Support The Moscow Times!

Bulgaria Rescinds Bulgarian Citizenship of Russian Millionaire Adoniev

Sergei Adoniev (Valery Sharifulin / TASS)

Bulgaria has revoked the Bulgarian citizenship of Russian telecoms millionaire Sergei Adoniev over a 20-year-old fraud conviction in the United States, the justice ministry said on Wednesday.

Eager to join EU's border-check-free Schengen zone, Bulgaria said on Tuesday that it plans to stop letting wealthy foreigners buy citizenship, which allows free movement within the entire European Union in return for investment.

A ministry spokeswoman confirmed a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Adoniev's citizenship had been revoked in May following notification that he "had been convicted in the United States 20 years ago on fraud charges."

Adoniev, 57, co-founded the Russian mobile operator Yota, which he sold to Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s Megafon. He also has a stake in the Russian smartphone maker Yota Devices.

He was ranked by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine as Russia's 147th richest businessman, with an estimated net worth of $700 million, and sponsored one of the candidates in last year's Russian presidential election, Ksenia Sobchak. He was granted a Bulgarian passport in 2008.

Adoniev was not immediately available for comment.

The Bulgarian non-governmental Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF) alerted authorities to Adoniev's conviction last January. It also questioned whether foreigners were being properly vetted before seeking citizenship.

According to ACF, Bulgaria has granted 225 passports to foreigners for special contributions in the past 10 years, 125 of them to Russian citizens.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.