Bulgarian Socialists Name Air Force Chief to Run for President

  • Former Air Force commander Rumen Radev will run in Nov. 6 vote
  • Prime Minister Borissov’s Gerb party has no candidate yet

Bulgaria’s opposition Socialists nominated Rumen Radev, a former commander of the Balkan country’s Air Force, to run for president in the Nov. 6 election, Kornelia Ninova, party chairwoman, told reporters on Wednesday.

President Rosen Plevneliev, elected on the ticket of the ruling Gerb party, said he won’t run for re-election after his five-year term in office ends in January 2017. The president, whose powers are largely ceremonial, is elected in a direct ballot with a minimum 50 percent of the votes, according to the constitution. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s Gerb party, which returned to power after winning snap elections in 2014, hasn’t named its presidential candidate yet.

Radev resigned from the military on Aug. 1 after a disagreement with Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev. Nothing has been done to modernize the Air Force in the past two years, Radev told reporters on Tuesday, adding that Bulgaria’s plans to invite other NATO countries for joint air-policing patrols of its airspace were “humiliating” as Bulgaria’s Air Force dates back to 1912.

The European Union’s poorest state in terms of per-capita output plans to buy fighter jets and warships costing as much as 2.3 billion lev ($1.33 billion) to replace outdated Soviet-era armament as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization increases its defense capability in eastern Europe.

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