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The Czech Republic on Tuesday criticised a move by Bulgaria to strip Czech state-run power giant CEZ of its distribution licence in a bid to ease public anger over the high price of electricity ahead of elections.
"The situation is most alarming for us of course, mainly because Bulgaria as an EU member has taken a totally unprecedented course of action here," Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba told the CTK news agency.
He added he was worried by the fact that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had announced the step before the Bulgarian regulator informed CEZ about the proceedings.
Borisov said Tuesday CEZ's licence would be revoked "by the end of the day" amid protests over electricity prices that have turned into rallies against his right-wing government, just over five months before a general election.
CEZ said it saw the statement as "a severe breach of the law in Bulgaria, an EU member state," insisting the country's energy watchdog was the only body entitled to decide about the revocation.
"In Bulgaria, CEZ fulfils all duties imposed by the regulatory framework set by the local energy regulatory body," it said in a statement.
"Therefore, it completely rejects any faults that could theoretically lead to the revocation procedure... and disagrees with the political dimension the issue has acquired ahead of the general elections," it added.
The Czech state controls 66 percent of CEZ, ranked central Europe's biggest utility and public company.
It is traded on the Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges and operates at home as well as in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.