'Peaceful' Protest Leader Busted for Beating 2 Roma in Bulgaria

Crime | September 29, 2011, Thursday // 19:22|  views

Residents of the Roma quarter of Predela in the southwestern city of Blagoevgrad pictured armed with axes and sticks Wednesday night, trying to avenge the beating of two Roma. Photo by BGNES

Nikolay Yovev, a 21-year-old organizer of a "peaceful" protest rally in Bulgaria's Blagoevgrad has been arrested for beating two ethnic Roma in the city.

Yovev played a major role Wednesday in the holding of a protest rally of several hundred people in Blagoevgrad – one of the series of rallies in Bulgaria's cities over the week staged over the murder of 19-year-old Angel Petrov, an ethnic Bulgarian boy, by associates of Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro.

The protests held around Bulgaria in the past few days focused on what their participants see as problems with the way of life of the Roma; the rallies are known to have included football fan clubs and far-right extremists.

After the rally in the southwestern city of Blagoevgrad Wednesday, two Roma were severely beaten – which caused the inhabitants of a Roma-populated quarter, known as Predela, to rise in revolt.

The local police prevented some 200 Roma locals armed with axes and shovels from reaching the city downtown.

Nikolay Yovev is reported to have perpetrated the attack on 36-year-old Kostadin Todorov and his 20-year-old son Tsvetan Todorov, who were beaten while posting banners for an upcoming concert.

"We have irrefutable evidence that Yovev was the one who beat Kostadin Todorov," Blagoevgrad Prosecutor Elka Atanasova said Thursday, as cited by BGNES. The evidence was gathered after the interrogation of 14 people.

"The crime was committed out of hooliganism. There is no information suggesting that it was based on race or ethnicity," the prosecutor explained further.

Lyudmila Spasova, a coordinator of the Sila (Power) civic movement in Blagoevgrad is quoted as saying she was surprised by Yovev's detention because he had been the person making sure that the recent rallies in Blagoevgrad do not escalate into violence.

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Tags: Blagoevgrad, Roma, protesters, protest, protest rallies, protest rally, Katunitsa, Tsar Kiro, Kiril Rashkov, Nikolay Yovev, Roma quarter, beating, beaten


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