Eastern Europe Faces Freezing Temperatures and Russian Gas Cut-Off

With freezing temperatures across most of Europe, there was heated anger, especially in Eastern Europe on Wednesday, about the suspension in natural gas deliveries from Russia through Ukraine. The gas crisis comes at a difficult time for leading politicians, especially in Bulgaria, where some 2,000 people demanded the government's resignation on Wednesday over allegations of corruption.

The shortages of natural gas from Russia added to anger of protesters who braved the cold in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, to demand the resignation of the country's Socialist-led government.

They were upset that Bulgaria remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, despite being a member of the European Union.

What began as a peaceful protest of students, farmers and medical workers in front of the parliament building, turned violent when masked youths threw snow and rocks at police, and vandalized several police vehicles.

Officials say several people were injured, including six police officers. Dozens of protesters were detained.

Bulgarians are not the only East Europeans frustrated during this unseasonable cold winter. There have been reports of people freezing to death across the region, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas via Ukraine.

Russia says neighboring Ukraine is holding up the transport of Russian natural gas to Europe. Moscow cut all gas supplies to the West last week in a pricing dispute with Ukraine. Kyiv blames Moscow for the supply disruption.

In Hungary, where reserves are running low, officials say some 40 people have died this month from frigid temperatures, often because heating systems do not work properly due to a lack of natural gas pressure.

More deaths have been reported across Eastern Europe, where many people are now searching forests for wood to use as heating fuel.

Fearing more deaths, Hungary's government has ordered municipalities and energy companies not to cut off people who do not pay their gas bills.

In Slovakia's capital, Bratislava, people expressed their frustration with their leaders on Slovak television. "They have to give the natural gas to us," one middle aged bus driver said. "Because it is too cold. A lot of people can freeze to death."

Slovakia's Prime Minister, Robert Fico, who visited Moscow on Wednesday, has not ruled out restarting a Soviet-era nuclear reactor despite European Union protests as gas reserves are expected to run out by the end of the month.

People in Bratislava told Slovak television they need energy -- nuclear, if necessary. "We need to have normal temperatures at home this winter," one man said. "So if they want to restart the nuclear reactor and keep the operation within international rules, I think it's okay," he added.

Slovakia, which depends on Russia for nearly all of its natural gas imports, has already declared a state of energy emergency to conserve its gas reserves. That has forced several companies including French and South Korean car makers, to suspend production.

Similar measures have been introduced in Hungary and other East European countries.


This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs