Police Bust More Than 100 in Bulgaria for Violence in 'Roma Protests' NightCrime | September 27, 2011, Tuesday // 04:12| views
Photo from Sofia Photo Agency
More than 100 people in total have been arrested by the police in several Bulgarian cities after a wave of small-scale but vigorous rallies Monday night.
The protesters rallied against the murder of 19-year-old Angel Petrov in the village of Katunitsa by associates of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro – but also because of the "Roma issue", i.e. what they see as a "privileged situation" of the Roma minority in Bulgaria.
Some 3000 came together in Plovdiv, and another 1000 were in Sofia and Varna, with smaller rallies in several other cities.
The protesters – who included football fan clubs and far-right groups, according to the police – clashed with riot police, gendarmerie and Civic Protection officers in Plovdiv, Sofia, Varna, and Pleven, with attempts being made in some cities to storm Roma-populated quarters.
Meanwhile, Roma population across the country awaited attacks, armed with shovels, axes, sticks, and guns at some spots, if protester accounts are to be trusted.
A brief skirmish between protesters and armed Roma from the Maxuda quarter in Varna was interrupted by the police.
Two police officers were wounded in Sofia during the clashes, Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Kalin Georgiev told Darik Radio overnight.
Georgiev also announced that the youngest detainee was a 12-year-old kid who was busted for throwing stones at the police, and that his parents will be held accountable for his actions.
According to the Chief Secretary, Kostadin Kostadin, deputy chair of the nationalist party VMRO was arrested during the clashes in Varna but was later release because he is a candidate for mayor.
"Females have also been arrested. Most of the detainees are high school students. The detainees are primarily radical extremists or football hooligans," Georgiev claimed, stressing that protest rallies in several cities – including Stara Zagora, Pernik, Vratsa, and Blagoevgrad – went without any clashes.
47 people were arrested in Plovdiv Monday night, another 2 in Burgas, as well as 8 in Pleven, where the police prevented radical extremists from storming a Roma-populated quarter who then tried to enter the nearby village of Bukovlak, which has massive Roma population.
Chief Secretary Kalin Georgiev also revealed that protesters tried to sabotage the actions of the police by making fake calls to emergency numbers 112 and 166 in order to divert police forces and escalate tensions.
"There is increase police presence all over the country. The institutions of the Interior Ministry are uncompromising against any instance of intolerance and any case of violation of the public order," Georgiev declared.
Tensions across major Bulgarian cities grew Monday night as a result of protest rallies across the country, after on Sunday Plovdiv nearly became the center of ethnic clashes between ethnic Bulgarians and ethnic Roma over the weekend, following the murder in the nearby village of Katunitsa of 19-year-old Angel Petrov by associates of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, committed Friday night.
The murder of Angel Petrov, who was deliberately run over by a mini-bus, according to witnesses, led to massive protests of the ethnic Bulgarians in the village of Katunitsa against Rashkov's Roma clan on Saturday, culminating Saturday night into the burning of Rashkov's properties by football hooligans from Plovdiv.
The tensions grew in Plovdiv on Sunday, the day of Petrov's funeral, when the police barely prevented clashes between a protest rally and local Roma in Roma-populated quarters Stolipinovo, Sheker Mahala, and Adzhisan Mahala.
Tensions escalated all over Plovdiv Monday night in spite of the relative calm that appeared to have set earlier on Monday after President Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov visited the city, and community leaders of the local ethnic Roma and ethnic Turks voiced messages for tolerance and ethnic peace.
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