Priests of ROC representation church in Sofia expelled from Bulgaria

22 September 2023 10:43
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Archimandrite Vassian with Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria. Photo: tatkovina Archimandrite Vassian with Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria. Photo: tatkovina

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s representation Church of St. Nicholas in Sofia and two other priests were expelled from Bulgaria.

On 21 September 2023, Bulgarian authorities made the decision to deport the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s representation Church of St. Nicholas in Sofia, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev), the secretary of the representation church, Fr Evgeny Pavelchuk, and an employee of St. Nicholas’s Church, reports TASS, citing the words of the Russian ambassador to Bulgaria, Mitrofanova.

She said that the Russian Orthodox priests "were summoned to the migration service, where they were told that they pose a threat to Bulgarian national security and must leave the country today."

"Meanwhile, they were put in a police van and taken to their homes and the church to take their belongings before being taken to the border with Serbia," the ambassador said.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called this incident a "blatantly unfriendly act by the Bulgarian authorities," which "defies any logical explanation".

"We are outraged and shocked by what happened. This once again shows that the current leadership of Bulgaria has firmly embarked on the path of destroying not only political contacts between states but also cultural and humanitarian ties between our peoples. Now the aim is to break relations between the sister Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches and the fraternal ties between the Russian and Bulgarian peoples," said Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She also reported that the "ancient Russian church, which has served as a place of common prayer for Russians and Bulgarians for many years, will now be closed".

Earlier, it was reported that Archimandrite Vassian was denied entry into North Macedonia.

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