Russia is expelling two Bulgarian diplomats in retaliation for Bulgaria’s “groundless” decision to expel two Russian diplomats in March, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on April 8.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the Chargé d’Affaires of the Bulgarian embassy, Nikolai Trifonov, had been called to the ministry to be presented with a note declaring the two persona non grata.
On March 2, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry announced that it was expelling two Russian diplomats found by prosecutors to have been spying.
This was followed on March 18 by the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, and on April 2, by the expulsion of the First Secretary of the Russian embassy in Sofia, in both cases after investigations established that they had been committing espionage.
Bulgaria expelled a number of Russian embassy staff in 2019, 2020 and 2021, all in connection with spying.
On March 24, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said that the country’s ambassador in Moscow was being recalled to Sofia for consultations.
The Prime Minister signalled that he expected that the Kremlin would retaliate by recalling the Russian ambassador in Sofia, Eleonora Mitrofanova.
Mitrofanova repeatedly has caused offence by insulting Bulgarians and Bulgaria’s government. So far, Moscow has not recalled her.
While one of the partners in Bulgaria’s ruling majority has called for Mitrofanova to be declared persona non grata and expelled, Petkov said on April 8 that this would be tantamount to severing relations.
He indicated that he did not want to take that step, and referred to the sailors stranded on a vessel in the port of Mariupol, saying that he did not want to put their safety at risk.
(Photo of the Russian Foreign Ministry: shakko_1)
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