With Europe shivering in the middle of winter, gas cuts mean widespread misery. Serbia has been lucky, striking a deal with neighbours Hungary and Germany for some of their spare gas, but there are still problems. Many factories are still crippled by the shortages, with machinery shut down, and workers sent home. Other businesses say they can cope for the time being:
“I can say on behalf of Hemofarm that we always keep a month’s supply of medicines for hospitals, so if this situation does not go on too long there should be no immediate problem,” said Hemofarm technical director Dejan Ivanovic. Bulgaria is worse off. Warmth is in short supply in the capital Sofia, with schools and kindergartens closed for the foreseeable future, and private homes having their communal heating cut. People are worried, because January is always the coldest month of the year. Some people have already turned to old-fashioned methods, like wood -burning stoves, to keep warm, but with the mercury falling to minus 17, jokers say that Russia has sent Siberia rather than gas.