Bulgarian military arrested for espionage in favor of Russia

The article was published in Sega. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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SOFIA, (BM) – For the first time in the new Bulgarian history, a spy group of active military and senior government officials who spied for Russia benefit was captured.

The prosecutor’s office boasted about this at a special briefing, at which Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev appeared in person. He called the revelations unprecedented in his characteristic style, an event that has not happened since 1944. He thanked SANS (State Agency of National Security) and military intelligence and the Minister of Defense Krassimir Karakachanov, and the Military Information Service Velko Atanasov.

The group, which includes active military personnel, has set up an intelligence network, said Prosecutor General’s spokeswoman Mrs. Siika Mileva. Currently, a total of 6 people had charged, 5 of whom are in custody. The head is a former senior Bulgarian military intelligence officer who graduated from a school in Moscow years ago. He is now a lecturer, including in operational disciplines in military intelligence.

The prosecution calls him a Resident. His main task was to build an illegal intelligence network. He recruited individuals who had access to classified information from Bulgaria, NATO, and the EU. The Resident’s wife, who also has Bulgarian and Russian citizenship, also took part in the spy group. According to the state prosecution, she was an intermediary between the Resident and an employee of the Russian embassy in Bulgaria, passing information and money. Mileva released footage of conversations between the Resident and his wife and a video in which she visited the Russian embassy.

Who are the other members of the spy group?

The group also includes senior officials from the Ministry of Defense’s system, responsible for the ministry’s budget, and two Military Intelligence officers – one collecting information on countering hybrid threats and risks, including from Russia, the other a participant. In the Bulgarian military contingents abroad.

A former Military Intelligence Officer has been seconded abroad as Secretary, Military Attaché and Defense Attaché and is now Director of the Classified Information Registry of the National Assembly.

How did the group work?

Prosecutor General’s spokeswoman Siyka Mileva clarified that the Resident had regularly held secret meetings with the group participants during dinners in restaurants, sports pieces of training, public places, or his car. “The meetings were held every month on a pre-agreed date, time and place, and reserve dates and places were agreed,” she said. The Resident paid for the information in a different currency.

Prosecutors showed audio and video recordings of the group. In one video, one of the detainees captures classified information on his computer screen – high-tech military secrets, Mileva explained. The Resident provided the whole group with special telephones and memory cards, on which no archive of communication is kept. Another recording from an exchange office shows a person counting dollars in an office. Several audio recordings were released between members of the group.

“The group of these six people has seriously violated the national interest,” said the head of the military appellate prosecutor’s office, Elin Aleksov. One of the participants managed to escape arrest but was later detained near the Russian embassy.

The reaction of the Prosecutor General and the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry

Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev “warmed up” the case on Twitter. “Congratulations to the colleagues who work to protect the interests of Bulgaria!” He wrote. And he quoted a gene. Ivan Kolev from September 1916 “Cavalrymen, God is my witness that I am grateful to Russia for freeing us. But what are the Cossacks looking for now in our Dobrogea? We will beat and drive them away like any enemy that hinders the unification of Bulgaria!”

The Foreign Ministry also welcomed the operation with a unique position, although no diplomats were involved.

There were signals for the planned massive operation

As early as Thursday, it became clear that this was a prepared and massive operation of the special services. During the day at the exits of Sofia, police stopped and checked all cars, especially on the Trakia highway in the direction of Plovdiv. The code Typhoon was activated during the operation. This code means a complete blockade of the city and the surrounding areas, in which it is assumed that the wanted person may escape.

Bulgaria has been particularly active in the pursuit of Russian spies over the past two years. She has already expelled 6 Russian diplomats. The first case came just days after then-Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, his then-deputy and current chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev, and the heads of SANS, foreign policy, and military intelligence visited the United States.

They were received at a relatively high level, including in the White House. After the meeting, Free Europe said, citing its sources, that prosecutors and special services had discussed the Russophile spy scandal and its chairman, Nikolai Malinov.

Last year, Bulgaria expelled a Russian spy

The latest case is from December last year, when the embassy’s military attache, Vasily Sazanovich, was expelled for gathering information about the US military in Bulgaria. The prosecution was a scenario – first, the prosecutor’s office released a report of revealed espionage, then the Foreign Ministry declared the person’s persona non grata.

“Putin knows me well, and he knows I don’t give in to pressure, and I didn’t expel Russian diplomats when everyone was persecuting. But when a high-ranking diplomat caught him recruiting my superiors, I immediately parried him! If I send a spy to recruit one of the chiefs of services of President Putin, the persecution will be a minor punishment for him “, commented in one of the cases the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

The United States usually supports the actions of the Bulgarian services on this topic with official positions.

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