Bulgarians Honor National Heroes under Strong Police PresenceSociety | June 2, 2011, Thursday // 14:19| views
On June 2, Bulgaria holds traditional celebrations to mark the Day of prominent Bulgarian poet and revolutionary, Hristo Botev (left) and of Those Who Have Perished in the Fight for Bulgaria's Independence. Photo by BGNES
Scores of Bulgarians from all over the country gathered Thursday at the Stara Planina mountain peak "Okoltchtisa" to honor Bulgarian revolutionary Hristo Botev at the site of his troupe's last fight with the Ottoman Turkish army.
On May 31, 1993, the Council of Ministers declared June 2 the Day of prominent Bulgarian poet and revolutionary, Hristo Botev and of Those Who Have Perished in the Fight for Bulgaria's Independence.
The laying of flowers and wreaths was accompanied by unprecedented security measures on the part of the police, aiming at preventing the marring of the ceremony by provocations, the TV channel bTV reports.
The move comes on the heels of several scandals, stirred by the far-right nationalist Ataka party including barging at the commemoration as saints of the victims of Batak massacre by Ottoman forces and a bloody clash with Muslims, praying at a mosque in downtown Sofia.
Two years ago, the entire staff of the police from the nearby northwestern city of Vratsa was mobilized at "Okolchitsa," but they still had a hard time handling Ataka's parallel meeting, headed by party leader, Volen Siderov, when party followers managed to silence the speech of then Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev.
"Mr. Siderov's actions were not at all honorable and suitable for the ceremony and the commemoration of national heroes. We requested from the Mayor to prevent any such actions of any such individuals," Vratsa councilman, Momchil Mladenov, is quoted saying.
The police further stated they would not stop Siderov and his followers to come to "Okolchitsa," but vowed to react to any attempt of violation of public order and of staging party events, banned by the Mayor.
Meanwhile, the absence of nationalists at the traditional march on Botev's troupe footsteps, culminating on June 2, signaled Siderov would not attempt to challenge public opinion at "Okolchitsa" this year.
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