Russophiles National Movement Chair Malinov Charged with Espionage, General Reshetnikov Barred from Entering Bulgaria for 10 Years

Russophiles National Movement Chair Malinov Charged with Espionage, General Reshetnikov Barred from Entering Bulgaria for 10 Years


Russophiles National Movement Chair Malinov
Charged with Espionage, General Reshetnikov
Barred from Entering Bulgaria for 10 Years

Sofia, September 10 (BTA) - Russophiles National Movement
Chairman Nikolai Malinov has been charged with espionage, and
the State Agency for National Security (SANS) has imposed a
ten-year ban on retired Russian intelligence General Leonid
Reshetnikov's entering Bulgaria, it emerged from a statement by
Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov at the Interior
Ministry on Tuesday.

Malinov has been released on 50,000 leva bail and is barred from
leaving the country.

Tsatsarov specified that prosecutors have gathered evidence that
Malinov allegedly placed himself at the service of two foreign
organizations having their seats in the Russian Federation: the
Double-Headed Eagle Society and the Russian Institute for
Strategic Studies (RISS).

According to Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, Malinov
worked in favour of the two organizations for nearly nine years,
and during the last three years alone he met with the then RISS
Director Leonid Reshetnikov and with Russian businessman
Konstantin Malofeev.

Searches conducted in recent days yielded a number of documents
showing that Malinov carried out tasks for which he and his
companies were paid. Malinov received money to provide
information about the political situation in Bulgaria and the
Balkans, to organize relevant events, and to establish a
political party which would campaign for a shift of Bulgaria's
geopolitical interests. He was also tasked with setting up an
analytical centre and with acquiring the TV channels of the
defunct TV7 group.

During the searches, the investigators found a memo, written by
Malinov in Russian, describing the need for Bulgaria's
geostrategic reorientation to Russia and the measures that must
be taken to achieve this. The subject of the memo was the
"requisite geopolitical reorientation of Bulgaria, or what we
call Project Bulgaria". The document said further that
Bulgaria's geopolitical reorientation should be based on
Orthodoxy, Slav culture and traditions. Efforts were supposed to
focus on five main areas: the activity of the NGO sector,
designing and hosting websites, setting up an own TV channel, an
analytical centre, and establishing a political party.

Other documents discovered during the searches implied a
transfer of participating interests in the Vivacom telecom
operator and mention the Russian VTB bank. Targets in
agriculture were also noted as being of interest in the

The investigation in the case began after a money laundering
scheme was dismantled and the SANS Financial Intelligence
Directorate subsequently launched a check. It emerged from the
data that banker Tzvetan Vassilev and his failed Corporate
Commercial Bank were also involved in the case. Examples of this
involvement included negotiations between January and March
2015 on transfer of Vivacom assets and actions involving the
Dunarit and Avionams defence-industry plants.

Malinov wrote in notes that the TV channel deal failed because
private enforcement agents and police appeared in the building
on the day when the contract was to be signed. Subsequently, the
Council for Electronic Media refused to license a new TV

Another name that cropped up in the investigation, again in
connection with the planned defence industry deals, was Emco
weapons manufacturer owner Emilian Gebrev.

Geshev said that in Russia Malinov met with both Reshetnikov and
Malofeev, who gave him assignments and money for their
fulfilment and to whom he reported back on his performance. Part
of the money came from a Cyprus-registered company of Malofeev.


"Espionage in favour of a foreign State is an extremely serious
charge, which is why I expect the investigating magistracy to
present incontrovertible facts. Otherwise, a doubt will linger
that Bulgarian institutions are used in a stage-managed domestic
political scenario," Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said
Tuesday, approached by reporters for comment on the espionage
investigation. The head of State said that "the power-holders'
inability to cope with the severe problems in this country and
the Government's total failure in respect of strategic
priorities for Bulgaria's European development degenerates into
a panic-driven search for an enemy, in the past as well as in
the present".

GERB called on political parties and institutions to show restraint regarding the espionage investigation. Speaking at an extraordinary news conference, GERB MP Toma Bikov said that the case against Malinov, who has been charged with espionage, concerns specific persons and is not aimed against organizations and associations. "The fact that certain NGOs, pro-Russian or pro-American, are attacking us, does not mean that our relations with these countries are bad," Bikov said, adding that the relations between Bulgaria and Russia are developing in a positive direction.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) described the arrests and
questioning of Russophiles National Movement representatives as
a provocation. The Socialists' position was presented by BSP
leader Kornelia Ninova during a news conference following a
meeting of the party's Executive Bureau.

"Espionage in favour of a foreign State is one of the most
serious crimes under Chapter 1 of the Penal Code, of course it
must be proven and we will monitor very closely whether and how
this will happen," Ninova said. BSP sees what happened as an
encroachment on freedom of speech and the right to free

"We believe this is being done right now and at this moment, so
that other scandals caused by Cabinet can be covered up, and to
use the case in the election campaign," the Socialists' leader

Nationalist Ataka party leader Volen Siderov said that Malinov's detention "will artificially harden many voters" who will now be outraged by these detentions and interrogations. "We are becoming a pawn in a geopolitical game, which is not good," Siderov said, adding that prerequisites exist for "a diplomatic

Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair
Konstantin Kosachev said in a Facebook post, quoted by the TASS
News Agency: "Extremely alarming news is coming from Bulgaria. A
series of arrests, interrogations and 'espionage' charges of a
group of active supporters of friendly relations with Russia. I
know very well quite a few of them. We will see how things stand
and will resolutely defend them in all respects: diplomatic,
sociopolitical and, if pertinent, legal." RY, IG/LG, ZH


Source: Sofia