Moscow’s ambassador to Bulgaria was summoned by the country’s authorities on Friday after two men based at the Russian embassy in Sofia were accused of spying and ordered to leave the country, Bloomberg reports.
According to Bulgaria, the consular first secretary and an official at Russia’s trade representation collected “state secrets in order to transfer it to a foreign state or organization,” the chief prosecutor’s office said.
The first secretary collected information on elections from 2017, while the trade official gathered sensitive information on the energy sector and energy security from October 2018, they said.
The Russian Embassy said the two men will leave Bulgaria but insists that “no evidence confirming their activities incompatible with their status were presented.”
“Russia reserves the right to take tit-for-tat measures,” it says in a statement.
Bulgaria, a loyal Moscow ally during communist times, became a member of NATO in 2004 and joined the European Union in 2007.
The statement said a pre-trial investigation of the two had begun, adding that they could not be charged due to diplomatic immunity.
In a separate case on Thursday, Bulgarian prosecutors announced charges in absentia against three Russians for the attempted murder of a weapons manufacturer, his son, and the production manager of the company.
The Sofia city prosecutor’s office said the three unidentified suspects intentionally attempted to poison the victims “by intoxication with an unidentified phosphorus-organic substance.”