UK to charge five Bulgarian nationals with spying for Russia

Three men and two women to face charges related to alleged offences that took place between August 2020 and February 2023.

Westminster Magistrates' Court
The alleged spies are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on September 26 [File: Carlos Basso/AFP]

Five Bulgarian nationals suspected of spying for Russia for a span of three years will be charged with conspiracy to conduct espionage, UK prosecutors have said.

The three men and two women are accused of “conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state”, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Thursday.

The charges relate to alleged offences that took place between August 2020 and February 2023, British prosecutors added.

The alleged spies were named as Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31, Ivan Stoyanov, 31, and Vanya Gaberova, 29, all Bulgarian nationals who lived in London and Norfolk.

They are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 26.

Three of them – Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova – were charged in February with “possession of false identity documents with improper intention”, the CPS said.

The trio appeared at London’s Old Bailey court in July to face those charges.

“The charges follow an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command,” said the CPS.

Prosecutors warned that in order to conduct a fair trial “it is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings”.

Britain has been seeking to take tougher action on external security threats and potential spies, and in July passed a national security law, aiming at overhauling its means of deterring espionage and foreign interference with new tools and criminal provisions.

At the time, the government labelled Russia as “the most acute threat” to its security.

Last November, Britain’s domestic spy chief said more than 400 suspected Russian spies had been expelled from Europe, striking the “most significant strategic blow” against Moscow in recent history.

British police have previously charged three Russians, who they say are GRU military intelligence officers, with the 2018 attempt to murder former double agent Sergei Skripal with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. Two were charged in 2018 and the third in 2021.

Source: News Agencies