Espionage allegations: Bulgarian PM denies ties with Russia have deteriorated

Written by on September 18, 2019 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Espionage allegations: Bulgarian PM denies ties with Russia have deteriorated

Relations between Bulgaria and Russia have not deteriorated, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on September 18, eight days after an official announcement that the head of the country’s Russophile Movement had been charged with espionage for Russia.

Borissov, speaking after a meeting with Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, said that taking into account both historical and friendly relations and good and bad over the years, Bulgaria and Russia currently have pragmatic, accurate and correct relations of mutual benefit for each of the countries.

“There was never any idea of ruining our relations with Russia, nor theirs with Bulgaria,” Borissov said.

He said that the construction of “Balkan Stream”, starting on September 19, was very positive and that Bulgaria and Russia were acting together on this topic.

On September 10, it was announced that the head of the Russophile National Movement in Bulgaria, Nikolai Malinov, had been accused of espionage and former KGB general Leonid Reshetnikov – a figure close to Vladimir Putin – had been banned from entering Bulgaria for 10 years. Malinov denies wrongdoing.

The following day, it was announced that the head of Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security had imposed a 10-year ban on Russian billionaire Konstantin Malofeev entering the country.

Reshetnikov and Malofeev had both been named in the investigation into Malinov.

On September 13, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Russia was “concerned” by the charges pressed against the chairperson of the non-governmental organisation Russophiles in Bulgaria, Nikolai Malinov.

Borissov said that he had met the Russian ambassador, who had told him that the name of his boss was (Foreign Minister) Sergey Lavrov, not Reshetnikov or Malofeev.

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