Bulgarian Roma Party Demands Nationalist Leader's Arrest

Domestic | September 29, 2011, Thursday // 12:10|  views

A garbage container is seen knocked down in a downtown Sofia street by protesters who clashed with riot police. Photo by BGNES

Stripping the immunity and immediate arrest of the leader of Bulgaria's nationalist, far-right Ataka party, Volen Siderov, is the only thing that can stop ethnic violence in the country.

The statement was made by the leader of the Roma party DROM, Iliya Iliev, speaking Thursday in an interview for the morning broadcast of Nova TV, saying Siderov is the mastermind behind the ethnic hatred raging in Bulgaria in the eve of the October 23 presidential and local elections.

Iliev claimed he had information that the Nationalist, who is also running for president, is paying for provocations and is inciting through money large groups of people, hoping to topple the cabinet and win the elections.

The Roma leader pointed out the police have their hands full and cannot address all the incidents, which is making people fear for their lives and stand on guard with torches, axes, and sticks.

"Bulgarians and Roma always loved and respected each other. These conflicts now are stirred by a group of people who are paid to do it," Iliev stated, adding that nothing has been done for years for Bulgarian Roma while huge amounts of EU funds have been embezzled or diverted by the government to other sectors.

Earlier Thursday, Siderov, ruined the morning TV debate on bTV, dedicated to the issue of ethnic hatred, by bursting in the studio and shouting the hosts were biased and this is why he did not get an invitation.

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: DROM, Iliya Iliev, 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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