The Kremlin recruits Bulgarian students, inviting them to participate in projects, to travel and study in Russia, and then, as soon as it is convinced that they are “ideological“, it offers them money. The amounts vary between 1,000 and 2,000 euros per month, claims Petar Tanev from the “Free Russia” association.
This morning, Tanev told Euronews Bulgaria that he was offered to participate in a project related to directing Bulgarian students to study in Russia. He was invited to Crimea by the chairman of the Bulgarian association there – Ivan Abazher.
Petar Tanev is half-Russian and while studying in Moscow, he participated in various projects. There he received the offer from Abazher, but refused because he “respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine“.
According to him, before the war in Ukraine, Russia had a greater espionage capacity because it served with the diplomatic corps in the respective countries. After the war, however, they began to use the resources with the civilians – shadow spies, inactive before the war, but ready to start their activities.
After refusing Ivan Abazher’s offer, Tanev realized that the project had been implemented and that the participating Bulgarian students had been recruited:
“This does not mean that they will immediately become spies, but that they are preparing to adapt to this system, to feel real emotions, to be supporters of Putin’s regime. You cannot become a spy just because you are paid – you also need ideas, yes you need to be an idea guy.”
Tanev told about another similar case. He worked in a student organization – Balkan Club. Tanev stated that the Kremlin and the Ministry of Education “entered it with all their capabilities to make such a scientific project with a propaganda direction“.
“I even remember the exact text of this project, which was financed by the organizations “Росмолодёжь” (Russian Youth) and “Россотрудничество” (Russian Cooperation). It was written there that “young Serbs and Bulgarians do not feel the necessary negative emotions towards the EU and NATO, have no sympathy for the Russian Federation. Both the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Education should work in this direction.”
In the following year, Tanev carefully monitored how enormous capacity is poured into the financing of similar projects in which Bulgarian citizens also participate. However, after he refused to participate, nothing happened to him:
“They just offered me to participate – that’s how it all starts. Of course, they also offer money. You have to be in such conditions that you say to yourself: ‘I won’t have such opportunities if I return to Bulgaria’. The sums are about a thousand, two thousand euros per month. But for a student, this is a very good amount“.
Petar Tanev said that it is important to close the Russian Cultural and Information Center because all the processes for Bulgarians to study in Russia go through it. According to his words, such influence from an unfriendly country, such as Russia, over Bulgarian citizens must be stopped.
In his words, the Kremlin approaches recruitment selectively and that they take action when they see that “the person is ideological.”
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