Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on October 29 that it had handed Russian ambassador Anatoly Makarov a note setting a 24-hour deadline for a Russian diplomat alleged to have committed espionage to leave the country.
A day earlier, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Office said that the first secretary of the Russian embassy had been involved in espionage since September 2018, but it could not proceed against him because he had diplomatic immunity. The same day, the Foreign Ministry told the media that the diplomat had left Bulgaria this past weekend.
The Tuesday statement by the Foreign Ministry said that a meeting had been held on October 25 with Makarov at the Foreign Ministry, at which the actions of the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Agency for National Security were discussed.
An oral request was made to Russia to recall its employee within 72 hours.
“After being informed by the Russian embassy on Monday evening that the diplomat in question had not left the country, the Russian ambassador was invited to a meeting at 10am today at the Foreign Ministry. He was handed a note setting a 24-hour deadline for the Russian diplomat to leave Bulgaria,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The statement by the Prosecutor’s Office on October 28 said that it had been established that since September 2018, for nearly a year, the Russian citizen had been conducting intelligence activities, conducting meetings to conspire with Bulgarian citizens, “including a senior official with access to classified information of the Republic of Bulgaria, the EU and Nato”.
The purpose of the meetings was to obtain, for intelligence purposes, information constituting state secrets, including through proposals for material benefits.
While the person could be charged until Article 104 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, criminal proceedings were suspended because the individual had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, the statement said.