Elections in Bulgaria are influenced by the Russian ambassador

Eleonora Mitrofanova, the Russian ambassador in Sofia, declared that she would vote for Kostadin Kostadinov, the head of the extreme pro-Russian party Vazrazhdane, if she were a citizen of Bulgaria, in defiance of the Vienna Convention, which establishes guidelines for diplomatic and state relations, and which Russia signed in 1986.

In Bulgaria, an EU member that battles with a strong pro-Russian sentiment both in society and in politics, Mitrofanova has long been a contentious voice. Martin Karboski, a veteran journalist and influential figure in Bulgaria, spoke with her.

“If I am a Bulgarian voter, I understand the policy of the leadership, and I understand what is happening, I will probably vote either with ‘I do not support anyone’ or for Kostadin Kostadinov,” said Mitrofanova.

Voters can declare their lack of support for any candidates or parties by choosing the option on the ballot paper that reads, “I do not support anyone.”

Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, which establishes the responsibilities and protocol for diplomatic employees and host nations, may be broken by such remarks. They must “not interfere in the internal affairs of that State,” according to Article 41, Point 1.

When questioned more about her remarks, Mitrofanova went on.

Kostadinov, out of all the ‘opposition’ parties, at least displays a pro-Bulgarian viewpoint, which I like. Mitrofanova continued, “I believe his foreign policy is balanced”.

The position of the Russian ambassador is unique since a foreign diplomat has never before made a direct preference for a politician from Bulgaria.

Vazrazhdane has almost always advocated the Russian side of the conflict since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite the fact that Kostadinov denies supporting pro-Russian positions. The party is currently third in the Bulgarian parliament.

Based on allegations that Kostadinov was a Russian spy, Ukraine evicted him from its territory in March 2022 and issued a 10-year entry restriction on him. “No, I wouldn’t say that he represents Russian interests in Bulgaria,” Mitrofanova responds.

According to Mitrofanova, the Russian embassy does not fund influencers, politicians, or media in Bulgaria since they lack the funds to do so. Lena Borislavova, the head of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s political office, revealed that the Bulgarian secret services knew that Russia was paying public speakers €2,000 per month in the summer of 2022.

“We have never paid any trolls, our financial resources are limited. Everything is directed toward military needs and welfare payments. Nothing like this has happened in our politics or foreign policy. We have no money for Bulgarian trolls, not even journalists,” Mitrofanova said.

Mitrofanova recommended the pro-Russian parties in Bulgaria declare their love for Bulgaria rather than Russia.

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