Bulgaria: Russia's "Trojan Horse" hit with new spy scandal

Bulgarian prosecutors last week charged six Bulgarians, including several senior officials in the defence ministry and in military intelligence, with espionage.

At least five former or current members of the Bulgarian military were arrested, said Siyka Mileva, spokeswoman for the general prosecutor.

The investigation was of "special significance" for the national security of Bulgaria, the EU, NATO and the United States, general prosecutor Ivan Geshev told the press.

Among those arrested was a former military attache, currently in charge of classified information at Bulgaria's parliament.

Another is a former high-ranking military intelligence officer in the Defence Ministry who was accused of being the head of the spy network, Mileva said.

The officer in question was allegedly trained by the Russian military intelligence and his task was to recruit an "illegal network of agents" made up of people who had access to classified information about Bulgaria, NATO and the European Union.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boris Borissov, himself described "as a valuable asset for the Kremlin," told Russia on Saturday to "stop spying" in his country.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Tweeted his support for Bulgaria.

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Bulgaria, which is is plagued by such events, is often referred to within the EU institutions as Russia's "Trojan horse," a sentiment that pre-dates Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the EU Vladimir Chizhov's 2016 comment “Bulgaria is in a good position to become our special partner, a sort of Trojan horse in the EU.”

Chizhov himself was briefly close to the epi-centre of a significant espionage scandal when his son, Vasily, was expelled from NATO headquarters in Brussels for spying.

At the time, Reuters quoted an unidentified NATO official as saying that the two were expelled over the case of Herman Simm, an Estonian Defence Ministry employee sentenced to more than 12 years in prison in February for passing classified information to Russian intelligence.

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