Bulgarian authorities have expelled the head of the Russian church in the country over what they say is a “threat to national security,” Russian diplomats told Moscow’s state-run news agency TASS.
Archimandrite Vasian, who headed the Russian Orthodox Church in the country, was on Thursday booted out along with two employees of the St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker church in Sofia, according to a further statement by the Russian embassy in Bulgaria.
“We are outraged by the fact and form of the decision taken by the Bulgarian side,” the embassy said on its Facebook page.
“It is obvious that the current leadership of Bulgaria has set itself the task of destroying not only the socio-political, cultural and humanitarian ties between our countries, but also to break the relations between the sister Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches and to embitter the Russian and Bulgarian peoples against each other,” it added.
POLITICO has contacted the Bulgarian foreign ministry for comment.
In an interview with POLITICO in June, former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, whose reformist alliance is currently the main force in a new government, said Bulgaria had to flush out Moscow-backed agents if it hoped to succeed with ambitious plans to root out organized crime and corruption.