Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 29 June 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Outgoing Bulgarian PM Petkov Expels Russian Diplomats
On June 28, Bulgaria ordered 70 Russian diplomatic staff out of the country, claiming that they have been working against Sofia’s interests. The expulsion is another blow to the Russian spy ring in Bulgaria.
The 70 people affected have been given time until July 3 to leave. Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who last week lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote and stepped down on June 28, said his country was expelling 70 Russian diplomatic staff over espionage concerns. The Bulgarian foreign ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova to inform her of the expulsions. The Russian diplomat was among four people that Petkov blamed for the collapse of his government. The expulsion of Russian diplomats is a gift from the outgoing prime minister. Bulgaria’s coalition government led by Kiril Petkov was ousted in a no-confidence vote after the populist ITN party quit the ruling coalition. Officially, the coalition cabinet has been toppled over disagreements over an agreement with North Macedonia to lift the veto on Skopje’s EU accession talks. There were claims that the party left amid corruption allegations against its leaders. The ITN party called for energy cooperation with Russia even after Gazprom cut off supplies to Bulgaria. The collapse of Bulgaria’s coalition government is good news for Russia. The coalition was indeed bizarre as it consisted of We Continue the Change, an electoral alliance, center-right Democratic Bulgaria, the post-Communist Socialist Party, and the ITN party. The two of them are both pro-Western and pro-American––former prime minister Kiril Petkov is a Harvard graduate––that stood against corruption and Russia. An interim government will be appointed by Rumen Radev, the pro-Russian president of Bulgaria, until a snap election is held. Is Bulgaria’s pro-Russian camp able to reverse Petkov’s decision? Much depends on who wins the snap election, possibly in September. But at least the Russian spy ring got a powerful blow from Bulgaria.
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