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Bulgaria Suspends Probe Into Poisoning Linked To Russians

Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev suffered a suspected poisoning in 2015.
Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev suffered a suspected poisoning in 2015.

SOFIA -- Prosecutors in Sofia confirm they’ve “suspended” an investigation into the 2015 poisoning of a Bulgarian arms dealer that had been focusing on three suspected Russian agents.

The suspects include a Russian military intelligence general alleged to have commanded a team accused by Britain in the 2018 Novichok attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The suspension of the Bulgarian investigation comes after German doctors treating Aleksei Navalny in Berlin announced on August 23 that the Russian opposition leader had been poisoned with a substance similar to poison used in attacks against the Skripals and Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev.

Those charged in absentia in the Bulgaria case have been identified as Moscow residents Sergei Fedotov, Sergei Pavlov, and Georgy Gorshkov.

None have been questioned by the Bulgarian investigators.

The Britain-based open-source research group Bellingcat says it has confirmed that Sergei Fedotov is the false identity used by Denis Sergeyev -- a major general from an “elite overseas clandestine-operations” team that is part of Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit 29155.

Siika Mileva, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office in Sofia, told RFE/RL on September 1 that the suspension of the case does not mean the investigation has been terminated. She said it is possible for the investigation to be reopened in the future.

Bulgarian authorities have previously said they believe Gebrev, owner of the Bulgarian weapons firm EMCO Ltd.; his son, Hristo Gebrev; and company manager Valentin Takhchiev were targeted in a poisoning attack "by intoxication with an unidentified phosphorus-organic substance."

Gebrev and the two other victims fell ill after being poisoned in Bulgaria in 2015 but survived.

Gebrev told RFE/RL recently that he has a copy of an August 26 order from the Prosecutor-General's Office to suspend the case.

Gebrev quoted excerpts from the order that he said were "not right." But he did not provide RFE/RL with a copy of the entire document.

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