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Bulgaria issues warrants for 6 Russians accused of arms warehouses' explosions

by Martin Fornusek January 31, 2024 9:46 AM 2 min read
(Getty Images/Nenov)
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The Sofia City Court approved the issuance of European Arrest Warrants for six Russian citizens suspected in connection to four ammunition warehouse explosions in Bulgaria between 2011 and 2020, the Sofia Globe reported on Jan. 30.

The six suspects, whose name was not mentioned, are accused of involvement in the 2011 explosion at Emilian Gebrev's EMCO facility Lovnidol, two successive blasts at the VMZ Sopot facility in Iganovo in 2015, and another one at the Arsenal plant near Muglizh in 2020.

The four cases are examined as part of one general investigation, announced by Bulgarian prosecutors back in April 2021.

The investigation examines the "suspected activity of Bulgarian citizens and their complicity in these criminal acts."

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According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) insider information, three of the accused are also suspects in the poisoning of Emilian Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms magnate whose EMCO warehouse was targeted in the 2011 blast. The suspects in Gerbev's attempted assassination case are Russian nationals known by the names Sergei Pavlov, Georgy Gorshkov, and Sergei Fedotov.

The independent investigative group Bellingcat and the Russian independent outlet The Insider linked Gebrev's attempted poisoning to Russia's military intelligence (GRU) unit 29155, which the investigators also connected to the 2014 ammunition blast in the Czech town of Vrbetice.

The ammunition, stored in Czechia, was to be transported to Gebrev's company and then later supplied to either Ukraine or Syria, reportedly for the Syrian opposition battling the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia.

Last year's investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider also connected Unit 29155 to the Lovnidol explosion in 2011.

In a separate case, two operatives of the GRU unit, Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, were linked to the attempted poisoning of ex-Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, U.K., in 2018.

Denis Sergeev, using the cover name of "Sergei Fedotov," was reportedly involved in the attempted assassinations of both Skripal and Gebrev, Bellingcat said.

Bulgaria’s Soviet stockpiles and large defense industry may be key to Ukraine’s success
Bulgaria has had to walk a fine line, trying to covertly support Ukraine without provoking Russia. The Balkan state has been historically influenced by Moscow. Opinions on Ukraine are split among its 6.7 million people, many of whom buy into Kremlin propaganda. The new coalition government elected…

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