Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev has notified the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that two Russians with diplomatic immunity have been carrying out espionage, the Prosecutor’s Office said on January 24.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said that the Russian ambassador would be summoned to the ministry on Friday and the two diplomats would be declared persona non grata.
The announcement comes less than three months after one of the first secretaries at the Russian embassy in Sofia had to leave the country after being identified as involved in espionage, and after, in September, the head of the Russophile movement in Bulgaria, Nikolai Malinov, was charged with espionage. Malinov denies wrongdoing.
The January 24 statement said that one of the Russian citizens involved in espionage was a first secretary in the consular department at Russia’s embassy. Since 2017, he had been seeking information on mechanisms related to Bulgaria’s electoral process, the prosecutor’s statement said.
The second was on the staff of the Russian trade representation. From October 2018 to date, he had been gathering information in the field of energy and energy security, which he sent to the headquarters of the Russian intelligence service in Moscow.
In order to carry out his illegal activity, he made contact with Bulgarian citizens who had access to information in this field.
The investigation followed reports from the State Agency for National Security. Pre-trial proceedings on espionage charges were initiated. The cases against the two Russians were suspended because of their diplomatic immunity, the prosecutor’s statement said.
Bulgarian National Radio quoted Tass as reporting that Russian ambassador Anatoly Markov said that the Russian diplomatic mission in Sofia had not been officially informed of the allegations.