadin Kostadinov also confirmed the attack on Facebook without giving details. However, Kostadinov claimed that the Ukrainian delegation would get the reactors for free.

In July last year, Bulgaria’s parliament agreed to sell the Russian equipment for two nuclear reactors to Ukraine as the country has abandoned plans to use them and decided to build two reactors with US technology.

It was reported earlier this week that experts from Ukraine’s state nuclear operator Energoatom are visiting Bulgaria to inspect the Russian-made nuclear reactors and equipment the country wants to sell Kyiv, the Bulgarian National Electricity Company (NEC) said in a press release on May 13.

The new reactors will be built at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine to compensate for the lost capacity of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that was occupied by Russia at the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

Bulgaria originally bought two reactors from Russia to install in the Belene NPP project, which has now been abandoned, after repeated u-turns by successive Bulgarian governments.

Plans to build Belene NPP date back to 2005 when the then government of Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha decided to build the new power plant as a substitute for four closed nuclear reactors at the Kozloduy NPP.

In July 2023, the parliament approved a proposal by the ex-government of Nikolai Denkov to sell the equipment acquired for the construction of Belene NPP to Ukraine.

Instead of the new power plant, Bulgaria is now planning to build new reactors at the existing Kozloduy NPP and signed an agreement with US Westinghouse Electric Company on the construction of an AP1000 reactor.