Too Many Spies

"Ungrateful Bulgaria" in the Eyes of Russian Media

7 July 2020

Bulgaria regularly exposes Russian secret service agents, whilst Russian media write about espionage-mania fuelled by Americans and blame Bulgarians for historical ingratitude.

Tensions in relations between Russia and Bulgaria have risen in recent months. As in the case of the Czech Republic today (and Poland two years ago), this is due to conflict over monuments and memorial sites dedicated to the Red Army. Attempts were made to damage them: in the town of Dobrich, near Plovdiv, and in the Lozenets district in Sofia.

These cases prompted a wider conversation amongst the Bulgarian public on the location of these monuments and their sociocultural significance. And, of course, an important external actor has not been passive in the matter: Russia immediately engaged with these events, framing itself as a victim, as it has in previous instances. At the same time, it seeks to be seen as an arbitrator.

However, as is often the case, these disputes over the past mask the context of current developments. The situation in Bulgaria is no exception.

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Grigorij Mesežnikov

Grigorij Mesežnikov is a political scientist and the President of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) in Slovakia. He has published expert studies on party systems’ development and political aspects of transformation in post-communist societies, illiberal and authoritarian tendencies, populism, nationalism and hybrid threats in various monographs, collections and scholarly journals in Slovakia and other countries.

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