Bulgaria has given two Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave the country after it was established that they had sought state secrets about plans to modernise the Bulgarian military and maintain the serviceability of military equipment, according to statements on September 23 by Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office.
This is the second time in 2020 that Bulgaria has expelled Russian diplomats for military espionage.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that after receiving information from the State Agency for National Security, the Special Prosecutor’s Office had instituted pre-trial proceedings under the Penal Code against two foreign citizens who had gathered state secrets to pass them on to a foreign state.
The investigation found that from 2016 to the present, the two Russian citizens had carried out intelligence activities regarding the Bulgarian military, with the purpose of passing the information on to Russian military intelligence in Moscow.
The two had made contact with Bulgarian citizens who had access to the information and in certain cases, had promised money to Bulgarian citizens, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
However, as diplomats, the two had immunity under the Vienna Convention from prosecution.
The pre-trial proceedings were suspended and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev notified the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had informed the Russian embassy in a formal note that the two diplomats had been declared persona non grata and given 72 hours to leave the country.
The September 2020 announcement of the expulsion of the two Russian diplomats is similar to an announcement made in January 2020 about the expulsion from Bulgaria of two Russian diplomats, also for espionage.
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