Russian Diplomat Implicated in Espionage Asked to Leave within 24 Hours
October 29 (BTA) - A Russian diplomat posted in Sofia,
who has been implicated in espionage, has been declared a
persona non grata, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry implied in a
press release on Tuesday.
"After the Russian Embassy notified us on Monday evening that
the diplomat in question had not left the territory of Bulgaria,
the Russian Ambassador was invited to an appointment at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 10 a.m. He was served with a note
giving the Russian diplomat 24 hours to leave Bulgaria," the
press release points out.
On October 25, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry officials met with the
Russian Ambassador in Sofia Anatoly Makarov to discuss the case
among other topics of mutual interest. The Bulgarian side made
a verbal request that the Russian institutions recall their
official within 72 hours.
The diplomat, who is a first secretary at the Russian Embassy in
Sofia, enjoys diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention
on Diplomatic Relations and may not be criminally prosecuted.
The Bulgarian prosecution service said on Monday that, according
to an alert from the State Agency for National Security
confirmed by the Specialized Prosecution Office, since September
2018 the Russian had been holding regular clandestine
rendezvous with Bulgarian citizens, including a high-ranking
official with access to classified information of Bulgaria, the
EU and NATO. The purpose of the contacts had been to obtain
intelligence information constituting state secret in exchange
of material gains for the informants.
The prosecution service did not name the Bulgarian officials who
had been contacted by the Russian diplomat.
According to information of www.mediapool.bg, the First
Secretary concerned is Andrey Egorov.
Reacting to the development, Russian State Duma Committee on
International Affairs Deputy Chairman Dmitry Novikov said on
State-financed Radio Sputnik that "Bulgaria is subservient to
all tendencies, dogmas and myths that are taking shape in Europe
in respect of the Russian Federation. In this respect, the
Bulgarian authorities are therefore ready to show some
'all-European solidarity', which finds expression in support for
all types of economic sanctions as well as measures of
political and economic impact."
In September 2019, Atlantic Club of Bulgaria President and
former foreign minister Solomon Passy said in a bTV interview
that there were some 68 Russian spies in Bulgaria at the Russian
Embassy alone and several hundred others, whose names are
known. Passy spoke amidst a spy scandal in which Bulgaria's
Russophiles National Movement Chairman Nikolai Malinov was
charged with espionage in a suspected plot to further Russia's
interests in Bulgaria and retired Russian external intelligence
general Leonid Reshetnikov and Russian businessman Konstantin
Malofeev were barred from entering Bulgaria for ten years.
Bulgaria is expelling a Russian diplomat in connection with
espionage for the first time in 18 years. Back in 2001, three
Russian diplomats, including Military Attache Viktor Lomakhin,
were asked to leave the country after a former Bulgarian
military intelligence official was arrested while preparing to
deliver to the Russian Embassy top secret information on the
situation in the Balkans. LG