Bulgarian officials discuss migration, other risks from Ukraine crisis

A special meeting of senior Bulgarian security and government officials on April 17 discussed major aspects of the crisis in Ukraine, including security of critical infrastructure in that country, the risk of increased migration to EU member countries including Bulgaria and possible expansion of military conflict to involve third countries.

This is according to a brief statement by the Bulgarian interior ministry after the meeting, which was chaired by Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev.

Others who attended were Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetlozar Lazarov, State Agency for National Security head Vladimir Pisanchev, heads of the special services, ministers, representative of state agencies, heads of the national and border police, fire safety and “leaders other structures”, the ministry statement said.

The statement said that “specific tasks and measures” had been identified for state institutions, but it was not immediately clear what these were.

The same day and in a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry quoted minister Kristian Vigenin as saying that to assist Bulgaria’s tourist industry, an additional 60 consular staff were being sent to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova this summer.

There has been wildly varying speculation in the Bulgarian-language media about possible impacts of the crisis involving Ukraine and Russia on Bulgaria’s summer seaside tourism industry.

International and independent Ukrainian media reported on the ever-worsening crisis in Ukraine under Russian pressure.

The Voice of America reported on April 17 that Ukraine was holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds, according to an announcement by Ukraine’s State Security Service, rthe SBU.

Answering a journalist’s question about comments made on April 17 by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the extent of Russian involvement in the Ukraine crisis, an SBU spokeswoman said, “We have about 10 Russians, with Russian passports, who have been detained.”

“They have all had experience of intelligence work,” she said. They were being investigated, she added.

Earlier, Ukraine’s interior minister said at least three pro-Russian separatists were killed and 13 wounded in a clash with national guardsmen at a base in the Ukrainian town of Mariupol.

Arsen Avakov said the separatists attacked the base with grenades and gasoline bombs. He said the troops disarmed most of the attackers and arrested 63.

The incident comes as the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers get ready for emergency talks in Geneva with US secretary of state John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Russian airline Aeroflot announced that the Ukrainian government has imposed heavy travel restrictions to Ukraine from Russia for males aged 16 to 60, the Kyiv Post reported in a series of live updates on April 17. To enter they must meet the following criteria: proof of family ties, death or severe illness to close family member, or a certified original copy of an invitation from legal entities or individuals.

Similar restrictions apply to Ukrainians registered in the Autonomous Region of Crimea and city of Sevastopol.

(Photo of Lazarov, Yovchev and Pisanchev: Interior Ministry press centre)



The Sofia Globe staff

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