A spy network has been established in Bulgaria to collect intelligence on Russia, NATO and the European Union. The group was led by a former high-ranking officer of the Bulgarian Military Intelligence.
Bulgarian police and judiciary arrested six members of the network. A spokesman for the Public Prosecutor stated that some of them had served in the Bulgarian army. It says that espionage activities threaten national security.
According to the allegation, the investigation of the network has “special significance” for the European Union, NATO and the United States. The head of the network was actively looking for his partners who could gain access to the secret services of NATO member states.
Central to the network is the former officer referred to in the investigation as “De Burger”. He worked as a teacher in the training of Bulgarian Military Intelligence and in the past with the Russian intelligence service GROe.
His current partner is a Russian citizen. She is said to have maintained good relations with the Russian embassy in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and regularly passed information and envelopes containing money to Russian diplomats.
Sophia Globe writes that another spy network member runs a classified information catalog for the Bulgarian Parliament.
The six arrested spies were arrested yesterday in a large-scale police operation. Several roads leading to Sofia were blocked when a suspect attempted to flee. He was subsequently arrested near the Russian embassy.
The relationship is under stress
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that Russia may have violated the Vienna Agreement on Diplomatic Relations, as the embassy would be involved in espionage activities. “This is not the first time that we have witnessed this,” the statement said.
Last year, Bulgaria deported a total of five Russian diplomats on charges of espionage. They were looking for plans to modernize and maintain equipment of the Bulgarian army. They cannot be prosecuted due to their diplomatic immunity. It is said that one of them is involved in the now assembled network.
The Balkan country has long been one of Moscow’s main allies in Eastern Europe. Slavic states are culturally close to each other. Bulgaria is also an important transit country for oil and gas from Russia.
The emergence of a spy network comes at a delicate time. Parliamentary elections will be held in Bulgaria within two weeks. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s Christian Democratic Conservatives, accused of corruption, top the polls, but BSP follows. This party wants to end European sanctions against Russia.
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