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Bulgarian Petkov points finger at mafia and Russia as government crumbles – POLITICO

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov squarely blamed Russia and his own country’s powerful mafia after his government lost a vote of no confidence on Wednesday.

Petkov, who came to power just six months ago, was elected to pledge to tackle the country’s endemic corruption and has pushed Sofia to take an unusually tough line against Russia since the invasion of Ukraine .

In the vote of no confidence, some 123 lawmakers out of 239 in parliament voted against his cabinet.

“This vote is only a small step on the very long road ahead of us. I promise that we will continue the battle to reclaim the country and one day we will have a Bulgaria without puppeteers, without mafia – a normal European country,” he said in a farewell speech to the National Assembly.

Giving a list of people who had been instrumental in overthrowing his administration, Petkov named Russia’s ambassador to Sofia and accused Russia of exerting influence over his removal through party lawmakers. Far Right Revival.

Wednesday’s no-confidence vote was precipitated by former talk show host turned politician Slavi Trifonov who abruptly withdrew his “There Are Such People” party from a shaky four-party government coalition. Trifonov says he has disagreements over the budget and accuses Petkov of taking too soft a stance in allowing North Macedonia to start EU membership talks.

In recent days, much of the political debate has focused on whether Trifonov is unplugging the government for reasons related to Bulgaria’s powerful oligarchic mafia, which stands to lose in Petkov’s promised crackdown on corruption. This interpretation was reinforced by a handful of lawmakers from Trifonov’s party, who defected to Petkov precisely because they said their own party sided with the mafia. Trifonov countered that the mafia allegations were nonsense.

Petkov’s party, followed by the opposition, will now have the opportunity to try to muster the support of a viable majority. If that fails – as seems likely – the country will be set for its fourth general election since April 2021.