Socialist Opponent: Ethnic Clashes Show Ugly Bulgarian Reality

Domestic | September 25, 2011, Sunday // 13:34|  views

The presidential candidate of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, Ivaylo Kalfin, says ethnic clashes in Bulgaria were triggered by the passiveness and ineffectiveness of the institutions. Photo by BGNES

The latest developments in the village of Katunitsa near the second largest city of Plovdiv demonstrate the ugly reality Bulgarian people are forced to live in on a daily basis.

The statement was issued by the presidential candidate of the opposition, left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Ivaylo Kalfin – former Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister and current Member of the European Parliament, who says the police and the justice system are not functioning effectively, people have no protection; there is no political will for enforcing the law and citizens are attempting to solve their problems by taking matters in their own hands.

"The murder of a Bulgarian citizen is a grave crime, whose instigators and perpetrators must by severely punished, while taking justice in one's own hands cannot be tolerated. Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov's words, labeling the events a crime, are unacceptable because these event have been triggered precisely by the passiveness of institutions," the statement reads.

Kalfin is appealing to the government, the police, the prosecutor's office, and the court to calm the situation down by fulfilling their duties and to demonstrate that there is rule of law in Bulgaria. He also demands that Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, appears for a Parliamentary hearing on details of the case and the reasons for the ethnic conflict.

It was announced meanwhile that the deportation of the family of the notorious Roma boss, Kiril Rashkov aka Tsar Kiro, from the village of Katunitsa, will be extremely difficult to realize.

The statement has been made Sunday, during a special press conference in the second largest city of Plovdiv and was addressed to representatives of the initiative committee from the village who are demanding the deportation.

The Head Secretary of the Interior Ministry, Chief Commissar, Kalin Georgiev, who is on the spot and spent the night in Katunitsa, announced earlier Sunday that the driver of the van, which run over and killed 19-year-old Angel Petrov from Katunitsa, has been arrested by the police.

The man had briefly left the country and was detained immediately after his return. He was issued a country-wide search warrant Friday night when a van, transporting Roma from the Stolipinovo district in Plovdiv, ran over the 19-year-old ethnic Bulgarian boy in Katunitsa around 8 pm. The driver, 55, with the initials C.Y., has a long rap sheet.

Tensions in the area began after the grandson of the notorious Roma boss and Katunitsa resident, Kiril Rashkov aka Tsar Kiro, went to the Roma district of Stolipinovo to invite 10-15 people to mark the anniversary of his father and Rashkov son's death. Upon the arrival of three vehicles with Stolipinovo Roma in Katunitsa, a conflict erupted between Tsar Kiro's grandson and a local ethnic Bulgarian, which, allegedly, prompted the Roma driver to run over the 19-year-old boy while the latter was walking his dog. Angel had been dragged by the van for several meters and later died in the hospital.

Minutes after the incident, angry people from the village began to gather. They were able to break the police chain and attack and destroy some of Rashkov's property. One of the houses was set on fire, but was extinguished by firefighters who arrived on the scene.

Five people – two young men from the village and three policemen were injured after another Roma vehicle drove through the crowd.

The tensions escalated further Saturday morning after a meeting with Plovdiv Police Chief Todor Chonov when local ethnic Bulgarians demanded the deportation of Rashkov's family from the village, claiming the authorities have been protecting the criminal clan for years. After the meeting the crowd went to attack the family properties once again – breaking glass and overturning Rashkov's vehicles.

During the turmoil, one of the participants in the attack, 16-year-old Pavel, passed out and was taken to the Plovdiv hospital, where he later died. The boy had been a close friend of Angel Petrov, and underwent a heart transplant several years ago.

127 people were arrested Saturday evening, after football hooligans from Plovdiv, Sofia and Stara Zagora, flocked to the village, storming and setting on fire Tsar Kiro's properties, the press center of the Interior Ministry informed Sunday.

The football hooligans staged the assault late Saturday night, amidst escalating ethnic tensions.

Most of the attackers were wearing masks and wigs. 230 police and gendarmerie officers from Plovdiv, Smolyan, Stara Zagora, and Pazardzhik occupied the entire village of Katunitsa for the night.

Tensions could escalate further on Sunday when the funeral of the murdered 19-year-old Bulgarian boy will take place.

Interethnic tensions have been simmering in Katunitsa for years, with locals complaining of Tsar Kiro and members of his family exercising a self-styled rule over the community, with authorities doing little or nothing to curb it.

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov issued a statement Saturday, calling for non-politicization of the case of interethnic violence.

"I am calling on all parties and politicians to behave seriously and to refrain from provoking political comments and actions, for that would lead to additional tensions," said the Bulgarian PM.

"This is a criminal case and all state officials dealing with it are regarding it as being just that," added Borisov.

Meanwhile, also on Sunday, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, stressed that all politicians in Bulgaria are monitoring the situation closely due to its importance for the ethnic peace. Tsvetanov explained that 29 of the 127 individuals arrested Saturday evening will be tried under the speedy procedure and pointed out the importance of preventive measures the police will undertake to not allow any further incidents and ethnic conflicts.

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Tags: presidential candidate, opposition, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Ivaylo Kalfin, ethnic clashes, Bulgaria, passiveness, institutions, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, CSKA, Stolipinov, Botev Plovdiv, Locomotiv Plovdiv, vandalism, arson, football fans, Angel Petrov, violence, Kiril Rashkov, Tsar Kiro, police, Plovdiv, Katunitsa, Roma, VMRO, Ataka, violence, Roma, Plovdiv, Katunitsa, Kalin Georgiev, Boyko Borisov, arrested, van, Roma, driver, Levski


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