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Placing Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev on Russia’s “wanted” list is an unacceptable “attack on freedom of speech,” acting Bulgarian Prime Minister Galab Donev said Thursday.
“I would like to note that Bulgaria has not been informed through the established channels by the Russian side about the charges against Mr. Grozev,” Donev said as he opened a government meeting. “For us this act is unacceptable, it represents an attack on freedom of speech and an attempt to intimidate a Bulgarian citizen.”
On Monday, Russia placed Grozev, who is the lead Russia investigator at the journalism group Bellingcat, on its “wanted” list, according to Russia’s Interior Ministry. Information published on the ministry’s website said he was “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code,” without specifying the exact article.
Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova has been summoned to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “for an explanation on the case,” Donev said, adding that it will “express official protest” against the search warrant and insist on receiving more information.
After meeting Bulgarian officials Thursday, Mitrofanova told journalists she had no information why Grozev was wanted. She said he is wanted only in Russia and not other countries, according to Bulgarian state broadcaster BNT.
The “Russian ambassador says she doesn’t know why I am on Russia’s ‘Wanted’ list, but that ‘we won’t chase him around the world, and this just means that one more time we are telling him he’s not wanted here,'” Grozev tweeted Thursday. “So.. they ‘want’ me, to tell me they not ‘want’ me?”
After Mitrofanova’s comments to reporters, the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia released a statement.
It said that Moscow had “clarified the situation with H. Grozev, emphasizing that a violation of Russian legislation leads to corresponding legal consequences, independent of the type of activity of the accused/suspect person or his citizenship,” according to BNT.
The embassy also said “it is not about intimidation of the journalist or any threat to his life,” according to the Bulgarian state media outlet.