By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - Bulgarian authorities on Thursday charged three Russian nationals with the attempted murder of the owner of a Bulgarian arms factory and two other people.

The three unnamed Russians are accused of having attempted to kill the victims “in a way endangering the lives of many,” the chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The alleged assailants are suspected of using a phosphorus-like substance to poison Emilian Gebrev, his son and a company employee in 2015. The three victims fell ill at the time of the poisoning but recovered soon after.

Prosecutors have issued European arrest warrants for the three Russian citizens and are working closely on the case with the FBI and British authorities.

The investigation into the Gebrev poisoning was reopened at the end of 2018 because of suspicions that the substance used in Bulgaria was similar to that in the poison attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury that same year.

Bulgarian investigators have established that Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Fedotov, who was involved in the Skripal poisoning, visited Bulgaria on three occasions in 2015.

Gebrev has been involved in arms production and trade for several decades. According to media reports, arms produced in his factory have been exported to Ukraine.

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