Bulgaria granted citizenship to 1700 people in 2012, about 23.4 per cent of them Russians, according to figures released on November 18 2014 by European Union statistics office Eurostat.
The statistics come a few weeks after Eurostat figures showed that in 2013, Bulgaria granted 6436 residence permits, of which 45 per cent were given to Russians.
Of the citizenships granted by Bulgaria in 2012, almost all were to people from non-EU countries, Eurostat said.
In second place were people from Macedonia (16.3 per cent), followed by Moldovans (13.9 per cent) and Ukrainians (12.1 per cent).
The figures on citizenships granted also come against a background of official investigations having established that there were serious irregularities in granting people in Western Balkans countries certificates of Bulgarian ancestry, a crucial step to getting citizenship.
The expose of the abuses in issuing certificates by the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad led to dismissals of top officials and recommendations for procedural reforms.
Eurostat said that in 2012, 818 000 people acquired citizenship of a member state of the EU.
This was four per cent higher than in 2011 and six per cent higher than in 2009.
In 2012, the highest naturalisation rates were registered in Hungary (12.8 citizenships
granted per 100 resident foreigners), Sweden (7.8) and Poland (6.6), and the lowest in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (both 0.4), Estonia (0.6) and Austria (0.7).
On average, 2.4 citizenships were granted per 100 resident foreigners in the EU28.
As regards the characteristics of the new citizens in the EU28, the median age of people granted citizenship in 2012 was 31.4 years (compared with 41.6 for the total EU28 population), with more than a third (35.3 per cent) aged less than 25 years and more than half (58.4 per cent) aged 25 to 54, while those aged 55 or over accounted for about six per cent.
For the whole EU28 population as of January 1 2012, the shares were 27.3 per cent, 42.2 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively.
Three quarters of all people given an EU28 citizenship in 2012 became citizens of one of the following six EU countries: the United Kingdom (193 900 people, or 23.7 per cent of all citizenships granted in the EU28 in 2012), Germany (114 600 or 14.0 per cent), France (96 100 or 11.7 per cent), Spain (94 100 or 11.5 per cent), Italy (65 400 or eight per cent) and Sweden (50 200 or 6.1 per cent).
When compared with the total population of each member state, the highest rates of citizenship granted were recorded in Luxembourg (8.7 citizenships granted per 1 000 inhabitants), Ireland (5.5) and Sweden (5.3).
On average, 1.6 citizenships were granted per 1000 inhabitants in the EU28.
In 11 EU countries, more than nine people out of every 10 that acquired citizenship in 2012 were citizens of a non-EU country: Estonia (99.7 per cent), Latvia (99.1 per cent), Lithuania (99.0 per cent), Spain (98.5 per cent), Bulgaria (96.9 per cent), Portugal (96.6 per cent), Greece (95.4 per cent), the United Kingdom (94.5 per cent), Ireland (94.3 per cent), Italy (91.2 per cent) and Denmark (90.8 per cent).
On the contrary, the majority of people that were granted citizenship in 2012 were citizens of another EU28 member state in Luxembourg (86.6 per cent), Hungary (81.1 per cent) and Cyprus (54.4 per cent). At EU level, 86.5 per cent (or 708 000 new citizens) of those granted citizenship were citizens of a non-EU country, and 11.3 per cent (92 000) of another EU28 member state.
In 2012, the largest groups acquiring citizenship of an EU28 member state were citizens of Morocco (59 300 people, of which 53 per cent acquired citizenship of France or Italy), Turkey (53 800, 62 per cent acquired German citizenship), India (36 900, 77 per cent acquired British citizenship), Ecuador (28 900, 94 per cent acquired Spanish citizenship) and Iraq (27 500, 61 per cent acquired Swedish citizenship).
Moroccans, Turks, Indians, Ecuadorians and Iraqis represented together 25 per cent of the total number of people that acquired EU citizenship in 2012.
Romanians (25 200 people) were the largest group of EU citizens acquiring citizenship of another EU member state, followed by Poles (12 800) and Italians (7900).