Bulgaria expels Russian church cleric, two others, on national security grounds

Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security confirmed on September 21 that a citizen of Russia and two citizens of Belarus had been expelled from the country on its orders on national security grounds.

Media reports identified one of those expelled as Vasian Zmeev, a senior priest at the Russian Church in Sofia.

Reports variously said that the two others expelled were officials at the Russian Church, while others said that one was a cleric and another a correspondent for Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The State Agency for National Security said that the three expelled had been banned from entering Bulgaria for five years. They had been ordered expelled, with revocation of the right of residence, the agency said.

The measures were imposed in connection with their activities directed against the national security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria, the agency said.

Information had been obtained on the actions of the three “related to the implementation of various elements of the Russian Federation’s hybrid strategy for purposefully influencing the socio-political processes in the Republic of Bulgaria in favour of Russian geopolitical interests,” it said.

Reports earlier this week said that Zmeev had been banned from the Republic of North Macedonia for suspected espionage for Russia.

(Photo of the Russian Church in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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