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Wall Street Journal's Latest Laughable Scare: A Russian-Dominated Bulgaria

Wall Street Journal is raising alarm about the far-fetched notion of Bulgaria possibly becoming Putin's "Trojan horse" within EU and NATO


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


Philip Bakardjiev is a British-Bulgarian polemicist. He holds a Law LLB (Hons) degree from King’s College London and is also a qualified TEFL teacher.


It is a fine thing to be drinking one’s afternoon tea with a smile on one’s face, but it is positively difficult to do so when reading the Wall Street Journal, for the smile is certain to transform into a feat of uncontrollable laughter. Especially when there are articles as manifestly comical as the one entitled ‘’Putin Targets Pro-Western Bulgaria’’

The article’s author, a Mr. Gary MacDougall, happens to be the founding chairman of the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund and the co-chairman of the America for Bulgaria Foundation. He also appears to have been deeply involved with the Republican Party in the US and is said to be a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Is it then surprising, that Mr. McDougall has attempted to portray himself, and his foundation, as the good American or pro-American protectors of Bulgarian independence against Russian aggression?

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However, the fun does not stop here: the article is so full of exaggerations,  blatant defence of vested interests, North Korea-style (or US-style?) propaganda, misplaced praise and fake boogeymen, that it makes it impossible not to burst out in laughter.

The article begins with the now banal fearmongering that Mr. Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union and force a small, but heroic NATO & EU vassal Bulgaria, to leave these benevolent organisations - or worse - to become a Russian’’ Trojan Horse’’ that may take them over from within. 

The idea that Bulgaria, a country with next to no soft power, and which has been pillaged by formerly Communist stooges, but who are now pro-Western oligarchs, into being the poorest country in the EU, can in any way influence NATO when even more prosperous EU countries, such as Britain and France, can’t , is preposterous.

Mr. MacDougal then paints the menacing picture of a Bulgarian population which is not entirely certain about its ‘’Euro-Atlantic’’ future, and which is vulnerable to political parties, media barons and shady oligarchs financed by Putin. It would have been great to have a crack at the subject of Russian influence in Bulgaria and the fact that Bulgaria, being a NATO & EU puppet, does not really have an independent foreign, or domestic, policy that the Russians can influence in any significant way.

In the rare occasions where Russia has tried to get closer to Bulgaria and actually negotiate a serious trade or business deal, Bulgaria’s ’partners’ from NATO & the EU have been quick to prevent it. Remember the ‘’South Stream’’ episode?  Indeed, it would have been an interesting topic to delve into, but, sadly, Mr. MacDougall has not named a single oligarch, politician or Putinist agent for us to discuss. Apart from Mr. MacDougall’s superficial and general, but rather loaded, assertions (Russia-connected’’; ‘’operating with impunity’’) about Putin’s alleged shady network , there seems to be little of substance.

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If you are not trembling with fear yet, Mr. MacDougal’s  shall will help you out with the scariest piece of information of all . Apparently, Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic script and many Bulgarians speak Russian, and this fact makes the country a potential Russian ‘’Trojan Horse’’! Shock and horror! Mr. MacDougall doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that the Cyrillic script was used in Bulgaria before it was exported to Russia in the XI century. 

For those interested in the subject, it was St.Clement of Ohrid and his co-labourers in Christ, who came up with the script. Should Bulgarians not use the script that first graced their lands? Russian and Bulgarian are very similar, though not identical, languages and many Bulgarians, naturally, find Russian to be an easy language to learn and many from the older generation studied Russian as a compulsory subject at school.  It seems that any link or common history with Russia, however harmless, is to be treated as a liability.

And then, Mr. MacDougal gets to the point. He seems to be rather disappointed that, in a rare act of actual independence, the Bulgarian government had sent the fracking fat-cats from Chevron packing.  He seems to agree with the opinion of the analysts whom he does not name, that it was Russian money that helped the environmentalists who led the successful campaign against fracking.

In his opinion, Chevron would have brought energy independence to Bulgaria. Therefore, are we to disregard all the very valid arguments against fracking  or Chevron’s rather poor track- record? It seems that being a slave to the likes of Chevron, and having the latter pillage and plunder your country, is preferable to being in any way friendly with the ‘’evil ‘’Russian bogeyman.

Finally, Mr. MaDougal boasts about his foundation’s benevolence in having funded the only ‘’independent media‘’ group left in the country.  The Economedia  group is responsible for the newspapers ‘’Capital’’ (weekly) and ‘’Capital Daily’’ and a few news websites. The websites and newspapers are very professionally done and happen to be contain many Europhile, NATOphile, pro-globalisation ,pro-deragulation and pro-homosexuality opinion pieces.  

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These are, probably, the Western values that deserve protection and promotion. The media outlets of the group also serve as a platform for pro-Western columnists, some of whom are members and chairmen of Western-funded NGOs. The America for Bulgaria foundation has donated 3 million Bulgarian levs (about 1,5 million Euros) to the Economedia group between 2011 to 2014. Clearly, the only independent media, and therefore the only media worth funding, is pro-western media.

Are you not entertained?


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