European media is reporting that Bulgarian secret services say Russia pays about €2,000 per month to public figures, journalists, and politicians in Bulgaria to spread its propaganda. According to a report by Euractiv:
July 4, 2022 The Bulgarian secret services have data showing that Russia pays about €2000 (BGN 4,000) per month to public figures, journalists, and politicians to spread its propaganda in the country, a government spokesperson and head of the prime minister’s office, Lena Borislavova told Darik radio over the weekend. […] Borislavova explained that the money was given to Bulgarian politicians, famous journalists, analysts, political scientists and other persons appearing in the public media. The Russian state paid them to shape public opinion. “To all of you who spit on the EU and NATO for free, as well as support Putin’s actions in Ukraine, you should know. You are screwed up. Those who inspire you to do so are paid. Monthly,” she added.
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UK media reported in July that Bulgaria, which has in the past had closer ties with Moscow than most EU allies, expelled 70 Russian diplomats over espionage concerns — the largest number from any European nation since the invasion of Ukraine. The Global Influence Operations Report has previously reported that Russia had been accused of either influencing or backing a pro-Russian Bulgarian far-right party called Revival of the Homeland, which entered parliament for the first time in November 2021. Pro-Russian statements by Kostadin Kostadinov, the group’s leader, have been amplified by the foreign ministry of the Russian-occupied “Donetsk People’s Republic.” Kostadinov has been banned from entering Ukraine for ten years over accusations of being a Russian spy.
In May, we reported that the Italian parliament also launched an inquiry to investigate whether some Russian commentators appearing on Italian TV networks could be on Putin’s payroll.