Bulgaria expels two Russian diplomats as part of espionage case. They have been declared persona non grata and must leave the country within 72 hours, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, September 23.
The Foreign Ministry noted that the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has been informed of the decision. Earlier, the Bulgarian prosecutor's office said that the Russians, whose names are not provided, have been engaged in espionage in Bulgaria since 2016. They collected information for Russian military intelligence about plans to modernize the Bulgarian army and the technical suitability of its military equipment. As noted by the prosecutor's office, this information constitutes state and official secrets.
The investigation into the Russians was halted in accordance with the Vienna Convention because the suspects have diplomatic immunity.
In January 2020, Bulgaria expelled the first secretary of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Sofia and an employee of the Russian trade mission, who were suspected of espionage. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow could retaliate, but it was not officially reported that Bulgarian diplomats had been expelled from Russia.
In October 2019, Bulgaria expelled another first secretary of the Russian Embassy on suspicion of espionage. Two months later, Russia expelled a Bulgarian diplomat in response.