(Davis Center) The latest revelations about the penetration of Bulgaria’s national security bodies by Russian intelligence services have raised a host of troubling security questions for U.S. and NATO policymakers. Can Bulgaria remain a member in good standing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)? That question came to the fore on the 19th of March 2021, when the chief public prosecutor’s office in Bulgaria announced that six people, including five officials in the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense and Bulgarian army, had been arrested on charges of spying for Russian intelligence services.
This was just the latest revelation of Russian espionage in Bulgaria in recent years. In September 2019, Nikolai Malinov, a former member of the Bulgarian parliament who led the so-called Russophiles National Movement, one of several pro-Kremlin groups in Bulgaria sponsored by Moscow, was arrested on charges of espionage and money laundering for Russian “patriotic” organizations. Two months later, while awaiting trial, Malinov traveled to Moscow and received an Order of Friendship award from Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Kremlin ceremony shown on Russian television. The award included a stipend of 2.5 million rubles. In 2020, the Bulgarian government expelled five Russian diplomats and the Russian military attaché on grounds that they were using their posts to “engage in activities incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” a standard way of saying they were engaging in espionage. […]
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