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Here is a short press release on PPF Group’s acquisitions in the Telcos on Monte Negro, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria – to be followed by subsequent acquisitions in media. All of these 4 countries are

https://www.ppf.eu/en/press-releases/ppf-group-buys-telenors-telecommunications-assets-in-cee-countries

 

It takes only few clicks on the net to ascertain the close relationship between Petr Kellner and the pro-Russian president Zeman, as well as the Czech businessman’s exposure in and with Russian firms, including to vet ties to VTB (Home Credit). There is a 100 per cent proven lithmus test – anyone doing business in Russia at the moment in strategic sectors has a rubber stamp of loyalty to Kremlin.

 

Vladimir Putin raises the stakes and elevates his game against the West to new heights. US and EU sanctions have severly constrained the capacity of Russian oligarchs and Western strategic partners to acquire and control assets for and on behalf the Kremlin, to counter NATO/EU policies and engage in strategic ‘divide and rule”projects (South and Nord Stream).

 

Using East and West European backdoor proxies is the new favourite line at the Kremlin Strategic School of Thought and Czechia tops the list. Not only are Russian secret services enjoying a free ride in this country, but recent elections have added to the pro-Russian president Zeman a new wave of pro-Russian parties and oligarchs-turned-politicians that make Czechia ideal for the role of a proxy face.

 

The CEZ, Telenor and Nova TV deals in Bulgaria are part of a concise geopolitical drive by the Kremlin to bring developments in Bulgaria in line with the Czechia pattern as Sofia’s role in engaging the West Balkans further with the EU and NATO has long been a thorn in the heel of Moscow.

 

Kremlin’s Kellner gambit is simple – take over key cash flows generated in business (energy and telco) and public opinion shaping assets (Nova TV and troll factories) in Bulgaria and elect a pro-Russian government that will give up ambitions of showing EU and NATO flags in the West Balkans.
Reshetnikov’s plan succeed only partially, in electing a pro-Russian president – Roumen Radev, but tumbled in replacing Borissov at the helm of the real executive power. A modest measure of success was the entry of pro-Russian Ataka and VMRO nationalists into the ruling coalition, which gives Moscow additional negative power over defense and security issues, but is still inadequate to tame Bulgaria’s pro-West policy in the West Balkans.

 

Reshentikov made a forced concession these days although “we have many friends in Bulgaria in the West’s hybrid war against Russia….but we increasingly diverging from the Bulgarians – not only with the ruling elite, but also with a large part of the people”.

 

The West has been too slow not only in identifying Facebook and social networks as key battle grounds with Russia, but has taken a benign neglect approach to Kremlin’s proxy policies in expanding control over economies and the poltical process in East European countries via political and business oligarchs’ networks.

 

By Ilian Vassilev

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