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Bulgaria blocks bank transfer to Russian embassy citing EU sanctions

Kitco News

SOFIA, July 6 (Reuters) - Bulgaria has blocked a bank transfer worth some $890,000 to the Russian embassy because of EU sanctions, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said on Wednesday, several days after Sofia expelled 70 Russian diplomatic staff from the Balkan country.

"There is a bank transfer to the Russian embassy which falls directly under the European Commission sanctions. There are no frozen bank accounts," Vassilev told reporters.

Vassilev said the Russian embassy had sought a derogation because the funds were needed to pay staff salaries. He said the Bulgarian government was currently holding talks with Brussels on whether to waive the sanctions to allow the transfer.

Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member state and once a close ally of Russia, has been roiled by diplomatic tensions after outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov announced the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomatic staff on espionage concerns. read more

Moscow has said it would retaliate in kind, while the Russian ambassador to Sofia has said she would ask the Russian government to close the embassy. read more

The EU and other Western countries have slapped sweeping economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova Editing by Gareth Jones
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