Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters that the Russian diplomats who had been expelled “worked against our interests."
Bulgaria has ordered 70 Russian diplomatic staff out of the country, claiming that they have been working against Sofia's interests.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Irena Dimitrova summoned Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova on June 28 to inform her of the expulsions, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
The statement said the first reason for the expulsions was "reciprocity” and the second was because Bulgarian authorities have determined that the Russian officials' "activity” is incompatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Prime Minister Kiril Petkov told reporters on the sidelines of a National Assembly session that the diplomats “worked against our interests."
"I want to tell all foreign countries, not only Russia, that all those who work against the interests of Bulgaria will be sent back to the country they came from," Petkov was quoted as saying by state news agency BTA. He declined to give more details about the Russians' activities, saying the information was confidential. "I can say that most of them worked directly for foreign services and their diplomatic role was just a cover," Petkov said. He added that the 70 people affected, who have been given until July 3 to leave, held various official roles in the Russian Embassy but performed uncharacteristic activities for their diplomatic positions. The move is not meant as an aggression against the Russian people, Petkov said. "It's just that when foreign governments try to work and interfere in Bulgaria's internal affairs, we have clear institutions that will counter this type of action. And on Sunday (July 3) we expect a full plane with 70 seats to go back to Moscow," Petkov added. European countries have expelled hundreds of Russian diplomatic staff since Moscow launched its unprovoked war against Ukraine on February 24. Russia has reciprocated by sending home diplomats from numerous EU countries.