SOFIA, January 25. /TASS/. Bulgaria’s foreign ministry said it had given 48 hours to leave the country to two Russian embassy staff members, declared personae non gratae earlier on Friday following accusations of espionage.
"As part of its remit, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared one Russian diplomat persona non grata and one technical staff member of the Russian embassy in Sofia - an undesirable [person]. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Makarov was invited to the Foreign Ministry to receive the note. Both [embassy staff members] have been given 48 hours to leave the country," the ministry said.
In its earlier comment, the Russian embassy said that "no evidence confirming their activities incompatible with their status has been furnished." "Russia reserves the right to take tit-for-tat measures," the diplomatic mission said.
The Russian embassy added that Bulgaria’s decision to spread information about diplomats in the public realm before formally notifying the embassy was out of sync with "traditionally constructive relations between the two countries."
Earlier on Friday, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office reported on its website that pre-trial probes involving two Russian diplomats as part of an espionage case had been launched. According to prosecutors, their illegal activities included elections and the energy sector. In accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Bulgaria halted criminal proceedings against two Russian citizens. However, the Prosecutor’s Office claims that there are grounds for indicting them.