MOSCOW, July 1. /TASS/. Bulgaria has not been pursuing an independent policy for quite a long time and its decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats was made under the pressing of external forces, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on Friday.
"I think that one can speak about Bulgaria’s independent foreign policy only with regard to the remote past," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel, commenting on Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s words that Bulgaria had made this decision at the request of external forces.
According to Chizhov, Bulgaria’s support for NATO’s steps and its voting in favor of anti-Russian sanctions also indicates its political dependence. He slammed the decision to expel Russian diplomats as strange and warned against jumping at the conclusion about severing diplomatic relations between Moscow and Sofia.
On Tuesday, Bulgaria’s authorities announced their decision to declare 70 Russian diplomats and technical staff of Russian diplomatic missions personae non grate and expel them from the country. These people and their family members, 200 people in all, are to leave the country until July 3. It means that the work of the Russian embassy and consulates general in Bulgaria is practically stalled.
On Thursday, Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova sent a note to the Bulgarian foreign ministry demanding this decision be cancelled as having "unprecedented, scandalous, absolutely ungrounded and provocative character, which undermines the basis of relations between the two states." She said on Friday that the Bulgarian foreign ministry has ignored her note, and she is looking at raising the issue of the closure of the embassy in Sofia before the Russian government.