70 Russian diplomats recalled from Bulgaria on charges of espionage

Bulgaria is expelling 70 employees of the Russian embassy who are suspected of espionage. The resigned Prime Minister Kirill Petkov told reporters about this on the sidelines of the National Assembly, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency reports . According to unofficial data cited by the Dnevnik publication, the Russian embassy in the country employs about 150 people in total - that is, about half of its employees are subject to expulsion.

“I want to tell all foreign countries, not only Russia, that all those who work against the interests of Bulgaria will be recalled to return to the country from which they came,” said the former head of government.

He did not disclose the names of the employees, as well as the details of the charges: this is confidential information.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Bulgaria informed the Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova about this decision. The department told her that the Bulgarian side had decided to "reduce the number of employees of Russian representative offices in the Republic of Bulgaria to a limit not exceeding the number of employees of Bulgarian representative offices in the Russian Federation." The number of employees of Russian representative offices in the country thus cannot exceed 23 administrative and technical employees and 25 diplomatic ones.

“The staff of foreign missions should be kept within reasonable and normal limits, given the current state of bilateral relations,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains the reasons for the expulsion of embassy employees by “the activities of Russian officials,” which is classified “as a threat to national security.” The agency also expects Russia to close its representative office in Ruse and Bulgaria in Yekaterinburg.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Insider that the department had been informed of the decision of the Bulgarian side.

On June 22, the Bulgarian Parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the government of Kirill Petkov. It has retired in its entirety. Petkov accused three local politicians and the Russian ambassador Mitrofanova of "overthrowing" his government. Petkov said that while in power, he defended the interests of the country, and "the penetration of Russian interests" became possible due to the activities of the opposition Renaissance party.

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