Bulgaria announced the expulsion of two Russian diplomats after the discovery of an alleged espionage network to favor Moscow, at a time of tension between the two countries.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared two diplomats from the Russian embassy in Sofia ‘persona non grata’ and gave them 72 hours to leave the country due to activities incompatible with their diplomatic status “, it can be read in a statement.
The prosecutor’s office had announced on Friday the arrest of six people, including several Defense Ministry executives, accused of providing confidential information to the head of the network, a former intelligence agent.
His wife, of Russian-Bulgarian nationality, “then played the role of an intermediary” with Moscow, according to the same source.
As part of “preliminary investigations, it was established that two citizens of the Russian Federation carried out activities to collect unregulated information,” explained today the prosecutor, who notified the ministry.
The prosecutor’s office also indicated that the suspects could not be charged with espionage because of their diplomatic immunity.
The Russian embassy deplored this expulsion immediately.
“This umpteenth unfounded step by the Bulgarian authorities will not contribute to the development of a constructive dialogue between Russia and Bulgaria. Russia reserves the right to impose retaliatory measures,” he reacted via Facebook.
Moscow had already lamented last week the “tireless attempts” to undermine the Russian-Bulgarian dialogue and to “demonize” Russia.
Bulgaria has traditionally maintained close economic ties with Russia, but since October 2019 several cases of espionage have weakened those ties.
Five Russian diplomats and a technical assistant from the embassy were expelled during that period.
Source: with Agencies