Bulgaria expels Russian diplomat amid probe of arms depot blasts

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Mohamed Nass – Cairo – Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday told a Russian diplomat to leave the country amid investigations into a series of explosions at Bulgarian arms depots.

It’s the latest move in a growing diplomatic dispute between Russia and Bulgaria, which was once a staunch ally of Moscow in Europe.

It also follows the Czech Republic’s accusations that Russia was behind an arms depot blast in the country in 2014.

What did Bulgaria say?

Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva announced the expulsion following talks with Russia’s ambassador.

In a statement, Zaharieva urged Russia’s full cooperation in Bulgaria’s investigation of the four explosions — as well as a probe into the attempted poisonings of three Bulgarian citizens, including arms trader Emilian Gebrev.

“Bulgaria wants to keep equal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia and that is why it insists on an active and result-orientated cooperation from Russia to shed light on the circumstances around the incidents,” the statement read.

Zaharieva also said Bulgaria reserves the right to take further retaliatory steps.

How did Russia respond?

Shortly after the announcement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would respond to the expulsion, Interfax news agency reported.

The report did not provide further details on how Russia plans to respond.

Russia has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the Bulgarian investigation.

By DW News

IMAGE: The Russian Embassy in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

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