21 Sep 2023 22:07

Expulsion of Russian Orthodox Church priests from Bulgaria is outrageous and unfriendly act - Russian Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. Sept 21 (Interfax) - The expulsion of Russian Orthodox Church priests from Bulgaria constitutes an action aimed at severing relations between the Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches and the brotherly ties between the countries' peoples, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.

"We are outraged and shocked by what has occurred. It shows once again that the current administration of Bulgaria has definitively taken a path aimed at destroying not only political contacts between [the two] states, but also cultural and humanitarian ties between our peoples. The goal now is to sever the brotherly ties between the peoples of Russia and Bulgaria," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a commentary published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

Priests from the Russian metochion church in Sofia were summoned to the Bulgarian immigration service, where they were ordered to leave Bulgaria within 24 hours "as individuals allegedly posing a threat to its national security," she said.

"We are referring to Archimandrite Vassian, the prior of the Russian Orthodox Church metochion in Sofia, the metochion's secretary Archpriest Yevgeny, and a church employee," Zakharova said.

"There is no logical explanation for this outrageous [and] unfriendly act by the Bulgarian authorities," Zakharova said.

"It is especially blasphemous that this step was taken on the day of the Birth of Our Lady, a holy and pure day for the laity of the Russian Orthodox Church," Zakharova said.

"The old Russian church, which was a place where Russians and Bulgarians prayed together for many years, will now be closed," she said.

"We again emphasize that responsibility for the rapid deterioration of bilateral relations between Russia and Bulgaria rests fully with the Bulgarian side," Zakharova said.