Bulgaria’s ambassador in Moscow, Atanas Krastin, was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on December 28 to be handed a note concerning the declaration of Bulgaria’s deputy military attache 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 December this year, to expel the military attache of the Russian embassy in Sofia”.
Bulgaria’s deputy military attache, Lt. Col. Mitko Borissov, was given 72 hours to leave Russia.
On December 18, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said that it gave a Russian diplomat 72 hours to leave the country after it was established that he had sought state secrets about the military, including the number of US personnel deployed in Bulgaria during military exercises.
Russia’s embassy later identified the diplomat in question as its military attache. It was the third time in 2020 that Bulgaria had expelled Russian diplomats for military espionage.
The 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 a foreign national who had gathered state secrets to pass them on to a foreign state.
The investigation found that from 2017 to the present, “yet another” Russian citizen had carried out intelligence activities regarding the Bulgarian military, with the purpose of passing the information on to Russian military intelligence in Moscow.
The person in question had made contact with a Bulgarian citizen who had access to the information, who was promised and delivered money, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
However, the diplomat had immunity under the Vienna Convention from prosecution. The pre-trial proceedings were suspended and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev notified the Foreign Ministry.
(Photo of the Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow: shakko 01)
Source: Russia expels Bulgarian deputy military attache in ‘mirror’ move