Bulgaria expels First Secretary of Russian embassy following espionage allegations

Bulgaria has given the First Secretary of the Russian embassy in Sofia 72 hours to leave the country after the Prosecutor’s Office said that the official had been involved in espionage, according to an April 1 statement by the Foreign Ministry.

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that it had been informed by the Prosecutor-General’s office that the diplomat had “carried out activities in the territory of the country incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”.

Bulgarian National Television said that government spokesperson Lena Borislavova had confirmed that a note had been handed on the evening of April 1 to Russian embassy deputy head of mission Filip Voskresensky giving notice that the official was persona non grata in Bulgaria.

This is the latest expulsion of an official at Russia’s embassy in Sofia since the beginning of Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine, and also the latest in recent years after prosecutors established that Russians operating under the cover of diplomats were spying on Nato and EU member Bulgaria.

On March 18, a few weeks after the start of Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine, Bulgaria declared 10 Russian diplomats persona non grata.

In October 2019, a Russian diplomat was expelled for committing espionage, followed by two more in January 2020, and two more in September 2020 – to which Russia responded by expelling two Bulgarian diplomats in October 2020.

Another Russian diplomat was expelled in December 2020, and another in April 2021. In the latter case, the Kremlin again responded by expelling a Bulgarian diplomat.

On March 2 2022, two Russian diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Bulgaria, following investigations into espionage.

On March 24, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said that Bulgaria’s ambassador in Moscow was being recalled for consultations.

Petkov referred to the convention that when a country recalls its ambassador from a country, that country recalls its ambassador.

However, in spite of a systematic succession of insulting statements by Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, directed against Bulgaria’s people and government, Putin’s Kremlin has not yet responded by recalling Mitrofanova.

(Photo: Bulgarian Foreign Ministry)

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