Bulgarian Interior Ministry sets rules on arrivals from Ukraine

Under EU rules, Ukrainian citizens have the right to enter Bulgaria without a visa and the right to stay for 90 days within a six-month period, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said on March 1.

The note came six days after, acting on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian military forces launched a massive new military invasion of Ukraine, triggering a flow of refugees out of Ukraine.

The Bulgarian Interior Ministry has stated that under the Aliens Act, the duration of stay in Bulgaria can be extended for humanitarian reasons related to extraordinary circumstances.

The ministry said Ukrainian citizens wishing to extend their visa-free stay can apply to the Migration Directorate before their visa-free stay ends.

The form can be completed on site or completed in advance by downloading it from the website of the Directorate of Migration.

Ukrainian citizens of Bulgarian origin can obtain a long-term or permanent residence permit in Bulgaria if they have an employment contract with a Bulgarian employer for a period longer than six months.

Ukrainian citizens who wish to benefit from international protection – refugee status or humanitarian status – can apply for it at the offices of the National Agency for Refugees.

In other news in Bulgaria on the afternoon of March 1 related to the Russian-Ukrainian war:

The Ministry of Health said on March 1 that Minister Assena Serbezova had sent a letter to regional health inspectorates and emergency medical care centers across the country, asking them to take all possible and necessary measures to provide quality and timely medical care to Ukrainian citizens seeking asylum in Bulgaria.

Serbezova said in the letter that it is necessary to coordinate regional health inspectorates, Sofia’s emergency medical care service and the country’s medical institutions so that every Ukrainian citizen receives the necessary health care.

Regional Health Inspectorates and the Center for Emergency Medical Care in Sofia should inform the Ministry of Health in a timely manner about the organization set up in each district, the measures taken and the coordination system, the statement said. .

In connection with the provision of health care to Ukrainian citizens crossing or staying in Bulgaria, Serbezova also held a meeting with representatives of the State Agency for Refugees, Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Bulgarian Red Cross, National Child Protection Agency, among others.

During the meeting, Petya Parvanova, director of the State Agency for Refugees, said that any Ukrainian citizen who applied for international protection was entitled to free health care in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian national radio reported that volunteers traveling in seven cars and a minibus left Dobrich for the border with Ukraine to provide transport for refugees who cannot get to Bulgaria..

The trip was organized in two days on social networks, and they were joined by the municipality of Dobrich, which provided two other minibuses.

The cars will also carry food and sanitary materials to be left at the border, according to the report.

Municipalities in the Veliko Turnovo region are facing serious difficulties in receiving refugees from the war in Ukraine, Bulgarian national radio said..

A bus with 70 refugees from the war in Ukraine was expected in Svishtov. They will be housed in municipal social housing, but there is a problem and a donation campaign has been announced, said Lyubomira Petrova, head of the municipality of Svishtov.

“There are no cookers and a donation campaign has already been announced for the collection of packaged food, bedding and hygiene products,” Petrova said.

“We are going to ask for financial aid from the state because we cannot cover the accommodation and food costs of the refugees at the municipal hotel,” said the deputy mayor of Polski Trumbesh, Azif Kadir.

“Our preliminary estimates show that we need around 100 leva (about 50 euros) per person per day,” Kadir said.

Bulgaria’s broadcasting regulator, the Council for Electronic Media, voted, four out of five in favor and one abstention, to temporarily block Russian broadcasters from being broadcast in Bulgaria.

The decision, taken at a special meeting on March 1, affects RT (Russia Today) and its derivatives, as well as Sputnik and its derivatives, the Electronic Media Council said in a notice posted on its website.

The council’s decision was forwarded to the Communications Regulatory Commission for implementation.

The Sega daily quoted board member Rozita Elenova as saying the decision was even late, as Bulgaria had long been in a Hybrid War situation.

“These Russian media have proven that they cannot present information impartially, and today we are carrying out a normal act of control due to the continuation of aggressive propaganda,” Elenova said.

“In times of military aggression, there is incitement to hatred and violence, which is a punishable crime even under extremely liberal legislation like ours,” she said.

Sega said the board member who abstained was Sonya Momchilova, appointed to the board in 2021 from Chairman Roumen Radev’s quota.

For the previous Sofia Globe March 1 summary of news in Bulgaria related to the Russian-Ukrainian war, please click here.

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Betty K. Park