19 foreign citizens in our country were involved in terrorist activity, counterintelligence reported
The National Security Agency (DANS) has finally opened up about Russian espionage in Bulgaria, it is clear from its annual report for 2021, approved by the Council of Ministers. It noted that the Russian Federation had mobilized “a complex toolkit, including diplomacy, military power, special services, economic leverage and dependencies (mainly in the energy sphere), information propaganda and disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks,” with the campaign targeting against the eastward expansion of NATO and the preservation of Russian influence in neighboring countries.
Such findings in the DANS report are surprising, since in the past years our counterintelligence did not pay attention to the threats from Russia against our national security and Bulgarian citizens. An example of this is the “Bulgarian Novichok”, which happened in 2015. Then the arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, his son Hristo and the production director of “EMKO” Valentin Tahchiev were poisoned. After years of investigation and assistance from British intelligence, it was established that the Russian military intelligence agency GRU was behind the attack with a chemical warfare agent. In the same way, DANS remained blind over the years to the numerous explosions in Bulgarian military warehouses, which were subsequently again linked by the prosecutor’s office to Russian intelligence.
Now, in its latest report, DANS boasts of the group of five ex-military men who were found to have spied for the State Prosecution, revealed in early 2021. In addition, the activities of Russian citizens sympathetic to the Russian special services were stopped on the territory of Bulgaria, as a result of which a Russian diplomat was expelled from the country.
“Bulgaria is the object of systematic intelligence interest, aimed at our commitments in the EU and NATO, the modernization of the Bulgarian army, the economy and domestic politics, especially because of the series of parliamentary elections last year. There are attempts to influence and impact in state, military, educational and religious institutions, the media, the non-governmental sector,” counterintelligence reports.
In 2021, no data was received on the preparation of a terrorist attack on our territory or against our interests outside the borders of the country, as well as on the provision of logistical support to terrorist fighters for the preparation of an attack. However, there is a potential threat from terrorist activity in our country, reports DANS.
In 2021, 2 specialized operations were carried out together with the Border Police General Directorate, during which 2 persons related to terrorist activities were detained upon entering Bulgaria from Turkey. One is a Bulgarian citizen who left the country with the intention of fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. The other is a Belgian citizen of Moroccan origin, wanted in connection with a 20-year “imprisonment” sentence imposed on him in Belgium for terrorism.
In 2021, by orders of the chairman of the National Security Agency, 19 foreign citizens were subjected to coercive administrative measures for complicity in terrorist activity. With the same motives and after the relevant actions for verification and analysis, 193 persons were included in the information array of unwanted foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria, the report of the National Tax Service also states.