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Bulgaria busts criminal group smuggling military components to Russia

Bulgarian authorities arrested 12 people for illegally exporting dual-use goods to support the Russian war effort in Ukraine.
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Bulgarian law enforcement agency arrested 12 people for smuggling military components to Russia. Screenshot from a video by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Bulgaria busts criminal group smuggling military components to Russia

On 10 October, Bulgarian law enforcement agencies reported eliminating an organized criminal group that exported dual-use goods to Russia, according to the Bulgarian news media, News.bg.

Law enforcement officers in Bulgaria arrested 12 people: seven Bulgarian citizens, three Russians, a man from Albania, and a man from Belarus. Some were allegedly detained at Bulgaria’s Sofia airport while trying to export military components to Russia.

According to the investigation of the Bulgarian law enforcement agencies, the criminal group had been exporting dual-use goods to Russia since 2021. One of the group members registered a trading company in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv city. The company purchased dual-use goods for a total of four million levs (around two million euros).

According to Bulgaria’s Deputy Prosecutor General, Maria Pavlova, the goods were stored in a residential building and then repackaged for export from Bulgaria through Sofia Airport to Russia, the News.bg reported.

According to the head of the Bulgarian State Agency for National Security, Plamen Tonchev, the purchased dual-use goods were intended for Russian special forces fighting against Ukraine. The illegally exported goods included radios, binoculars, ballistic counters, optical sights, etc.  According to Plamen Tonchev, some of these goods were intended for the Russian Guard and the Russian marines, which actively participated in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union (including Bulgaria as one of its 27 member states) has banned the legal export of dual-use goods to Russia shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The dual-use goods are those that the Russian army can use against Ukraine. Russia is trying to circumvent sanctions and import such goods illegally.

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