In response to Kostadin Kostadinov’s threat to expel all Ukrainian refugees from Bulgaria if he gains power, the mayors of municipalities in Odesa, Ukraine, wrote in a letter published on Friday that the Bulgarian parliament ought to punish Kostadin Kostadinov, the leader of the Bulgarian pro-Russian party Vazrazhdane.
Bulgaria has welcomed numerous Ukrainians since the start of the conflict in their country; there are currently 50,000 working and residing there permanently. Bulgarians are the fifth-largest minority in Ukraine and largely live in the south, particularly in Bohlrad in Odesa Oblast.
In the letter, the Ukrainian Bulgarians dispute Kostadinov’s assertions that they called for the autonomy of a portion of the Odesa region.
They continued, saying that such actions “directly serve Russia’s imperial aspirations, which use the issue of autonomy to impose its influence and advance territorial claims.”
Based on a signal from the Bulgarian services that Kostadinov was a Russian spy, Ukraine barred Kostadinov from entering Ukrainian territory before the start of the war.
The leaders of the Bulgarian community in Ukraine were equally astounded by Kostadinov’s remarks about Southern Bessarabia, which he described as “an old Bulgarian land with old Bulgarian cities temporarily under Ukrainian administration” and which he believed should be declared autonomous for Bulgarians.
The actions of Kostadinov constitute “gross interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine, support for separatism, and Russian military aggression against Ukraine,” they continued.
“We remind you that only after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, ethnic Bulgarians received all legislative and factual opportunities to preserve their identity, study and develop their language and culture,” the letter reads.
“Children of ethnic Bulgarian origin can learn the Bulgarian language as a native even in the conditions of martial law, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the conditions of constant Russian missile and armed terror,” it also said.
The Ukrainian part of Bessarabia, which is located in the Odesa region close to Romania and Moldova, was referred to as a multicultural territory by the Bessarabian Bulgarians in their letter.
According to their comments, the Gagauz, Moldovans, Lipovans, Albanians, Roma, Germans, Armenians, and other peoples who have coexisted peacefully on this territory for more than 200 years are also offended by the separatist statements made by a representative of the Bulgarian authorities.
“We call on the Bulgarian parliament to condemn the leader of Vazrazhdane party in its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine and to use Ukrainian ethnic Bulgarians as a tool to cover up his dirty political interests,” the letter also reads.
“The ethnic Bulgarians of Ukraine are defending their country and their homes from the aggressor because the Russian occupation brings injustice and oppression to all peoples, except the Russians,” the letter says.