It’s not true that a NATO aircraft has deterred the launch of anti-hail missiles near Sadovo

  • The claim that anti-hail missiles were not launched near Sadovo on 31st May 2022 because of a landing NATO aircraft is false.

The false claim that a NATO aircraft has prevented the launch of anti-hail missiles near Sadovo spreads through social media and several news websites. The hailstorm of the afternoon on 31st May 2022 damaged a big part of the agricultural production, which led to a series of strikes by farmers. According to them the main reason for the destroyed harvest was the imposed ban on launching anti-hail missiles.

The Bulgarian Ministry of agriculture, food and forests confirms that there was an imposed ban, but because of a passenger airliner and not a military aircraft. In a press release they explain as follows: “The Airspace Coordination Centre imposed a ban on the launch of anti-hail missiles between 16:15 and 16:31 in order to prevent any risk for the human life as there was a passenger airliner flying over that territory.”

The same information was confirmed by the Airspace Coordination Centre in response to a request made by Factcheck.bg. According to the response the ban was imposed in accordance with the existing law of anti-hail protection. A request for gradual ceasing of the launching between 16:15 and 16:23 was made. The reason was not an airliner that was flying over but rather a landing airliner (TVA090, LZMDK) at the Plovdiv airport, executing a flight from Paris. However, due to the bad weather the pilot decided to land in Sofia. Thus the launching of anti-hail missiles was renewed at 16:31.

Where does the “NATO aircraft” version come from?

A day before the hailstorm, on 30th May 2022, the head of the regional department of anti-hail systems at Popovitsa Nikola Kovachev explained during a broadcast of the Bulgarian National TV that during the last month all the six hail suppression programs were deterred at least twice by the Airspace Coordination Centre because of airplanes flying nearby. “The bans are increasing and it’s no surprise as we have two big airports in proximity – Krumovo and Cheshnegirovo. The Graf Ignatievo Air Base is not far away as well. I would say that the military activities are increasing, foreign airplanes are flying over, including NATO aircrafts.”

The personal opinion of this expert was taken out of context and then shared through social media and several media outlets after the hailstorm near Sadovo took place.

The morning show at Alfa TV (owned by Alfa foundation, whose owner is Volen Siderov – chairman of the nationalist party Attack) broadcasted a 30-minute long segment, titled Hailstorms caused by NATO aircrafts. The video has more than 1500 views on Youtube.

Angel Georgiev, a MP from the political party Revival, published a post in Facebook, titled Hailstorm caused by a NATO aircraft? although he himself says that there is still not clear information about the airplane. His post is shared 188 times. Afterwards it was shared on the official Facebook page of the party Revival alongside the same text and photograph. There the post has 330 shares and over 1100 reactions. The given Facebook page has nearly 95 000 followers.

Fact checked:

The claim that a NATO aircraft has deterred the launch of anti-hail missiles near Sadovo on 31st May 2022 is false. The launch was banned because of a landing passenger airliner executing a flight from Paris.

Translated by Vanessa Nikolova


Забрани за стрелба срещу градоносните облаци заради прелитащи самолети в Пловдивско: https://bntnews.bg/news/zabrani-za-strelba-sreshtu-gradonosnite-oblaci-zaradi-prelitashti-samoleti-v-plovdivsko-1196482news.html?fbclid=IwAR1fHs1TAkAF-gDRqt9bpUCWEdizs2lyTy_lGe7Sr7hWFD5wJsQ6ym2bn9w

Министър Иван Иванов: Земеделските производители ще получат адекватна помощ за щетите от градушката: https://www.mzh.government.bg/bg/press-center/novini/ministr-ivan-ivanov-zemedelskite-proizvoditeli-she/

Земеделци от Пловдивско блокираха главен път за Турция заради унищожена реколта: https://nova.bg/news/view/2022/06/01/370755/земеделци-от-пловдивско-блокираха-главен-път-за-турция-заради-унищожена-реколта/

This publication has been created within the project FENCE: Building resilience for safeguarding political debates in EU Southeast frontiers, with the support of the European Union. The responsibility for the content lies entirely with Factcheck.bg.

This publication is part of the project "Science and Journalism: Together Against Infodemic", which has financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of the publication belongs to AEJ-Bulgaria and under no circumstances it reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria (www.activecitizensfund.bg).

Mirela Petkova
Mirela Petkova
Mirela Petkova is a freelance researcher and journalist. She is excited about problems that affect the Balkans, Eastern Europe and China, as well as debunking misinformation and intelligence through open sources. Since the autumn of 2020, she has been working for the British media New Statesman, where she collects, analyzes and visualizes databases related to the energy transition and climate change. Her main goal is to help journalists with verified, reliable and timely information.

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