Russia expels two Bulgarian diplomats in ‘mirror’ move for expulsion of Russian diplomats
Bulgaria’s ambassador in Moscow, Atanas Krastin, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on October 12 to be handed a note concerning the declaration of two employees of the Bulgarian embassy in the Russian capital as persona non grata, the Russian ministry said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a media statement that the step was a “mirror” response “to the decision by Bulgarian authorities, motivated by nothing, to expel from the country, in September this year, two deputies of the Russian trade representative in Sofia”.
On September 23, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia announced that Bulgaria had given two Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave the country after it was established that they had sought state secrets about plans to modernise the Bulgarian military and maintain the serviceability of military equipment.
The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office said that after receiving information from the State Agency for National Security, the Special Prosecutor’s Office had instituted pre-trial proceedings under the Penal Code against two foreign citizens who had gathered state secrets to pass them on to a foreign state.
However, the pre-trial proceedings had to be suspended because the two had diplomatic immunity. The Prosecutor’s Office notified the Foreign Ministry, which declared the two persona non grata.
This was the second time in 2020 that Bulgaria expelled Russian diplomats for espionage, and the third time in a year.