Two Bulgarian politicians were arrested on April 8 after throwing red paint on the sign of the Russian Embassy in the capital Sofia, during an event they streamed live on Facebook.
The two are former journalist Arman Babikyan and lawyer Nikolai Hadzhigenov, who played a leading role in the summer 2020 anti-government protests as part of the Poison Trio, and served as MPs in the 45and and 46and National Assemblies in 2021 as part of the “Get up! Out gangsters! group.
On the Poison Trio’s Facebook page, photos of the event were accompanied by a text: “Every day Putin’s officials must see the blood of the innocent victims of the fascist regime”.
Babikyan posted: “Mitrofanova, think every day about the blood you shed” – a reference to Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova.
Both said that the Russian ambassador should be expelled and that Bulgaria should send military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The event came a day after the Sofia City Council vote naming an alley next to the Russian Embassy “Hero of Ukraine” and naming a square after Boris Nemtsov, the Putin critic who was murdered near the Kremlin in February 2015.
On April 7, thousands surrendered for a peaceful procession in Sofia in solidarity with Ukraine as it faces continued aggression from Russia, including mounting evidence that the Russian military is committing war crimes against civilians in Ukraine.
On April 8, despite calls from part of Bulgaria’s ruling majority to declare Mitrofanova persona non grata for his repeated insults to Bulgarians and the country’s government, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov declared that no such measure type was currently planned.
To declare the Russian ambassador persona non grata would be amounts to severing relationssaid Petkov.
He linked the decision not to deport Mitrofanova to the need to maintain communications with Russia as Bulgaria seeks to resolve the situation of its sailors stranded on a ship in the port of Mariupol.
Petkov said any decision to expel Russian ambassadors should be taken at EU level.
Update: The Sofia district prosecutor’s office said in a statement released around 5:30 p.m. that police reported to them that they had initiated preliminary proceedings against Babikyan and Hadzhigenov, but the prosecutor’s office refused to prosecute the two.
(Photos via the Poison Trio Facebook page)
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