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Bulgaria expels Russian propagandist

by Nate Ostiller November 1, 2023 6:37 PM 2 min read
Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) meet at the Ukraine-Balkans summit, Aug. 21, 2023. (President Volodymyr Zelensky/Twitter)
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A Russian citizen working for the Russian state media outlet Rossiyskaya Gazeta was deported from Bulgaria on grounds he was a threat to national security, the country's State Agency for National Security (DANS) reported on Nov. 1.

Alexander Gatsak, an accredited correspondent for the agency, was previously summoned by Bulgaria's Ministry of Internal Affairs, but he declined to appear, instead hiding on the territory of Russia's Embassy in Bulgaria, the agency said.

He left Bulgaria on Nov. 1.

In addition to being expelled from Bulgaria, Gatsak received a ban on entry to the entire European Union.

It is unclear what Gatsak specifically did to earn his expulsion, but the agency said that its actions were "aimed at protecting national security, not at limiting freedom of speech and expression of opinion."

Rossiskaya Gazeta is an official Russian government news outlet, publishing primarily government-related affairs.

There have been concerns in Bulgaria about the influence of Russian propaganda, spread both by Russian and local actors.

Although Bulgaria has provided Ukraine with a variety of aid since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, pro-Russian sentiment has remained prevalent in the country.

Many Bulgarians also support a position of neutrality regarding Russia's war against Ukraine. A poll conducted in October 2022 found that 67.5% of respondents preferred their government take no side in the war.

However, Bulgaria has become increasingly supportive of Ukraine as the war has progressed.

Almost 65% of Bulgarians polled in June 2023 supported Ukraine's accession to the EU, and 64% were in favor of supplying military aid.

Another 66% wanted the government to ban Russian state-owned media.

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