Sharp exchanges over Bulgaria’s expulsion of Russian diplomats

There were sharp exchanges in Bulgaria’s National Assembly on June 29 as parliamentary groups reacted to the announcement on Tuesday by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov that 70 Russian diplomats were being expelled from Bulgaria for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.

Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov expressed support for the expulsion, calling it belated but justified.

Ivanov rejected claims that Petkov had taken the decision unilaterally, saying that it had been discussed at a meeting of the governing coalition council on May 18.

ITN parliamentary leader Toshko Yordanov told Nova Televizia: “The truth is that this is Kiril Petkov’s personal decision and it occurred to him while travelling on the train to Ukraine when they were going to Kyiv.”

Asked if Teodora Genchovska – who holds the foreign ministry portfolio in the outgoing government and who was appointed by ITN, the party that earlier quit the governing coalition – was against the decision, Yordanov said: “It is best for her to say it, but I know that Genchovska did not think that this was the right step, because there are certain rules”.

Iskren Mitev, an MP for the Kiril Petkov-Assen Vassilev We Continue the Change (WCC) party, said in a television interview: “There is no way for the Prime Minister to expel anyone from Bulgaria on his own.

“Everyone familiar with the procedure knows that this cannot happen without a signature from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Mitev said.

He said that he was still awaiting a comment from President Roumen Radev. The Russians being expelled had been proven to be spies, Mitev said.

In Parliament, Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of the pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane party – the smallest group in the National Assembly, with 13 MPs in the 240-seat House – described the decision to expel the Russian diplomats as “national betrayal”.

Kostadinov said that the decision had been taken without the sanction of the Cabinet or the National Assembly. He described Petkov’s actions as “dangerous” for Bulgaria and called on the Prosecutor-General to take steps.

Democratic Bulgaria’s Ivanov responded that if anyone should be placed under monitoring, it was the representatives of Vuzrazhdane.

Nastimir Ananiev of WCC said that Kostadinov’s statement “must have been written by Ms (Maria) Zakharova” – a reference to the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry.


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