« Dozens gathered near the St Nikolay Church, known as the Russian Church, in Sofia, on Sunday, to express discontent with temple’s closure after one Russian and two Belarusian priests were expelled over charges in espionage.
Footage shows demonstrators dance in a round near the church as well as placing flowers and lighting candles in front of the locked temple.
« The temple is not closed. The temple is not something that works as an administration, but it gives faith to the people, » said a Bulgarian Muslim representative Madj Algafari.
According to the Ambassador of Russia to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova, the Bulgarian ambassador in Moscow, Alexander Kristin, will be summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry for a conversation.
Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova confirmed the right for the authorities to expel clerics ‘if there is enough evidence, if there are enough signals in the security services’.
Bulgarian authorities on Thursday expelled the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Archimandrite Vassian Zmeev, who was expelled from Skopje a week earlier over allegations that he was a Russian spy.
It is not known at this stage whether a new patron will be sent to the church, a decision to be taken by the Russian Orthodox Church. »