Bulgaria expels two Russian diplomats over spying allegations


Sofia, MAR 2: Bulgaria has given two Russian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country over accusations of spying, Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska said on Wednesday.

Bulgaria, Moscow’s closest ally during the Cold War but now a European Union and NATO member state that has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has expelled eight other Russian diplomats over suspected spying since October 2019.

“Two Russian diplomats have been declared persona non grata, after we received a letter from the chief prosecutor,” Genchovska told reporters.

Prosecutors on Wednesday accused one Russian diplomat of espionage and said a Bulgarian reserve general was being investigated for handing out information considered to be state secrets to the Russian diplomat. The prosecutors did not provide details of the timing of the events.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bulgaria has stepped up work on probes linked to national security and authorities were assessing whether more Russian diplomats had breached their status, a government spokeswoman said.

The foreign ministry has handed a second note to a representative of the Russian embassy in Sofia to protest against a recent publication seen as offensive to Bulgaria and its Western allies on social media.

In a Feb. 28 Facebook post, the embassy said a number of Russian government websites had been blocked or were displaying incorrectly in Bulgaria, because of “the information aggression by Washington and its Euro-Atlantic henchmen”.