Bulgaria’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) are torn between remaining a joint US-EU protectorate and gaining more autonomy in the Euro-Atlantic network through their recently strengthened strategic partnership with Russia via TurkStream.
Bulgaria has been rocked by one of its largest international “spy” scandals in recent memory ever since the head of the National Russophile Movement NGO was charged with espionage because of his partnership with two Russian NGOs and desire to actively return his country back to its historic partnership with Russia. The evidence being presented against Nikolai Malinov is a document that he prepared which “outlines the steps needed to be taken to completely overhaul the geopolitical orientation of Bulgaria away from the West towards Russia”, which spooked some of the members of Bulgaria’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who feared that a conspiracy was brewing between his organization, the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Double-Headed Eagle, both of which he’s worked very closely with in the past. Western Mainstream Media has strongly implied that those two aforementioned groups are fronts for Russian intelligence, which feeds into the narrative that Malinov was secretly acting as a “spy”.
The specific content of the document that he authored has yet to be released, but it’s possible that the TurkStream gas pipeline figures into it in some capacity or another seeing as how Bulgaria’s recent agreement to allow this Russian project to transit through its territory en route to the rest of the Balkans and beyond gave a strong boost to bilateral relations between the two countries and repaired the damage that was caused after Sofia submitted to Washington and Brussels’ pressure to make its predecessor project of South Stream an impossibility half a decade ago. The present state of affairs is such that Russian-Bulgarian relations are now better than at any point since that time and finally show promising potential to eventually lead to a strategic partnership, which would enable Bulgaria to receive more autonomy within the Euro-Atlantic system and comparatively lessen the influence that the US and EU exert over it through their joint protectorate over the country. That, however, has predictably excerbated Bulgaria’s “deep state” divisions.
It appears as though the timing of the crackdown on Malinov’s NGO was intended to shift the balance in Bulgaria’s “deep state” against its pragmatic Russian-leaning members who agreed to allow TurkStream to transit their country and in favor of the West’s “agents of influence” who are against this development. President Radev has tried to prevent Russiagate-like hysteria from breaking out in his country by declaring that “irrefutable facts” must be provided to back up the accusations against Malinov and prove that “Bulgarian policy has not become hostage to intra-party interests”, in what’s a clear euphemism signaling his disagreement with this latest “deep state” war that’s more than likely also intended to smear his government for its decision to go ahead with Russia’s TurkStream plans. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Borisov tried to reassure Russia that this scandal isn’t meant to harm bilateral relations or provoke a witch hunt against Bulgarian Russophiles, but he cautioned that the security services “work on specific people and processes”.
Emphasis should be placed on the second part about processes since it can be interpreted to mean that Bulgaria won’t tolerate anyone actively trying to improve its relations with Russia at the expense of the West even if it doesn’t mind ordinary people showing sympathy with its historical partner. This understanding hints at a developing redefinition of what exactly constitutes “espionage” in the 21st century of networked globalization where practically anyone can lobby in their own way to advance political-ideological goals that are dear to them such as what Malinov was attempting to do. The difference between him and a regular Bulgarian Russophile, however, is that he was allegedly coordinating with foreigners to create media outlets and a political party to aid his plans, thus constituting the initiation of a process intended to catalyze real political change and catching the attention of the pro-Western members of his country’s “deep state” who then saw a perfect opportunity to make an example out of him as revenge against their Russian-leaning counterparts for TurkStream.
In the event that TurkStream is officially brought up in the course of this developing “spy” scandal, then it would confirm that Malinov was targeted as part of Bulgaria’s “deep state” war against this game-changing project. That already appears to be the case though judging by the selective standards resorted to in filing charges against him in the first place since pro-Western activists and experts who closely cooperate with the US and the Soros Foundations are conveniently ignored despite their activities over the years far surpassing Malinov’s in scope, scale, and ultimate consequence. There’s also a chance that the most Russophobic members of the US and EU “deep states” might exploit this development in order to push through legislation mandating that all activists and experts interacting with official Russian organizations register with their governments just like so-called “foreign agents” are required to do under FARA on the basis that they too might also be “spies”, which would represent a desperate attempt by them to sabotage the nascent “New Detente”.