site.btaParliament's Presiding Body Hears FM Genchovska, Security Agency Chief over Russian Diplomatic Staff's Expulsion
Outgoing Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska has informed Parliament's Presiding Body about the information her Ministry has received in connection to the expulsion of Russian diplomats. "I have provided precise information about the correspondence we have received, the instructions we have requested from the Council of Ministers - everything is classified," Genchovska said. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister and the head of the State Agency for National Security (SANS), Plamen Tonchev, were summoned by Parliament's Presiding Body in connection with Thursday's Russian note verbale.
"We're awaiting instructions from the Prime Minister as to what we should do from now on," Bulgaria's top diplomat said, adding that an official letter has been sent to Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and there is coordination in place.
""The letters with the [name] lists [of the Russian diplomatic staff to be expelled] have arrived, we have requested instructions from the Council of Ministers, they have told us what to do and we have acted in compliance with the procedure," Genchovska said.
Asked whether there is information that the 70 Russian embassy staffers had worked against Bulgaria's interests, the Foreign Minister said that this is a question for SANS.
"SANS head Tonchev said precisely what happened during the Security Council, which I did not attend," said the outgoing Foreign Minister in response to a question about who made the decision to expulse the Russian diplomats.
Prior to that, the leader of the nationalist Vazrazhdane party, Kostadin Kostadinov, said that Parliament's Presiding Body examined the factual contents of the reports that were presented during the security council held with the Prime Minister. "Amongst our party's ranks, we reached the conclusion that the Prime Minister has used the State's power structures for his own political benefit. For this reason, Vazrazhdane will alert the prosecuting magistracy and demand the immediate investigation of [Prime Minister] Kiril Petkov.
According to There Is Such a People (TISP) Floor Leader Toshko Yordanov, SANS has submitted two lists, the second of which came three days after the first one. There isn't a single report by SANS, there is no decision by the security council, but only verbal orders given by Kiril Petkov, Yordanov said. "The [security] council discussed something completely different - the Foreign Ministry had proposed a reciprocal reduction of the number of the diplomatic corps, because the Russians are more than us, but this is no espionage, this is a different procedure that lasts a month," he said. "Declaring 70 people persona non grate and kicking them out in 72 hours is not what the Foreign Ministry said," Yordanov argued. According to him, the Russian Embassy staffers were not expelled based on the principle of reciprocity, but based on lists drafted by SANS and the Prime Minister's personal request.
Democratic Bulgaria Floor Leader Hristo Ivanov said that Parliament's Presiding Body cannot conduct investigations. "These are very complex processes of administrative and political nature, which were presented in a certain way just now," Ivanov said, adding that various interpretations will be circulated until the big picture becomes clear.