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US intel services launch anti-Russia crusade in Eastern Europe, says Moscow

The Foreign Intelligence Service stated that Bulgaria was the epicenter of the 'spy' scandals in the Balkans

MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. US intelligence services have launched a campaign in Eastern Europe to undermine good neighborly relations with Russia, spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Ivanov said on Friday.

"According to the information available, the US special services have launched a large-scale campaign for discrediting political and public figures in Eastern Europe who stand for developing good neighborly relations with Russia. For this purpose, they are mobilizing agents and non-governmental organizations financed by official US agencies," the spokesman commented.

"Bulgaria has become the epicenter of this campaign in the Balkans. It is the place where ‘spy’ scandals are staged regularly with subsequent unfounded expulsions of Russian diplomats," he stressed.

As the latest example of this campaign, the spokesman pointed to the spread of 'fake' news that the main theme of the talks of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum on February 10 was the fate of Bulgarian businessman Vasil Bozhkov allegedly detained in the United Arab Emirates on Bulgaria’s demand on charges of financial crimes.

"It has been found as a result of our probe that this ‘sensational’ news as a prime source came from a representative of Bulgarian special services in one of the countries of the region that [the representative — TASS] is controlled and encouraged by the Americans who are directing his work against Russian interests," the spokesman said.

As the spokesman stressed, "the falsified information on the subject matter of the meeting between Sheikh Mohammed and the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service also pursued the goal of complicating inter-state relations between our countries and cooperation between the UAE and Russian special services."

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Chief Naryshkin paid a visit to the United Arab Emirates on February 11-12. According to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the talks focused solely on international security issues and bilateral cooperation. Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian People’s Assembly Valery Simeonov claimed that the issue of releasing Bozhkov had been allegedly raised at the meeting. Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service dismissed this allegation as ‘fake news’ and ‘a sick imagination.’