Russia Stops Issuing Tourist Visas for Bulgarian Citizens

Bulgarian National Radio reported on Monday that the Russian Embassy in Sofia will only allow Bulgarian citizens with direct relatives in Russia to travel to the country and has stopped issuing tourist visas for Bulgarians and state media.

After Bulgaria expelled 70 Russian diplomats last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced on Monday, commenting on the incident, that Moscow would respond similarly.

Bulgarian authorities decided on June 28 to expel 70 Russian diplomats and technical personnel, including the Plenipotentiary Minister of Russia Philip Voskresensky, the Consuls General of Russia in Varna, Ruse Vladimir Klimanov, and Andrey Gromov, as well as Yury Makushin, the director of the Russian Cultural and Information Centre.

Calling Bulgaria’s move a completely illegal action, Lavrov stressed that after the expulsion of the diplomats, the Russian Embassy in Sofia cannot operate normally although its staff now counts around 40 people.

The same opinion was also shared by the Russian Ambassador in Sofia, Eleonora Mitrofanova, who proposed closing the embassy and is now waiting for Moscow’s response to her proposal.

For comparison, the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Moscow has only 12 employees.

Lavrov also emphasized that stressed that the decision to make the Russian diplomats’ persona non grata in Bulgaria was not a move decided independently by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, whom he called unequivocally pro-American and ready to fulfill any wish of Washington.

The Russian foreign minister stressed that Washington’s desire is to kill Bulgarians’ historical memory and the historical memory of other peoples in the Balkans, especially the Orthodox.

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