The Russian spy network operating in Sofia, which Bulgarian authorities broke up last week, has failed to cause serious damage to the security of the Balkan country and its NATO allies, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov announced in an interview with bTV on Wednesday, adding that “everyone who has spied for a foreign country should be punished.”
“It is difficult to say that any important information has been leaked. Part of it was also public,” said Karakachanov, adding that for six months the group of six spies was being surveilled by Bulgarian military intelligence, counterintelligence and the prosecution.
At the end of last week, the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office carried out a resounding operation against an alleged spy network that was exporting military secrets to the Russian embassy. While five of the suspected spies remained in custody, one of them was released on bail because he decided to co-operate in the investigation.
Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev later announced that significant secrets had been revealed that affected the security of Bulgaria, NATO and the EU. Bulgarian authorities mentioned a leak concerning the new modification of the American F-16 block 70 fighters, which the country bought from the US last year.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg – who attended a meeting of NATO foreign ministers’ meeting Wednesday – commented that “Russia is trying to undermine democratic institutions, interfere in domestic politics and strengthen its intelligence.”
“In Bulgaria, we have been observing Russia’s recent behavioural pattern,” said Stoltenberg. “NATO fully supports Bulgaria’s efforts to combat malicious Russian activity,” said the secretary-general as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)