Bulgaria opens investigation against pro

The Sofia prosecutor’s office on Friday (December 16) ordered the country’s counterintelligence agency to open an investigation into the activities of the pro-Russian paramilitary organization BNO Shipka, following a report that the organization would have committed crimes against the Republic.

BNO Shipka, as well as BND Shipka, became particularly active in Bulgaria following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In addition to openly announcing their intention to upset the country’s constitutional order, the latter also organized a hunt for Syrian immigrants in the mountain range of Strandja during the first refugee crisis, and actively spread disinformation to the time of the pandemic.

“We protect the interests of our European and Euro-Atlantic partners. We cannot allow malevolent Russian influence in Bulgaria”said the prosecutor Chief Ivan Geshev. However, his services assured that more information would be provided once the investigation is completed.

A person with the pseudonym Lieutenant Walter Kalashnikov presents himself as the head of these organizations. His real name is Doncho Rusev, but he also goes by his church name Vladimir. According to public information, he was born in 1959 in the village of Bulgarovo in Burgas, graduated from a sergeant school in Shumen and served until 1981 as a sergeant in the tank division in Aytos. He was fired for incapacity, after which he became a novice at Rila Monastery. In 1989, he appeared at the “Holy Prophet Ilia” monastery near the village of Velchevo, as the only monk present at that time.

In 1996, Mr. Rusev appears as the owner of the security company Walter Catani. The organization boasts of having “summoned” in Bulgaria a meeting of the leaders of a global security trust with the participation of former officers of the Mossad, the KGB and the CIA, reports Top News.

Mr. Rusev also owns a number of other business ventures, such as a newspaper, a sex shop and others, which have failed. He has also become an investment adviser through a Facebook page called “Bulgaria and Russia — One History, One Language, One Faith, One People”. This same page is also among the main platforms through which the populist pro-Russian Bulgarian party Renaissance (Vazrazhdane) broadcasts its campaign messages and advertisements. Mr. Rusev notably posted videos recommending his followers to invest in cryptocurrencies.

In the summer of 2016, members of the pro-Russian paramilitary organization participated in the beating of people protesting against the visit of the pro-Putin biker club, the Night Wolves, to Bulgaria.

The prosecutor’s office now claims to have received a tip from a citizen, although the Helsinki Committee of Bulgaria (CHB) provided the public prosecutor’s office in 2016 with publicly available data indicating that the groups’ activities were directed against the republic and that they created secret or paramilitary structures.

BNO Shipka and the Vasil Levski military union were also named in Mr Geshev’s request for dismissal, submitted by Nadezhda Yordanova, then Minister of Justice, in March 2022. The request notably stated that these paramilitary organizations operated and were formed by Russian military instructors in complete peace of mind.

Mr Geshev said on Friday (December 16) that BNO Shipka’s actions were of concern for Bulgarian national security and European interests.

Bulgaria opens investigation against pro-Russian paramilitary organization