The Bulgarian authorities expelled the head of the Russian Church in the country – Vasian Zmeev. This was reported to TASS by the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria.
“Bulgarian authorities consider Father Vasian to be a threat to national security,” the Russian diplomats said.
According to Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, the priests from the Russian Orthodox Church were called to the migration service, where they were told that they were a threat to national security. Then they were taken to their homes in an arresting car to collect their belongings. Then they will be taken to the church and from there to the border with Serbia, the ambassador announced.
“This is an unprecedented case, the church is separated from the state, and it is incomprehensible how priests can threaten national security. Many parishioners go to the Russian Church in Sofia. Such an event is a fall into the abyss, says Mitrofanova.
“They simply spat in the face of our church,” the Russian ambassador to our country also notes.
The Russian Embassy in our country published a position on the case. It reads:
On September 21 of this year, the Bulgarian authorities took harsh, blatant actions to expel the abbot of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Archimandrite Vasian, and two employees of the Church of “St. Nicholas of Myra, the Wonderworker”.
We are outraged by the fact and form of the decision taken by the Bulgarian side. It is obvious that the current leadership of Bulgaria has set itself the task of destroying not only the socio-political, cultural and humanitarian ties between our countries, but also to break the relations between the sister Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches and to embitter the Russian and Bulgarian peoples against each other .
It is especially telling that this step was taken on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – a holy and pure day for the believers of the Russian Orthodox Church.
We emphasize that the responsibility for the rapid degradation of bilateral interaction rests entirely on the Bulgarian side.
The State Agency “National Security” (DANS) later confirmed that coercive administrative measures of “expulsion”, “deprivation of the right of residence” and “ban on entry into the Republic of Bulgaria” were imposed on three foreign citizens for a period of five years.
The measures are in relation to N. Z. – a citizen of the Russian Federation, E. P. – a citizen of Belarus, V. B. – a citizen of Belarus.
The measures were imposed in connection with their activities directed against the national security and interests of the Republic of Bulgaria, according to the DANS.
Data were obtained on the actions of the mentioned persons related to the implementation of various elements of the Russian Federation’s hybrid strategy for purposefully influencing the socio-political processes in the Republic of Bulgaria in favor of Russian geopolitical interests.
The measures taken are in fulfillment of the powers of the Chairman of the National Security Agency, in accordance with the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria and in fulfillment of the Agency’s functions in accordance with the Law on State Agency “National Security”.
As for the service, there are two other foreign priests currently serving in the Russian Church besides Vasian Zmeev. Archpriest Yevgeny is from Belarus and has been here for 5 years as the titular Zmeev. Archpriest Alexii is quite new in Sofia – for a few months. Liturgies are only in Russian, although Bulgarians also come to the church.
Vassian Zmeev is among the Russian diplomats expelled from North Macedonia last week. He is also a senior cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate who has been living and working in Sofia for several years. Since the end of November last year, he has been unofficially designated by Patriarch Kirill to be in charge of the Macedonian Church, which is obsessed with bishops connected to communism, Titovism and the Yugoslav special services. In addition to I. Khropiachkov, A. Rozhdestvenski, as well as the attache S. Popov, who committed inappropriate diplomatic actions, Vassian Zmeev was also declared persona non grata and was prohibited from entering North Macedonia. The four must leave the country within five days, Religion MK confirms the news.