The Russian Church in Sofia will close its doors. This was announced by the Foreign Ministry of Russia in connection with the expulsion of its head Archimandrite Vasian and two other officials.

“This old Russian church, which for many years has been a place of shared worship for Russians and Bulgarians, will now be closed,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

On Thursday, the State Agency “National Security” announced that coercive administrative measures of “expulsion”, “deprivation of the right of residence” and “ban on entry into Bulgaria” for a period of 5 years were imposed on a total of three foreign citizens.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia explains that on September 21, priests were summoned to the immigration service of Bulgaria. They have been served with a request to leave the country within 24 hours as they are believed to be a threat to national security. These are Archimandrite Vasian, the secretary Archpriest Yevgeny and an employee of the church.

“This extremely hostile act of the Bulgarian authorities contradicts logic”, writes the ministry.

“People who have dedicated their lives to serving God in the name of unity between the Russian and Bulgarian people, based on a common religion and Christian values, were transported like criminals in a vehicle with bars on the windows back to the church by the Bulgarian immigration service, to pack their belongings. They will be deported as violators. They will simply be left at the Serbian border to fend for themselves,” added the Russian Foreign Ministry.

According to them, a “particularly blasphemous dimension” to this situation is added by the fact that the action was taken on a holiday that commemorates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is a holy and pure day for the parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“We are outraged and shocked by what happened. This once again emphasises that the current leadership of Bulgaria is clearly on the path of destroying not only the political contacts between our countries, but also the cultural and humanitarian ties between our peoples. Their current goal seems to be a break in the relations between the sister Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches and the brotherly ties between the Russian and Bulgarian people”, were the words of the Russian ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova quoting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

This old Russian church, which for many years was a place of “shared worship of Russians and Bulgarians“, will now be closed.

“Once again, we emphasize that the responsibility for the rapid deterioration of Russian-Bulgarian relations lies entirely with the Bulgarian side,” concluded the Foreign Ministry.