Bulgaria opens investigation into pro-Russian paramilitary groups

prosecutor office bulgaria

Prosecutor's Office of Republic of Bulgaria/ Source: Sprotyv.info 

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European Pravda reports, citing Euractiv, that following a tip that pro-Russian paramilitary groups had committed crimes against the country, Sofia’s Prosecutor’s Office instructed the country’s counterintelligence agency to investigate the activities of the alleged groups.

The prosecutor’s office now claims it received a tip from a citizen. However, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) previously provided the state prosecution with publicly available data. It gave evidence of the formation of secret or paramilitary structures in 2016.

Two Bulgarian-registered NGOs, BNO Shipka and BND Shipka are under the authority’s scrutiny. It is due to their ties to a so-called military union, Levski. Additionally, they have experienced increased activity in Bulgaria following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.

According to Bellingcat research, the two groups are believed to offer specialized training to volunteers from Russian ex-special ops instructors to promote anti-EU and anti-NATO propaganda. They are also considered to promote the rhetoric of revolting against an illegitimate government, banning political parties, and sweeping racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

During the first refugee crisis, these groups also organized a hunt for Syrian immigrants on the Strandja mountain. Additionally, they actively spread fake news during the pandemic.

“We safeguard the interests of our Euro-Atlantic and European allies. We cannot permit nefarious Russian influence in Bulgaria,” said Chief Public Prosecutor Ivan Geshev.

Bulgaria’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s office promised to provide additional information once the investigation is concluded.

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