Former Defense Minister: UK designating us as a Fifth Column is Not Good for Bulgaria's Image

Politics » DEFENSE | August 16, 2023, Wednesday // 09:00
Bulgaria: Former Defense Minister: UK designating us as a Fifth Column is Not Good for Bulgaria's Image The Russian embassy in Sofia

"It's not good for Bulgaria's image, it's another wrong step when we talk about Bulgaria as a loyal member of the EU and NATO. We should be like other countries. A country like Great Britain points the finger at us: 'Look what you're doing here' - fifth column, almost."

This is how the former Minister of Defense and Internal Affairs Valentin Radev commented on the espionage scandal in Great Britain to BNT. Yesterday, three Bulgarians were arrested in Britain on charges of espionage for Russia as part of a large-scale investigation into a breach in the kingdom's national security.

Today Radev stated that although this is a bad step for the image of Bulgaria, he is optimistic that Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel will be able to control the situation and mitigate the reputational blow to the country. According to him, the most important thing now is for the diplomats to assist in clarifying the case and cleaning up the image of Bulgaria:

"Whatever comes out of this, our foreign minister is very well acquainted with the European institutions, including the work in England. We have an excellent diplomat in the person of Marin Raykov, I hope they will find the balance and everything will be explained in order to clear up our image."

According to him, the arrested Bulgarians were not in high positions and probably did not have access to classified information, but doubts remain about Bulgaria as a reliable partner. Valentin Radev pointed out that one of the arrested Bulgarians was in an expert position - advisor in the energy sector.

The former minister also said that the tension in the Black Sea is growing, but that "people should not worry unnecessarily". According to him, everything is monitored - there is constant information from the Navy, as well as on the website of the Ministry of Defense. "There is no danger, but the risks remain," he added.

"Sky News": The Bulgarians detained in the UK will remain in custody

The three Bulgarians who were arrested in the UK on charges of espionage for Russia most likely acted as a support network. That's what a former British intelligence officer thinks.

According to the British television "Sky News", they remain in custody, and their remand is yet to be reviewed. It is also reported that the Bulgarians are likely to stand trial in January and, if found guilty, could face between 10 and 14 years in prison.

As part of the investigation in February of this year, a total of 5 people were arrested, but the identity of only the three Bulgarians was announced. These are Orlin Rusev, Biser Jambazov and Katrin Ivanova. Together with them, 2 women, aged 32 and 29, were arrested, who were later released.

The group possessed false identity documents - passports, identity cards and other documents for the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and the Czech Republic.

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