This was announced on Wednesday, September 23, in a statement by the Bulgarian ministry.
“During the investigation of the pre-trial proceedings, it was established that in the period from 2016 to the present, two citizens of the Russian Federation carried out intelligence activities, trying to obtain information about plans to modernize the Bulgarian army and maintain the technical suitability of the country’s armed forces,” the statement said.
According to the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office, their purpose was to transfer the collected information, which was a state secret and official secret, to the Russian military intelligence in Moscow. In addition, it is emphasized that the Russians have a diplomatic status.
It is also noted that during their espionage activities, the Russians established contacts with Bulgarian citizens who had access to information about the country’s military-industrial complex. According to the ministry, these citizens were provided or promised financial benefits.
In January, the Bulgarian authorities had already declared two other Russian diplomats suspected of espionage persona non grata, and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Yekaterina Zakharieva said the diplomats were likely to be expelled from the country.
Two Russians with diplomatic status fell under suspicion of the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office, but due to their immunity, the criminal case was dropped, as required by the provisions of the Vienna Convention.
According to the prosecutor’s office, one of the Russian citizens was accredited as the first secretary at the consular section of the Russian embassy in Sofia and since 2017 has allegedly been collecting information, in particular, on the mechanisms of the electoral process in Bulgaria.
The second suspect is an employee of the Russian trade mission in Sofia and has allegedly been requesting classified information since 2018, including in the field of energy and energy security in Bulgaria.