16:55 GMT11 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia will provide a proportional response if Bulgaria expels its diplomats over groundless espionage allegations, senior lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said.

    Earlier on Saturday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that his country is ready to once again declare Russian diplomats personae non-gratae. It came after the national Prosecutor's Office brought espionage charges against six Bulgarian citizens, including servicemen and public servants, for allegedly transferring classified data to a foreign nation. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry later linked the suspects to the Russian Embassy in Sofia.

    "We will respond unequivocally, we will take mirror-like measures in case such a decision is made," Dzhabarov, the first deputy head of the Russian upper chamber's international affairs committee, said.

    According to the lawmaker, the possible expulsion of Russian diplomats would be "an unfriendly act on the part of Bulgaria," given the unfounded nature of the accusations.

    "These are our so-called former allies under the Warsaw Pact [the Soviet-led military alliance], they take turns currying favor with NATO and showing how irreconcilable they are in fighting a ‘Russian threat,’" Dzhabarov added.

    Commenting on the espionage allegations on Friday, the Russian Embassy in Sofia expressed hope for a "depoliticized" trial on the case. It also noted "clear" attempts to drive a wedge between Moscow and Sofia and once again "demonize" Russia against the backdrop of the complicated international situation.

    Bulgaria already expelled a Russian diplomat on suspicion of espionage in December. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry designated several Bulgarian embassy officials as personae non-gratae.

    diplomats, Bulgaria, Russia
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