Bivol was the first one to reveal that a few days before the resignation of the Socialist-endorsed government of Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, the State sold on the cheap 358 decares of Bulgaria’s forest fund to the company South Stream Bulgaria JSC. However, prior to that the statute of use of the land was changed from forest to construction site on grounds that this was a site of national importance. In its decision to change the statute, the Executive Forestry Agency (EFA) cited an exception in the Black Sea Coast Act which applies only to infrastructure projects of national importance.

However, the site is already gone! The Russian-sponsored gas pipeline project South Stream is now stopped by an official statement of Russian President Putin, confirmed by the Head of Gazprom Alexei Miller.

What is happing to the forest sold for pocket change?

The price of the transaction, concluded on July 22, is 10,780,270 levs, or only 15 euro per square meter.

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In comparison, lands in the same area, (near Pasha Dere), through which the servitude of South Stream will pass, were purchased by First Investment Bank (FIB) for 207 levs per square meter. Meanwhile, in October, FIB managed to sell these lands for a record price of 100 million euro or 600 euro per square meter, according to a publication in Capital daily.

Bivol alerted the prosecution about the disadvantageous deal on July 30, 2014. The signal is registered with dock number 7880/2014 at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Cassations. So far there is no news about any probe conducted by the State Prosecution.

As Bivol wrote, Pasha Dere is a strategic location. Because of the geological characteristics of the shelf, it is the only place on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast where pipelines can go on land from the sea. Even if Bulgaria is to discover its own gas, the likely pipeline will exit the sea there and will go through the same terrain.

The fact that the ownership of the only land where a pipeline can pass is controlled by the Russian State means that Bulgaria can be subjected to blackmail and delay of key infrastructure projects that could secure our energy independence.

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