Russia expels Bulgarian diplomat in tit-for-tat over espionage row

Written by on December 5, 2019 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Russia expels Bulgarian diplomat in tit-for-tat over espionage row

Bulgaria’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned on December 5 to the Russian Foreign Ministry to be handed a note declaring a Bulgarian diplomat persona non grata, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Bulgarian diplomat, as yet not publicly identified, who has been given 24 hours to leave Russia holds a rank equivalent to that of a Russian diplomat expelled from Bulgaria at the end of October 2019. The Russian diplomat, one of the first secretaries in the embassy in Sofia, was expelled because of alleged espionage.

The note expelling the Bulgarian diplomat referred to the principle of reciprocity, the Foreign Ministry said.

A brief note on the expulsion posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on December 5 said that the declaration of the Bulgarian diplomat as persona non grata was a “mirror measure” to the October expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Bulgaria.

On November 1, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that it was “an honour” that to that day, Russia had not retaliated by expelling a Bulgarian diplomat.

Saying at the time that it was an “honour” that Russia had not responded reciprocally, Borissov said: “President Putin knows me well. He knows that I never succumb to pressure”.

Borissov said that the expelled Russian diplomat, earlier identified by the Prosecutor’s Office as one of the first secretaries at the Russian embassy in Sofia, had been trying to recruit a head of a Bulgarian special service who has access to classified information.

(Photo of the Russian Foreign Ministry building: Sailko)

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