Tsvetan Vassilev's partner charged with espionage
Nikolai Malinov has been released on bail, General Reshetnikov barred from entering Bulgaria for 10 YearsEuropost , Sofia
Russophiles National Movement Chairman Nikolai Malinov has been charged with espionage, and the State Agency for National Security (SANS) has imposed a ten-year ban on retired Russian intelligence General Leonid Reshetnikov's entering Bulgaria, it emerged from a statement by Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov at the Interior Ministry on Tuesday. Malinov has been released on BGN 50,000 bail and is barred from leaving the country.
Tsatsarov specified that prosecutors have gathered evidence that Malinov allegedly placed himself at the service of two foreign organizations having their seats in the Russian Federation: the Double-Headed Eagle Society and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS).
According to Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, Malinov worked in favour of the two organizations for nearly nine years, and during the last three years alone he met with the then RISS Director Leonid Reshetnikov and with Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev.
Searches conducted in recent days yielded a number of documents showing that Malinov carried out tasks for which he and his companies were paid. Malinov received money to provide information about the political situation in Bulgaria and the Balkans, to organize relevant events, and to establish a political party which would campaign for a shift of Bulgaria's geopolitical interests. He was also tasked with setting up an analytical centre and with acquiring the TV channels of the defunct TV7 group.
During the searches, the investigators found a memo, written by Malinov in Russian, describing the need for Bulgaria's geostrategic reorientation to Russia and the measures that must be taken to achieve this. The subject of the memo was the "requisite geopolitical reorientation of Bulgaria, or what we call Project Bulgaria". The document said further that Bulgaria's geopolitical reorientation should be based on Orthodoxy, Slav culture and traditions. Efforts were supposed to focus on five main areas: the activity of the NGO sector, designing and hosting websites, setting up an own TV channel, an analytical centre, and establishing a political party.
Other documents discovered during the searches implied a transfer of participating interests in the Vivacom telecom operator and mention the Russian VTB bank. Targets in agriculture were also noted as being of interest in the document.
The investigation in the case began after a money laundering scheme was dismantled and the SANS Financial Intelligence Directorate subsequently launched a check. It emerged from the data that banker Tsvetan Vassilev and his failed CorpBank were also involved in the case. Examples of this involvement included negotiations between January and March 2015 on transfer of Vivacom assets and actions involving the Dunarit and Avionams defence-industry plants.
Malinov wrote in notes that the TV channel deal failed because private enforcement agents and police appeared in the building on the day when the contract was to be signed. Subsequently, the Council for Electronic Media refused to license a new TV channel.
Another name that cropped up in the investigation, again in connection with the planned defence industry deals, was Emco weapons manufacturer owner Emilian Gebrev.
Geshev said that in Russia Malinov met with both Reshetnikov and Malofeev, who gave him assignments and money for their fulfilment and to whom he reported back on his performance. Part of the money came from a Cyprus-registered company of Malofeev.