SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgaria summoned Moscow’s ambassador on Friday after two men based at the Russian embassy in Sofia were accused of spying and ordered to leave the country. A Consular First Secretary and an official at Russia’s Trade Representation, both men, collected “state secrets in order to transfer it to a foreign state or organisation,” the Chief Prosecutor’s Office said.
The First Secretary collected information on elections from 2017, while the trade official gathered sensitive information on the Energy Sector and Energy Security from October 2018, they said. The Russian embassy in Sofia in a statement said that the two men had been ordered to leave Bulgaria and would do so.
However it added that “no evidence was presented as proof of (their) activities” and that Russia “reserved the right to reciprocal measures”. “We also consider the decision of the Bulgarian authorities to announce this information publicly before officially notifying the embassy as incompatible with the traditionally constructive spirit of our relations,” the statement added.
In October 2019, Bulgaria expelled another First Secretary at the Russian embassy for gathering classified information on Bulgaria, the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO and EU member refused to expel Russian diplomats over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in March 2018.