Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry has described as impertinent comments by Russia describing as “neo-McCarthyism” the Bulgarian National Assembly’s setting up of a parliamentary committee to investigate Russian and Turkish interference in Bulgarian domestic politics.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the establishment of the Bulgarian parliamentary ad hoc committee as absurd and went on to describe the name of the committee as absurd.
Zakharova allowed herself a lengthy recitation of Russian “intervention” in Bulgarian history, from the Russo-Turkish war that led to Bulgaria’s liberation, to the end of the Second World War when Soviet troops “came to the country by force of arms, to resist fascism and liberate their brothers from evil”.
“It remains, of course, only to wonder, what is the point of once again looking for the notorious ‘long arm of Moscow’ in a country where many generations are grateful to their Russian brothers for its sovereign existence?”
Zakharova said that it was “cynical” for the committee to be set up in the approach to the celebration of the 138th anniversary of the liberation of Bulgaria from “the Ottoman yoke”.
Responding, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bettina Zhoteva said that Bulgaria was a parliamentary democracy in which the National Assembly takes sovereign decisions on the basis of its power and motivated by national interests.
The government in Bulgaria did not permit itself to comment in the same way on decisions by the Russian parliament and did not consider such statements by the government of another country as a manifestation of good taste.
“Such public statements could even be seen as a confirmation of the suspicions on the basis of which the formation of the temporary committee of the National Assembly was proposed,” Zhoteva said.
“In today’s complex international environment characterized by multiple crises, conflicts and challenges, we would expect from the Russian Federation a constructive attitude and contribution to solving the most important international problems, rather than impertinent comments from the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the activities of the supreme legislative body of the Republic of Bulgaria,” she said.
The February 26 exchange between the two foreign ministries came against a background of periodic episodes of comments by Russian officials, against Bulgaria’s President and other senior state officials, that have caused offence in Sofia.
The all-party parliamentary committee was set up to serve two months, to investigate allegations of interference in Bulgarian domestic affairs by Ankara and by Moscow after a dramatic episode in late 2015 in which Lyutvi Mestan was ousted as leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms for taking the side of Turkey in that country’s current dispute with Russia.