Top Bulgarian Nationalist Stirs Turmoil, Foils TV Debate

Domestic | September 29, 2011, Thursday // 09:46|  views

The leader of Bulgaria's nationalist, far-right Ataka party and presidential hopeful, Volen Siderov. Photo by BGNES

The leader of Bulgaria's nationalist, far-right Ataka party and presidential hopeful, Volen Siderov, ruined a Thursday morning TV debate, dedicated to the issue of ethnic hatred.

The debate, aired live during the morning broadcast of the TV channel bTV, included representatives of the ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, and the right-wing Blue Coalition.

Several minutes after the start of the discussion, Siderov appeared, insisting on being admitted inside the studio, where he busted with screams he had not been invited for the talks and accused the media of being biased against him. The hosts failed in their attempts to calm him down with explanations the Ataka press center had declined the invitation.

A loud quarrel erupted between Siderov, the hosts and the guests of the show, who unanimously decided to leave the studio, saying they wanted to let the nationalist clear his argument with bTV.

The presidential hopeful stood alone in the middle of the studio shouting accusations against the media, prompting the hosts to tell him the dispute will be resolved in "another room." Siderov finally left and the program continued with its scheduled line-up.

The representatives of the different political formations were invited to discuss ethnic tensions in the country.

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, Tuesday and Wednesday night, protests followed in many major Bulgarian cities, including the capital Sofia. Nearly 350 people in total have been arrested by the police after the three nights of rallies that unfortunately involved what has been perceived as ethnic hatred. Many in Bulgaria suspect that Volen Siderov is behind these rallies.

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: Ataka, nationalist, GERB, DPS, Blue Coalition, 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, Kalin Georgiev


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