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Bulgarian leader asks for irrefutable proof on charges against Russophiles movement head

The man under charges was accused of conspiring with Russia
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev
© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

SOFIA, September 10. /TASS/. Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has asked the republic’s prosecutors to provide "irrefutable facts" regarding the espionage charges against Nikolai Malinov, chairman of the National Movement of Russophiles.

"Espionage in favor of a foreign state is a grave accusation, and if the investigation does not provide irrefutable facts, then distrust will linger that Bulgaria’s government bodies have been engaged in an orchestrated foreign policy scenario," the president’s press service quotes Radev as saying.

"The government’s inability to deal with the serious issues nationwide and its total strategic failure to meet the priorities of our European development have deteriorated into a frantic search for an enemy, both in the past and in the present. This is done so that people continuously fight each other, unable to unite in search of those responsible for today’s problems and failures," the president emphasized.

The head of state also asked for proof that "Bulgarian policy has not become a hostage to intra-party interests."

Espionage charges

During a briefing on Tuesday, Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov accused Nikolai Malinov of espionage.

"The investigation against Nikolai Malinov suspected of espionage is currently ongoing. We think that he has been gathering data on Bulgarian foreign policy, among other things, in the interest of the "Double-Headed Eagle" society and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) based on the territory of Russia," Tsatsarov stated. He added that Malinov had been released from custody on 50,000-lev bail (over $28,000) and had been slapped with a travel ban.

The prosecutor also informed that the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security banned former head of RISS Leonid Reshetnikov from entering Bulgaria for 10 years.

According to deputy prosecutor Ivan Geshev, Malinov’s efforts were allegedly aimed at supporting non-governmental organizations, creating websites and a TV channel that would be used to exercise political influence. "His goal was to sway political life "not visibly" but in a hidden manner," Geshev stated.

Malinov was also accused of plans to acquire a Bulgarian telecommunications operator via funding from a Russian bank in an alleged attempt to influence social and political life in Bulgaria.