Report: 102 applicants submitted false documents in bids for Bulgarian citizenship in 2023

A total of 102 people had presented forged documents to obtain Bulgarian citizenship by origin in 2023, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on February 9.

The Justice Ministry has prepared a total of 11 reports to the Prosecutor-General and the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, the report said.

Since the June 2023 beginning of the term of office of Justice Minister Atanas Slavov, eight reports have been sent regarding 78 people.

In recent years, 3738 files have been taken out for additional checks on the authenticity of documents used to apply for Bulgarian citizenship, via Bulgaria’s consular services abroad to the relevant foreign authorities and to the National Institute of Forensic Science.

Data provided to BNT by the Justice Ministry showed that from January 1 2018 to February 7 2024, a total of 6261 citizens of Russia applied to obtain Bulgarian citizenship, though it was granted to only 1431 applicants.

Citizenship may be acquired if the applicant has Bulgarian origin and/or a parent who has Bulgarian citizenship.

Of people from the former Soviet republics, over these more than six years, the largest number to acquire Bulgarian citizenship were Ukrainians, 8555.

Next were citizens of Moldova, 5966.

A total of 203 people from other former Soviet republics – Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Latvia – also received Bulgarian citizenship.

The Justice Ministry has a Council on Citizenship, in which, in addition to the Deputy Minister of Justice, there are representatives of the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Innovation and Growth, the State Agency for National Security, State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad and State Agency for Refugees.

The Justice Ministry told BNT that the council studies all the documents and evaluates all the evidence and facts as well as the applicant’s answers during an interview.

The Minister of Justice, based on the opinion of the council, makes a proposal to the Vice President, who issues the decree for the acquisition of Bulgarian citizenship.

The council has denied Bulgarian citizenship to many candidates because of false or forged documents certifying Bulgarian origin, the ministry said.

It mandates a number of additional checks to prevent naturalisation using forged documents. These checks are assigned to the National Institute of Forensic Science. The checks are numerous, accounting for 80 per cent of all checks at the institute.

The Council on Citizenship gives an opinion on the applications after receiving written opinions from the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security. These bodies carry out checks on people applying for Bulgarian citizenship by naturalisation to see if there are any circumstances that could be a threat to public order, morals, public health or national security.

The BNT report followed allegations this week that there was a scheme, ongoing for years, by which people from Russia and the former Soviet republics obtained Bulgarian citizenship using false documents.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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