Bulgaria fears new Russian sabotage in its defence industry

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Bulgaria fears new Russian sabotage in its defence industry
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Emilian Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms magnate who survived two Russian assassination attempts, is warning of a sabotage campaign aimed at obstructing vital arms supplies to Ukraine.

Source: Gebrev in a comment to Financial Times

Details: According to him, Russian saboteurs are actively attacking the factories and warehouses of his company EMKO, which produces most of the Bulgarian bullets and Soviet-style tank shells supplied to Kyiv.

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Quote: “The Russian threats [mean] a new set of measures should be undertaken at a national level, as well as the level of the alliance,”  said Gebrev.

Gebrev attributed the failure to apprehend or prosecute any Russian operatives in relation to his poisonings and the explosions at his company’s locations to Moscow’s continued sway over Bulgaria’s government.

“There has been no result whatsoever in any of more than a dozen cases, involving Russian terrorist acts and spy networking in Bulgaria. All the investigations have been either stopped or stalled and none has been brought to court,” he noted.

The arms manufacturer and other sources of the publication in the country’s defence industry argue that Bulgaria remains the main sphere of activity of Russian agents, and infiltration is especially acute in the prosecutor’s office and the country’s security service.

“Russians are very interested in our facilities and the people manning them,” a Bulgarian official, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Financial Times.

At the same time, according to Veselin Ivanov, a spokesman for the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office, the accusations of Russian infiltration are “categorically not true,” and the new leadership is dedicated to changing the organisation.

According to him, the prosecutor’s office documented the criminal activities of GRU agents and brought them to criminal responsibility, but since Russia does not extradite its citizens, Sofia did not have the opportunity to bring them to justice.

Background:

  • In July it was reported that a large-scale fire broke out in a warehouse of the EMKO arms company near the Bulgarian town of Karnobat. The owner suspected that this was a deliberate arson.
  • The fire was the second consecutive case at this facility after ammunition detonated as a result of a fire in another warehouse on 31 July 2022. Since then, an investigation has been ongoing. The prosecutor’s office has not released any official information on the progress of the case.
  • Earlier, Gebrev, who survived an alleged Novichok poisoning in 2015, said he was “100% sure” that Russian operatives were behind the explosion and subsequent fire in July 2022.
  • Gebrev fell into a coma in 2015, and Western authorities and intelligence agencies believe he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok by officers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

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