PROSECUTORS FIND LINK BETWEEN FOUR AMMO WAREHOUSE BLASTS IN BULGARIA, SUSPECT RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT, PRESUME AIM AS SABOTAGING AMMO SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE, GEORGIA
28 April 2021
Bulgarian News Agency
The Bulgarian prosecution service has found a connection between four blasts at ammunition depots in Bulgaria between 2011 and 2020, as well as a Russian connection, and suspect that all four explosions were intended to disrupt ammunition supplies to Ukraine and Georgia. At a special news conference in Sofia on Wednesday, the Prosecutor General’s spokesperson, Siika Mileva, said that the four cases were joined and were being probed by the Specialized Prosecution Office.
Ammo depot explosions have come to the limelight after the Czech authorities blamed agents of Russian military intelligence, GRU, for two explosions on their territory in 2014. According to press reports, the presumed purpose was to frustrate defence product deliveries to Ukraine by a Bulgarian arms dealer, Emilian Gebrev, whose company EMCO was using Czechia as a transit point for supplies to Ukraine.
Mileva said the first of four cases mentioned by the Bulgarian prosecution service occurred back in 2011, when an EMCO-owned warehouse near the Lovnidol Village (North Central Bulgaria) was blown up and a considerable amount of ammunition and explosives prepared for export to Georgia was destroyed.
The second and third cases followed in the Iganovo Village (Central Bulgaria) in 2015, when a warehouse holding finished products and an ammunition production facility of VMZ Sopot ordnance exploded, destroying also ammunition owned by EMCO. Later in 2015, a fire at a building destroyed evidence of the Iganovo warehouse blasts case, and investigators believe that this was an arson.
The fourth case occurred in the Town of Muglizh (South Central Bulgaria) in 2020, when a depot with detonating fuses of the Arsenal ordnance plant of Kazanlak exploded.
The prosecution service said that no clear cause of the blasts had been identified and that nobody had been hurt in any of these incidents.
They find a similar M.O. in all explosions, which set them apart from other similar incidents.
First, the explosions were preceded by fires, which are believed to have sought to make people leave the perimeter and the saboteurs could detonate the explosives remotely. Secondly, in all cases the defence supplies were destined for export to Georgia and Ukraine.
The prosecution service and the State Agency for National Security have reason to assume that there is a connection between the blasts in Bulgaria, the 2015 attempt to poison Gebrev, his son and a company official with a nerve agent and what was described as “the perpetration of serious offences in the territory of foreign countries”.
The “serious offences” apparently refer to the ammo blasts in Czechia.
Bulgaria has already charged three Russians, allegedly GRU agents, with Gebrev’s poisoning but, according to Gebrev, the case was put on hold when the authorities failed to apprehend them.
Mileva said on Wednesday that the three are still being wanted.
She added that there is evidence showing that the Russians sought to disrupt military supplies to Georgia and Ukraine.
The spokesperson said further that Bulgarian prosecutors are cooperating with the Czech authorities in establishing a possible connection between the blasts in Bulgaria and those in Czechia in 2014.
Following the prosecutors’ news conference, EMCO released a statement denying some of the facts reported.
In the Lovnidol blast in 2011, there was no fire prior to the explosion, and the ammunitions at the depot were not destined for Georgia or anywhere else. EMCO dismissed this as a “downright lie”, which can easily be proved by the available documents. EMCO also denied any connection with the Iganovo explosion.
“That said, a question arises as to why the prosecution service is trying to mislead the Bulgarian people and the international community by using false facts? What was the Bulgarian prosecution service doing all these years about the blast investigations”? the statement asks.
The company also argues that the prosecution service “is trying to scapegoat EMCO instead of looking for the actual causes and perpetrators of these terrorist acts”. It also suggests that prosecutors may have even been trying to cover up the Russian special services’ operation in Bulgaria for years and asks what the reason for that may possibly be.