site.btaSofia City Hall, Foreign Ministry Both Deny Having Okayed Russian Embassy's Floral Tribute Event

Sofia City Hall, Foreign Ministry Both Deny Having Okayed Russian Embassy's Floral Tribute Event
Sofia City Hall, Foreign Ministry Both Deny Having Okayed Russian Embassy's Floral Tribute Event
Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova lays a wreath at the Soviet Soldiers Ossuary in Lozenets, Sofia, February 22, 2024 (Photo: Russian Embassy Facebook profile)

Sofia City Hall and the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday both denied responsibility for a floral tribute event organized by the Russian Embassy.

 "On the occasion of the Defender of the Fatherland Day, Russia's Ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora V. Mitrofanova and Embassy staff, together representatives of the diplomatic corps and members of the public, paid floral tribute at the ossuary of the Soviet warriors in Sofia's Lozenets Borough," the Russian Embassy said on Facebook on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, a protest was staged in front of Sofia City Hall against what the protesters assumed was authorization granted by Mayor Vassil Terziev for the Russian Embassy's formal observance at the Memorial Ossuary in Lozenets.

The protesters chanted "Out with Russia from Bulgaria", "Out with Mitrofanova and the Russian agents from Bulgaria", "Russia is evil empire". 

Earlier in the morning, municipal councillors of Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (Save Sofia) also issued a declaration, calling on Terziev "to ban this triumph of death called celebration of the 'Defender of the Fatherland Day' or 'Soviet Army Day'.

Terziev rejected accusations that the local authority had authorized the holding of the ceremony. "I insist that the matter should not be abused for political purposes. If anybody has a problem with this, let them approach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the Mayor told journalists.

Asked why he had not banned the celebration, Terziev explained that he had been asked by the Foreign Ministry to act within his competence, which does not include authorizing or not authorizing the event.

Later on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release that "granting or refusing authorization for holding events organized by other countries' embassies in Bulgaria does not fall within the competences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this particular case, the competent authority is the Mayor of Sofia Municipality or an official empowered by him."

The Ministry explained that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations obliges the diplomatic missions accredited to Bulgaria to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of an even that the mission concern intends to organize so that the competent Bulgarian authorities could be informed to take the relevant safety measures.

For her part, Ambassador Mitrofanova was quoted in media reports as saying that the event had definitely been authorized.  

In previous years, the Defender of the Fatherland Day used to be celebrated at the Soviet Army Monument in central Sofia, but it has now been partially dismantled and is fenced off.

/KK/

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By 00:30 on 21.05.2024 Today`s news

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