Bulgarian authorities arrested members of a group over suspicions for spying for Russia

Bulgarian authorities arrested members of a group over suspicions for spying for Russia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria welcomes the joint work of the Prosecutor's Office, the State Agency for National Security, the Military Intelligence Service and the Ministry of Interior in revealing another case of gathering of information, which constitutes a state secret and which was aimed to be passed to the Russian Federation.

This is not the first time we have witnessed actions by foreign embassies that are incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and we define these cases as inadmissible, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said in an official press release on March 19.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to act in accordance with the established international practice in identifying such cases.

A group that has allegedly committed serious premeditated crimes against the Republic of Bulgaria is being investigated, said the spokesperson of the Chief Prosecutor Siika Mileva at a briefing today, March 19.

The group has been involved in collecting classified information that is a state secret and making it available to a third country, in this case Russia.

The alleged leader of this group is a former officer of the “Military Intelligence", whom investigators call “The Resident”. So far, six people have been accused.

The other participants in the group are military personnel and hold senior government positions. They gathered classified information. and provided it to “The Resident”

One was an employee of the Defence Ministry, two other are employees of the “Military Intelligence”, the fourth one is a former “Military Intelligence” officer, who is currently the director of the registry for classified information at the Bulgarian Parliament.

The task of “The Resident” was to build an illegal network of agents. He completed his military education in Bulgaria and Russia and worked for Russian military intelligence service, known as GRU. After that he became a lecturer at Bulgaria’s Military Intelligence Service. He recruited people who had access to classified information of Bulgaria, NATO and EC.

The wife of the leader of the group, who has dual Bulgarian and Russian citizenship, also participated in the group.

She enjoyed the trust of Russian diplomats in Bulgaria. She played the role of mediator between “The Resident” and an employee of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bulgaria. Conversations between her and “The Resident” were documented, as well as her visits to the embassy building.

At the briefing today, the Prosecutor’s Office played recordings of telephone conversations in which “The Resident” gave instructions.

They showed photos of employees taking information from their office computer, as well as how the same employees exchange currency at the exchange office and count money at their office. Those who participated were paid for their illegal activities by “The Resident”.

During the operation in which members of the group were arrested, one of the group attempted to escape, but was detained near the Russian embassy in Sofia.

The evidence gathered so far is clear that the group's activities have violated the state's interest, Prosecutor Aleksov told the briefing.

Later in the afternoon, the Russian embassy said in statement on Facebook:

“In the context of the complexity of the international situation, the ‘tireless’ attempts to drive a wedge into the Russian-Bulgarian dialogue and once again demonise our country are obvious.”

"According to the statements during today's briefing of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, the investigation into the persons detained on March 18 this year, accused of espionage in favour of a foreign country, has not been completed yet. We expect that until there is a court ruling on this case, speculations about Russia's alleged involvement in intelligence activities against Bulgaria's interests will cease. We assume that the investigation will be conducted on a depoliticized, impartial and objective basis in strict accordance with the norms of Bulgarian and international law," the embassy added.

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