Clashes Erupt in Bulgaria's Blagoevgrad Roma District

Society | September 29, 2011, Thursday // 08:05|  views

Protesters are seen in a minute of silence in memory of the murder victim in the village of Katunitsa before the Bulgarian Parliament Monday night, shortly before clashes with the riot police erupted. Photo by BGNES

Clashes erupted Wednesday into Thursday in the Roma district of the southwestern Bulgarian city of Blagoevgrad, followed by several arrests.

Two Roma have been injured after a fight between the residents of the district and a group of skinheads, leading to tensions in the area, the Bulgarian TV channel bTV reported Thursday morning.

The exits to the district were sealed by the police. The clashes began after participants in what was intended as a peaceful march attacked two Roma who happened to walk nearby. Order in Blagoevgrad has been restored and the city is calm Thursday morning.

There were no incidents during protest rallies in nine cities across the country – the capital Sofia, the Black Sea city of Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Asenovgrad, Montana, Pleven, Plovdiv, Ruse and Sliven, involving a total of about 650 people.

The largest protests were held in the town of Asenovgrad near the second largest city of Plovdiv with 200 participants, where 10 people, including 3 minors, have been arrested. Five of them did not have any ID papers.

The September 23 murder of Bulgarian youngster, Angel Petrov, 19, who was deliberately run over by a minivan, which, according to witnesses, was driven by an associate of notorious Roma boss Kiril Rashkov AKA Tsar Kiro, led to massive protests of the ethnic Bulgarians in the village of Katunitsa, where Rashkov's mansions are located. They culminated Saturday night into the burning of Rashkov's properties by football club fans from Plovdiv, which is near to Katunitsa, and by football club fans from the capital Sofia and the southern city of Stara Zagora.

On Monday and Tuesday night, protests followed in many major Bulgarian cities, including the capital Sofia. Nearly 300 people in total were arrested by the police after the two nights of rallies that unfortunately involved what has been perceived as ethnic hatred.

Bulgarian authorities have frozen Rashkov's assets and property while he is investigated on tax evasion charges, the revenue agency has confirmed. Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Kalin Georgiev told the morning broadcast of Nova TV channel Wednesday that Rashkov, AKA Tsar Kiro, has been arrested.

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Tags: Plovdiv, sofia, clashes, ethnic clashes, ethnic violence, Roma, ethnic Turkish, ethnic Turks, Stolipinovo, protesters, protest rallies, protest rally, Tsar Kiro, Kiril Rashkov, riot police, gendarmerie, Katunitsa, Angel Petrov, police, gendarmerie, football club fans, skinheads, Blagoevgrad, Asenovgrad, far right, extremists


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