Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia Gives Bulgarian Diplomat 24 Hours To Leave In Tit-For-Tat Move


Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) awarded Nikolai Malinov, the head of a pro-Russian lobby group in Bulgaria, the Order of Friendship on November 4.

Russia says it is expelling a Bulgarian diplomat five weeks after Sofia declined a visa to the incoming Russian defense attache amid an espionage scandal.

Russian authorities informed Bulgaria's ambassador to Moscow, Atanas Krastin, that the diplomat must leave Russia within the next 24 hours, citing the "principle of reciprocity," the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 5.

Russian media quoted unnamed sources as confirming that the government had declared an unnamed Bulgarian Embassy official as "persona non grata."

On October 30 Bulgaria said it had denied a long-term visa to the incoming defense attache at the Russian Embassy in Sofia, a day after expelling another Russian diplomat on suspicion of spying.

Earlier, Bulgarian prosecutors charged Nikolai Malinov, a former Bulgarian lawmaker and the head of a pro-Russian lobby group in Bulgaria, with money laundering and handing over state secrets to two Russian-based organizations that have close ties to the Kremlin and Russia's secret services.

Malinov, who has denied the accusations, was granted permission to travel to Moscow in early November, where he was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin.

Bulgaria, a loyal Moscow ally during communist times, became a member of NATO in 2004 and joined the European Union in 2007.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, TASS, and RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL

    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 26 languages in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

XS
SM
MD
LG